Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation names CEO

The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, which has faced financial difficulties during the past few years, announced Tuesday that Rob Hinkle will be its new chief executive. Hinkle will be based in Lexington.

Hinkle served as chief operations officer for the World Games Foundation 2010, which produced and managed the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games last fall at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. Previously, Hinkle was director of operations at the Horse Park and director of equine operations for The Walt Disney Co. in Orlando, Fla.

"Rob has a proven track record in this industry, and we're excited for him to join us in providing much-needed care and services for retired racehorses," said George Grayson, TRF president. "Adding Rob to the organization is another important step to ensuring that we meet our long-term administrative and fund-raising goals for caring for these great and aging animals."

The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation focuses on taking care of retired racehorses, many of whom are at the end of their lives and not suited to new careers as riding or pleasure horses.

Recently, the group came under fire for being behind in payments to farms that care for its herd. The TRF has more than 1,100 horses at 29 farms across the country. Questions also were raised about the quality of care being provided to the horses.

The foundation denies that any horses were starving or in jeopardy but concedes that issues remain.

"Like all non-profits, TRF has faced significant hurdles in fund-raising during this difficult economic climate, but we are proud to say that we have weathered the storm and are hopeful about our future," said Tom Ludt, chairman of the TRF board. "The recent completion of the independent evaluation of the entire TRF herd also confirms that while there are still administrative gaps that need to be addressed, the horses overall are doing very well."

Ludt, who is also chairman of the Breeders' Cup board, and Grayson recently called for industrywide funding for retired racehorses and an industrywide meeting to discuss how to do it.