The Kentucky Horse Park has selected an interim executive director to replace retiring head John Nicholson.
The man chosen by the Kentucky Horse Park Commission may have a familiar last name, but he’s no relation to the outgoing executive director.
"I guess it would be a pun, but I'm chomping at the bit," says Ted Nicholson.
Nicholson is currently part of a racing consulting firm in Louisville, where he formerly served as general manager of the KFC Yum! Center. He filed a whistleblower lawsuit alleging mismanagement of the state Fair Board after being fired from the position without explanation in 2012. Kentucky Horse Park Commission chair Alston Kerr says the incident played little role in the commission’s decision.
"It wasn't an issue at all because he sued and won, so it was kind of vindicated that he was possibly dismissed erroneously," Kerr says.
During his tenure as an executive at Churchill Downs, colleagues say he developed a reputation as a “clean-up guy,” someone who was effective at straightening out problems in the company. Nicholson says he hopes to bring that skill to the Horse Park.
"My goal is to try and improve the operations of how it's running right now. That's what my expertise is in," he says.
A search firm is expected to begin conducting a nationwide search for a permanent replacement in the next 30 days. Kerr says she expects the process could take close to six months.