08/12/2004 12:00AM

Interim Kentucky head named

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Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher has appointed John Nicholson, the executive director of the Kentucky Horse Park, to be the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority's interim executive director until a permanent replacement can be found, Fletcher's office announced Thursday.

Nicholson, the brother of Keeneland Association president Nick Nicholson, has been executive director of the Horse Park since 1997. The Horse Park office and the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority offices are on the same property outside of Lexington.

Fletcher abolished the Kentucky Racing Commission, the predecessor to the authority, earlier this year after taking office. Bernie Hettel, the former chief steward and executive director of the abolished commission, resigned shortly afterward.

A search for a permanent executive director is being conducted by the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet, which oversees the racing authority.