Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Michael J. Blowen, November 10, 2006

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:08 - Early life and career

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Partial Transcript: Today is November 10th of 2006.

Segment Synopsis: Blowen describes his early life, education, and career as a movie critic at the Boston Globe. Blowen then explains how he became involved in the Thoroughbred retirement industry.

Keywords: Boston (Mass.); Boston Globe; Boston University; Buyouts; Emerson College; Enfield (Conn.); Movie critics; Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation

Subjects: Education; Horse industry; Horse racing; Journalism; Life; Retirement; Suffolk Downs (Boston, Mass.); Teacher; Thoroughbred; Work

00:05:24 - Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation

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Partial Transcript: Um, but while I was there, they never--we--they would never take stallions.

Segment Synopsis: Blowen recalls the start of his work with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. Logistical aspects of putting the horses in the retirement farm are considered.

Keywords: Arrangements; Donations; Japan; Mother-in-law; Narrow Escape (Race horse); Saratoga (N.Y.); Slaughterhouses; Support; Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation; Thoroughbreds

Subjects: Cost; Farms; Friend; Horse industry; Horse trainers; Horses; Mare; Personality; Retirement; Selling; Stallions

00:12:46 - Funding for his Thoroughbred retirement program

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Partial Transcript: How do you do the funding?

Segment Synopsis: Blowen explains how his organization, Old Friends Equine, receives funding and covers operational costs. The reactions of others in the horse industry to this Kentucky-based Thoroughbred retirement program are also shared.

Keywords: California; Discounts; Donations; Expenses; Funding; Horse feed; Kentucky; Old Friends Equine; Resistance; Support; Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation; Veterinarians

Subjects: Horse industry; Horses; Money; Retirement; Thoroughbred

00:17:59 - Interesting horses

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Partial Transcript: So, are there any horses here that particularly stick out?

Segment Synopsis: Blowen describes the most interesting acquisition stories of the horses that currently reside at Old Friends Equine. Blowen's work with American Thoroughbreds ready for retirement living in Japan (and the process to get them to come to Old Friends Equine) is also mentioned.

Keywords: Japan; Kentucky; New York Daily News; Old Friends Equine; Running sheds; Sunshine Forever (Race horse); Winnings

Subjects: Breeding; Culture; Foals; Health; Horse industry; Horse racing; Horses; Language; Mares; Retirement; Suffolk Downs (Boston, Mass.); Thoroughbred

00:22:32 - Facilities / Helpers

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Partial Transcript: So, each horse has their own paddock and their own running shed?

Segment Synopsis: Blowen describes the facilities at Old Friends Equine. Additionally, Blowen talks of the volunteers at the retirement farm. Influential people who helped to establish Old Friends Equine are also listed.

Keywords: Advocates; Attorneys; Calm; Facilities; Farms; Land; Old Friends Equine; Running sheds; Supportive; Tour guides

Subjects: Aging; Horse industry; Horses; Life; Maintenance; Paddock; People; Retirement; Volunteers

00:27:08 - Consequences of over-breeding

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Partial Transcript: Because, look, for some of them it's a business.

Segment Synopsis: Blowen discusses the consequences of over-breeding Thoroughbreds, for both horse owners and fans.

Keywords: Concerns; Horse sales; Kentucky; Old Friends Equine; Overbreeding; Thoroughbreds

Subjects: Breeding; Fans; Horse industry; Horse owners; Horse racing; Horses; People; Responsibility

00:29:39 - Long-term goals

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Partial Transcript: The other two things that we're concerned about is that, is that we're working on long, long-term is that to create some kind of social security system for these horses.

Segment Synopsis: Blowen highlights some of the long-term goals of Old Friends Equine. The first objective is to obtain a retirement fund (similar to social security) for Thoroughbreds. Another goal is to reduce the stigma of visiting the horses coming from others within the horse industry, and also to give horses a dignified retirement from racing.

Keywords: Bluegrass; Competitive; Dignified retirement; Eastern Kentucky; Goals; Horse social security; Impatient; Land; Old Friends Equine; Retirement funds; Thoroughbred Charities of America; Thoroughbreds; Visits

Subjects: Coal lands; Horse industry; Horse trainers; Horses; Keeneland (Ky.); Money; Reputation; Retirement

00:39:41 - Origins of horses now residing at Old Friends Equine

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Partial Transcript: Um, I was gonna ask, where do you usually find the horses?

Segment Synopsis: Blowen articulates the origins of some of the horses at Old Friends Equine (specifically, where he bought the horses from).

Keywords: Florida; Flying Pigeon (Race horse); Horse sales; Kentucky; Malls; New Jersey; Old Friends Equine; Overseas; Pennsylvania; Tensions

Subjects: Horse industry; Horses; Keeneland (Ky.); Retirement

00:43:23 - Most popular horses

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Partial Transcript: Are there any horses in particular that people ask most about?

Segment Synopsis: Blowen reveals the most asked about horses that he is attempting to bring to Old Friends Equine. The most popular horses already living at Old Friends Equine are also mentioned.

Keywords: Abdullah of Saudi Arabia; Alysheba (Race horse); Kentucky; Old Friends Equine; Popcorn Deelites (Race horse); Saudi Arabia; Strike the Gold (Race horse); Swan's Way (Race horse); Taylor's Special (Race horse); War Emblem (Race horse)

Subjects: Death; Horse industry; Horses; Retirement; Seabiscuit (Motion picture)

00:51:17 - Programs for students at the farm / Possible interviewees

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Partial Transcript: Oh, you showed us that, um, little video about students that came out.

Segment Synopsis: Blowen provides an overview of a program that partners students in alternative schools with horses at Old Friends Equine. Additionally, Blowen gives a list of potential people to be interviewed for this oral history project.

Keywords: Boston University; Field trips; Kentucky; Old Friends Equine; Scott County (Ky.); Society

Subjects: Alternative schools; Breeding; Children; Directors; Horse industry; Horses; Money; Oral history; Retirees; Retirement; Students; Teacher; Values