05/24/2012 12:35PM

Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation responds to New York attorney general's claims


The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation again responded in court Thursday to the New York attorney general’s allegations that the TRF board allowed the nation’s largest charity for ex-racehorses to fall into financial ruin, exposing its horses to neglect and even death. The TRF filed a reply memorandum Thursday in New York’s state Supreme Court calling attorney general Eric Schneiderman’s case “meritless” and countered some statements in affidavits the attorney general’s office filed earlier this week, which included sworn statements by a veterinarian and by former and current TRF employees that claim the charity neglected at least some of the Thoroughbreds in its care.

“The complaint should be dismissed for three important but related reasons,” the TRF’s memorandum said. “First, there is overwhelming evidence that the horses under TRF’s care are in good health and receive proper care. Second, the attorney general has not identified a single questionable financial transaction involving the TRF directors. Third, the directors are protected by the business judgment rule from precisely the kind of mindless, uninformed second-guessing reflected by this lawsuit.”

Responding to allegations in the veterinarian Stacey Huntington’s affidavit, the TRF filing called her report “completely outdated” and noted: “Indeed, as Dr. Huntington herself repeats in her sworn affidavit, the evaluations she conducted at the end of the winter of 2010-2011 revealed only 29 TRF horses with a Body Conditioning Score (BCS) of 3 or less. ... In short, even crediting Dr. Huntington’s report – which the TRF exploded in its Motion to Dismiss – the attorney general’s key affiant concedes that 18 months ago more than 95 percent of the TRF’s horses were perfectly healthy at the end of a frigid winter.”

Huntington conducted inspections of 857 horses in the TRF’s herd, which then numbered about 1,150.

The TRF reply also reiterated its contention that the attorney general ignored recent evaluations by 24 other veterinarians who generally rated the TRF herd’s health as good.

TRF attorney Barry Ostrager also contended that “the TRF has never failed to pay a debt” and that the TRF “has irrefutably demonstrated that it has the authority to borrow against future distributions from the Mellon Endowment,” its largest benefactor.