Old Friends at Kentucky Downs closing

Megan Purazrang/Franklin Favorite

Several horses at Old Friends at Kentucky Downs are galloping around the paddock. The satellite facility will close on July 23 and the horses will be transported to Georgetown, Kentucky on July 25.

Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Facility in Georgetown, will close its satellite division at Kentucky Downs on July 23.

"It was a nice thing to have them on the property," said Ted Nicholson, senior vice president at Kentucky Downs.

There are seven thoroughbred horses at the Kentucky Downs location and one miniature horse; Balance of Power, Sgt. Bert, Good Lord, Rumor Has It, Dueling Alex, Thornfield, Ball Four and Fonzi, the mini.

Good Lord was the winner of the 2012 Kentucky Downs Turf Dash, Rumor Has It won the 2008 Kentucky Turf Cup States at Kentucky Downs and Thornfield won the 1999 Canadian Horse of the Year.

"Kentucky Downs has been nothing but a gracious host," said Cindy Grisolia, chairman for Old Friends.

According to a press release from Old Friends, the original collaboration was designed by Old Friends President Michael Blowen and former Kentucky Downs President Corey Johnsen to help raise awareness for retired racehorses and promote local attractions in Simpson County.

The original horses sent to Old Friends at Kentucky Downs in June 2015 were Ball Four, Rumor Has It, Sgt. Bert, Thornfield and Tour of the Cat.

"We had a wonderful run, but unfortunately, we did not achieve the level of tourism or growth we had hoped for," said Blowen in a press release. "We felt it was no longer cost-effective to remain open."

Blowen thanked Dan Ware and the Simpson County Tourism Office for the support they provided to the venture.

Karen Eaton, an employee with Simpson County Tourism,

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said the loss of Old Friends at Kentucky Downs would make a big impact since it was one of their more popular activities.

The tour starts out at the gift shop meeting the guide; from there the guide takes the group around to the different paddocks where the horses are and gives the group carrots to feed the horses. The guide tells a little about each of the horse's life and its career as a racehorse.

"It was really popular with families," Eaton said. "We loved having the horses here and we loved having the people visit here. We are really going to miss it."

Nicholson said having horses year-round added value to attract tourists to Kentucky Downs instead of having horses just during race season.

He said a lot of the staff would visit the horses probably more than people would think.

"We are all disappointed and sad the horses are going to be headed back to Georgetown," Nicholson said.

Grisolia said the last day for the horses at Kentucky Downs will be July 25 when they are transported to Georgetown.

"That is subject to change as we are currently putting up some additional paddock fencing for them here and that needs to be completed before they can move," she said.

Grisolia said they have been getting emails and notes saying how many of the locals will miss the horses, but hopes they will make a day of it and visit them in Georgetown.

To schedule a tour, contact the Simpson County Tourism office at 270-586-3040. Eaton said it is a walking tour, but for anyone with disabilities or has trouble walking, there is a golf cart available.

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