ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Breach of Contract Can Be Fatal to Retired Racehorses

Gallop The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation-one of the nation’s largest organizations dedicated to retired racehorses-has apparently been slow or delinquent in paying its bills to contractors charged with caring for their horses.  TRF is responsible for the care of more than 1,000 retired horses each year reports the New York Times.

The Times reports that the organization has been operating at a deficit the last 2 years according to their financial disclosure statements, which has led to unreliable payments to the more than 25 farms with which the organization has entered into contracts for the care of retired horses. Inspectiors of these farms are finding emaciated horses, neglect, and missing thoroughbreds that have presumably starved to death.  Oddly enough, the mission of this organization includes saving these horses from “possible neglect, abuse, and slaughter.”

While the leadership of the organization is blaming the down economy, RTF still maintains some high profile benefactors. The estate of Paul Mellon, established a $7 million endowment for the organization. According to the Times, after hearing complaints from the horses' caretakers, the estate decided to conduct an investigation of the contract farms and discovered that at least 25% of the horses need urgent and immediate care, and that farm owners were seriously disenchanted with the organization.

Many farm owners are owed in the tens of thousands of dollars but are still caring for the retired horses.  Other owners say that when they complained about lack of payment, the horses were immediately taken away from them. These horses were most likely just directed to different farms with the same issues. The Times reports that, despite registering a $1.2 million deficit in 2009, the RTF continued to meet its adminsitrative payroll obligations.

The RTF has a Facebook page where visitors are invited to comment "However, comments deemed off-topic, insensitive, or downright rude will be deleted."

[Katherine Freeman and JT]

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