The ‘Hollywood’ retirement home for horses
If Cary Grant was an animal, which one would he be?
For Michael Blowen, a former Hollywood film critic, there’s a very specific answer: the retired racehorse Silver Charm.
After years reporting on the movies for The Boston Globe, Blowen now runs Old Friends, a retirement farm for old racehorses based in Georgetown, Kentucky. The career transition might be a strange one, but Blowen likes to draw comparisons between the two.
“There’s interesting parallels between covering the movies and these horses because a certain number of them have personalities,” Blowen told CNN.
“Silver Charm is amazing, he’s like Cary Grant. He’s smooth, never makes a mistake, never has a hair out of place, he’s really cool, all the girls love him.
“And then War Emblem, he’s got a very mischievous side, and he’s more like Jack Nicholson because you never know quite what to expect from him.”
Silver Charm, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Gary Stevens, is best known for winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes races in 1997 before narrowly missing out on a rare Triple Crown after finishing second in the Belmont Stakes.
War Emblem was victorious at the same two races in 2002, but for Blowen there’s no doubt over which horse he prefers.
“Silver Charm is my favorite horse of all time. I’ve been in love with this horse for 20 years and 18 years ago I got a miniature horse and named him Little Silver Charm.
“Little did I know that eventually Silver Charm, his namesake, would end up at the farm as well.
“You ask people, ‘what’s your favorite day?’ and they would say ‘the day I got married;’ then they’d have children and say ‘the day my children were born.’
“But not me, I don’t. I’m sorry, the honest truth is December 1st 2014 when Silver Charm showed up on my front lawn.”
Old Friends started with just one horse 12 years ago; today it homes 164. For Blowen, it’s a chance for the public to appreciate the horses away from the race paddock, as well as indulging his own love.
“I never really got starstruck around the actors and actresses, but I really get starstruck around these horses. I thought ‘you know what? People would like to see these horses even though they’re not racing and breeding anymore.'”
“I just get excited about seeing them. When I see people come to the farm now, they feel the same way. You might think they were driving down Beverley Hills and they’d stop by and say: ‘here comes Angelina Jolie walking a dog’ or something. They get excited — it’s really nice.”