The Kentucky Horse Park Commission on Tuesday selected state government veteran Jamie Link to run the state park in Lexington that is devoted to all things equine.
Link, who was CEO of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, now is Gov. Steve Beshear's deputy chief of staff.
"I look forward to working with Jamie as we strive to make the Kentucky Horse Park an even better attraction for visitors to Kentucky," Beshear said in a statement. "This is an outstanding selection by the commission, and I appreciate their hard work. The Kentucky Horse Park plays a vital role in tourism for the entire state."
No date was set for Link to take over as executive director. Since April, Ted G. Nicholson has served as interim director, following the departure of longtime director John Nicholson. The Nicholsons are not related.
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Link was selected after a search conducted for the commission by the Pace Group, which narrowed a pool of 50 applicants to two who were interviewed Tuesday.
"The Kentucky Horse Park Commission is very excited about Jamie Link being our next executive director to guide the park forward into the future," said Alston Kerr, chair of the commission. "His experience in state government, public-private partnerships, along with his equine experience will be great assets as we continue our growth, ensuring the park will be the preeminent equine and tourist facility in the world."
Link joined the Department of Parks in 1985 as a business manager. He served as deputy secretary for the Finance Cabinet and the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, and was also deputy executive director of the Horse Park in 2006, according to the news release of the announcement.
"I'm excited," Link said Tuesday evening. "I know there's a lot of hard work to be done, but I'm up for it. One of the goals always has been to get the park to financial self-sufficiency, and I'd like to get to that point. And I'd like to attract another World Equestrian Games and other big events."
The Kentucky Horse Park is an agency of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, employing 78 full-time and 62 seasonal employees. The park is an equine-themed tourist destination, the largest attraction in Central Kentucky, and an equine competition facility hosting some of the nation's top horse shows and equine sporting events annually, according to the state.
The 1,200-acre park hosted 800,000 visitors and 18,400 competition horses in 200 special events and horse shows in 2013, and hosted more than 1 million visitors in 2010, when the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games were held on its grounds.
The Horse Park's competition facilities, including the Alltech Arena and Rolex Stadium, host the annual Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event and the National Horse Show.