Whitney Pledges $50,000 to Secretariat Center

Mary Lou Whitney has donated an additional $50,000 to help fund the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation's Secretariat Center at the Kentucky Horse Park near Lexington. The donation comes just one year after Mrs. Whitney gave $100,000 to build the barn at the center, which has been named in honor of her and her husband John Hendrickson.

Whitney announced the most recent donation at a May 5 cocktail party at the center, which is expected to welcome its first horses in mid-June. Mrs. Whitney donated the money to cover sponsorship of two stalls within the barn, one that will be named in honor of trainer Nick Zito and his wife Kim, and the other for longtime Daily Racing Form columnist Joe Hirsch.

"My husband, John Hendrickson, and I believe it is the responsibility of every horse owner to ensure that our Thoroughbreds have a good home from the beginning to the end," Whitney said. "We are very happy to contribute to a facility that will encourage horse adoptions. We sponsored one stall for Nick and Kim Zito, who have worked constantly for the welfare of the Thoroughbreds throughout their lives. Joe Hirsch has been a great friend to everyone in racing and should be honored in every way possible."

"I'm not sure I can properly put into words how grateful we at the TRF are for Mrs. Whitney's generosity," said TRF executive director Diana Pikulski. "After making such a large donation in the first place, she went above and beyond the call of duty. But that's Mrs. Whitney, someone who has always cared deeply for the welfare of not just her horses, but all horses. She has been a supporter of the TRF since its inception."

About 120 people attended the party, which included ribbon-cutting ceremonies. Mrs. Whitney cut the ribbon to open the new barn, officially called the Mary Lou Whitney and John Hendrickson Barn. Dr. Tony Ryan of Castleton Lyons Farm, another major donor to the project, cut the ribbon to open the office building.

The first horses are expected to arrive at the TRF Secretariat Center in mid-June. Each one will be suitable for retraining and adoption. The center will accept horses from other equine rescue groups. It is hoped that because of the number of tourists and horse lovers who regularly visit the Kentucky Horse Park, the horse rescue movement will gain a high degree of added visibility and that many visitors to the park will be inspired to adopt a horse.