TRF Chairman Ludt Issues Statement

Says New York Times reporter took unsubstantiated claims and printed them.

The chairman of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation issued a statement March 29, saying that the organization takes responsibility for retired horses that previously have been rejected by other organizations and reiterated previous criticism of a recent New York Times article.

“TRF takes responsibility for some of the most vulnerable horses in the world by contracting with local farms to provide the best care possible,” TRF chairman Tom Ludt said in a statement released by Brad Chase of Capitol Media Partners. “Many of the roughly 1,100 horses we serve have previously been rejected by other rescue organizations due to their age or physical condition. TRF and its board members participate in the organization solely out of a desire to help these horses and receive no compensation for that service.

“There have been some recent public criticisms of TRF and its oversight of our 1,100 horses from a reporter that took unsubstantiated claims and printed them without checking his facts,” Ludt continued. “One veterinary expert quoted by this reporter contradicted herself in separate interviews in different outlets, and another veterinary expert claims the reporter ‘misrepresented’ him. Facts that a novice horse enthusiast would know were also omitted and misrepresented.  Fortunately for TRF, many horse experts and supporters around the nation recognize the great need of caring for these horses and will continue to ensure that the highest quality care possible will be given to these beautiful animals.”

In a front-page article published March 19, the New York Times reported that horses inspected by a veterinarian at some farms that cared for horses under contract with TRF were starving and were in poor condition because the equine retirement organization was behind in its payments.

The veterinarian quoted in the story had conducted inspections of the TRF herds at various farms around the country after being retained by the Mellon Foundation, one of the TRF’s largest benefactors. The herd inspections were conducted with the approval of the TRF. Ludt previously said the TRF had not seen the veterinarian’s report before it was sent to the Times.

According to its website, Capitol Media Partners is located in Los Angeles, Calif., and offers a wide array of communications services to clients, including “expert advice” for clients facing critical public policy challenges. The company also provides “supervision” of those issues. The website notes that its services are available 24 hours a day for crisis management.