Editor's Note: Filmmakers Dan Rhema and Dave Henry have launched their new documentary project about Michael Blowen and the Thoroughbreds of Old Friends Farm. The Brock Talk blog and the Thoroughbred Blogger's Alliance are proud to support Old Friends Farm. The following is an introduction to the film by Producer Dan Rhema and Director David Henry.
The grace and power of thoroughbred racehorses stirs something deep within the human spirit. We cheer them on, pay big money, and shower them with an affection bordering on idolatry—so long as they continue to win or breed more winners. Once their usefulness is gone, their entertainment value exhausted, many are cast aside. Out of the public eye they are neglected, abused, euthanized, or sold overseas to countries where they can be legally slaughtered for consumption. Not even Kentucky Derby winners are safe.
In 2002, retired Boston Globe film critic Michael Blowen learned that 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand had been slaughtered in Japan. When he found out that champion racehorses Sunshine Forever and Criminal Type were awaiting the same fate, he immediately began raising money and negotiating with their owners to secure their transport back to the United States.
Today, Blowen and his wife, former Globe columnist Diane White, share the rolling pastureland surrounding their home with 68 cashiered thoroughbreds and are hosts to more than 20,000 visitors each year. Supported by donations and scores of volunteers, Old Friends is a favorite destination for former jockeys, thoroughbred owners such as A&M Records co-founder Jerry Moss, and celebrity fans that include Albert Brooks, Angie Dickinson, and Jack Nicholson.
Old Friends will present the stories of these extraordinary athletes and their passionate advocate and rescuer Michael Blowen, who went from being a newspaper critic with zero interest in horse racing (“I thought it was stupid”) to an insatiable fan who apprenticed himself to famed trainer Carlos Figueroa so he could be a better handicapper, to owner of a 52-acre thoroughbred retirement home in Georgetown, Kentucky.
Old Friends will show how one individual with a passionate belief has rescued so many thoroughbreds in jeopardy and inspired others to join the cause. Our production schedule includes interviews with Hall of Fame jockeys, trainers, owners, celebrity fans, and an assortment characters who populate the colorful world of thoroughbred racing. As we go about conducting our research and filming interviews, we’ll be making use of these opportunities to compile an important archive of photos, memorabilia, and oral histories surrounding these extraordinary athletes. With your help, we’ll be able to complete production in time to premiere Old Friends during the 2012 Kentucky Derby Festival.
Thank you for helping us tell the story of Michael Blowen and the champion racehorses who reside at Old Friends.
Dan Rhema Writer-producer
David Henry Director