Shoemaker Foundation to be Dissolved

The Shoemaker Foundation, named in honor of jockey Bill Shoemaker and established to assist injured racetrack personnel, is in the process of being dissolved, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader

Quoting Del Mar Turf Club president Joe Harper, the Shoemaker Foundation board member who is organizing the dissolution, the newspaper reported that the organization is being dissolved because it is unable to pay outstanding bills.

After the past couple of fund-raisers, it became apparent the foundation wasn't making money, and it owed people money," said Harper. "When it reaches that point, it's time to dissolve."
Harper did not know the extent of outstanding bills, but said many of them were related to the lavish fund-raisers the foundation has held in California and Lexington every year.

The organization has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years while giving its director annual raises, according to an analysis of tax documents by the Herald-Leader in May. Although the California foundation has a board of directors, none of the members interviewed ever remember having a meeting, according to the newspaper.

One of the members said he is organizing the dissolution because the foundation -- which once had hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets -- can't pay its bills.

The matter has been handed over to a San Diego law firm, Luce Forward Hamilton and Scripps. Attorney Kristina Hancock was not available for comment.

But according to tax documents reviewed by the Herald-Leader, the group lost nearly $500,000 on its Lexington parties in the past four years. At one time, the group gave away at least $100,000 to injured horsemen. But in 2004, it gave only $50,000.

The newspaper quoted Rodney Pitts, the executive director who ran the foundation from an office at the Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood, as saying fund-raising had become more difficult after Shoemaker's death in 2003. The group also had about $424,000 in losses on securities.

Pitts was paid $76,111 a year. In 2004, his salary accounted for more than half of what the group raised. And he was given raises each year, despite heavy losses at both the Lexington and California parties.
His salary went up 12% over a four-year period, although it's not clear who authorized the raises. The board, according to Harper and other board members, never actually met to make decisions.