05/06/2011 1:57PM

Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation cites positive report


LEXINGTON, Ky. – In an open letter published on the Huffington Post website Thursday night, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s chairman, George Grayson, and its president, Tom Ludt, said the organization’s herd evaluation was “generally quite positive.”

According to the letter, multiple veterinary teams evaluated 1,100 horses between January and April at 29 foundation-contracted farms and found that about 10 percent were “below ideal weight.” The letter did not specify body condition scores for those horses but asserted that “the herd is in good overall condition.”

“The few horses in the TRF herd of 1,100 found to be in need of special care were attended to immediately,” Grayson and Ludt wrote.

They noted that the evaluation also highlighted the need for “consistent and sustained oversight” at its satellite farms and wrote that “improving administrative responsibilities, as well as paying affiliate farms more promptly, is a priority for the entire TRF board. But perhaps the most salient information in the complete herd evaluation is that the TRF must find more reliable and consistent sources of funding if it is to take care of the discarded horse population it serves.”

The report came nearly two months after a New York Times article alleged that many horses under the retirement foundation’s care had been neglected and even starved as the charity fell behind in paying caretakers. The Times story had been based on partial reports by Dr. Stacey Huntington, a veterinarian the foundation and its largest benefactor, the Paul Mellon Estate, had hired to evaluate the herd. The retirement foundation stopped cooperating with Huntington shortly after the Times report.

“It is more than unfortunate that the very information solicited by the board of the TRF was earlier leaked to the media in an incomplete form and produced very misleading and very biased information,” Grayson and Ludt wrote in the Huffington Post letter.