REVIEW: My experience at Old Friends Farm & WinStar Farm


Katie Dikes

The horse Yoshida leans out of its stable. Photo by Katie Dikes.

Katie Dikes

As a dedicated horse girl, growing up in Kentucky is the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me. Kentucky is famous for its horse farms, and horses have attracted the eyes of numerous visiting celebrities, world leaders and politicians. Horses are unique creatures, and most are amazed at their features and abilities. I certainly was when my family and I visited two horse farms, WinStar and Old Friends Farms. Although both were uniquely different, both value one aspect only: the horses. 

WinStar Farm

Located in Versailles, Kentucky, WinStar Farm was founded in 2000 by two friends and business partners, Kenny Troutt and Bill Casner. Originally only a 400-acre property with only four stallions, it has now grown to be over 2,500 acres of property while being a home to nearly 700 horses. 

WinStar had humble beginnings, but it is now at one of the highest levels of racing, having had numerous horses winning races and cups. Funny Cide won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes in 2003. Bluegrass Cat won the Haskell Invitational Stakes in 2006. Colonel John won the Santa Anita Derby and the Haskell Invitational Stakes in 2008. Well Armed won the Dubai World Cup in 2009. Drosselmeyer won the Belmont Stakes in 2010. Super Saver won the Kentucky Derby in 2010. Dresselmeyer won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2011. and American Pharoah won the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2015. WinStar Farms is dedicated to their horses, making a name for themselves and winning numerous races and competitions. 

They continue to do so by breeding horses and raising them in a peaceful and comfortable environment. They have numerous workers attending to the horses and are available 24/7 to address any problems. A veterinarian is on standby at all times, too. The horses get groomed and walked constantly. And the stalls are larger than a standard horse stall to make sure that the horses are comfortable. 

According to their website, their “commitment to the horse and wider community is at the core of [their] mission statement. The WinStar family strives to glorify God by raising superior horses, using the most caring and innovative practices, while loving our neighbors as ourselves, whether employees, clients, or vendors.”

With state of the art facilities, dedicated staff and workers, lush and beautiful fields, pretty scenery and horses roaming all around the property, WinStar Farm is sure to take your breath away. 

Although WinStar Farms took my breath away, one flaw I found within the farm is that I wish they would contribute with other local horse farms. WinStar is worth a lot of money, and their earnings have topped all other breeding farms. With a huge amount of money circulating the farm, it would be gratifying to see WinStar giving back to the community, itself, and the horse community within the area. 

Old Friends

Located in Georgetown, Kentucky, Old Friends Farm is a retirement farm for thoroughbreds. There aren’t any fancy gates. There aren’t any towering barns. There isn’t a lot of nice equipment, but that does not matter to the  horse’s caretakers. They want the horses to live out the rest of their lives in a comfortable and safe environment. 

It began in 2003, when Michael Blowen opened the farm. Starting with only one leased paddock and horse, Old Friends has now expanded to a 236-acre farm with over 240 horses.

“How many people in the United States of America can wake up every morning and say, this is great? The horses tell ya’ to relax, just take it easy, don’t worry about it, things will work out, and so far, so good,” Blowen said.

The horses at the farm are all treated equally, whether they win or not. The horses get to live out the rest of their lives by doing whatever they want. Over 20,000 tourists have visited and the farm is now known as the “living-history museum of horse racing”. You’ll be sure to find a horse you’re attached to: from Quindici Man to Stormy Liberal. 

One thing that bothered me was the poor quality of the facilities due to a lack of funds. They are not able to do this to their full capacity because Old Friends is only funded by donations and money from tours, which isn’t enough to upgrade the barns and other facilities on the farms. 

If multi-million dollar farms like WinStar donated to low income farms like Old Friends, things could certainly change for the better….