Nicholson: ‘I feel at peace with the whole thing’
On Wednesday, it was announced that Nick Nicholson was retiring in September from his position as president of Keeneland. Bill Thomason was announced as his successor. Nicholson said he and his wife, Susan, have been discussing his possible retirement for a long time, and he had communicated his intentions to the board prior to Wednesday’s semi-annual board meeting.
“I feel at peace with the whole thing,” Nicholson said in an article in the Lexington Herald-Leader about the decision. “It’s the right time. Keeneland’s in good hands. The succession is the most important thing. … All through the 75th year (Keeneland celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2011) I saw the team grow and they’re ready. Bill’s ready. It made no sense not to let him take over.”
During Nicholson’s time at Keeneland, he dealt with an outbreak of Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome, saw several failed attempts to expand gambling at Kentucky race tracks, and survived multiple economic downtunrs. Despite these issues, Keeneland was successful. The track set records for attendance and wagering multiple times, including a single day record for the 2012 Blue Grass Stakes day card. He also initiated the installation of Polytrack in an effort to make the track a safer place for horses and jockeys.
When asked about Nicholson’s legacy, trainer Dale Romans said, “He’s going to be known for bringing Polytrack to Keeneland and restructuring the racetrack, which needed to be done. Whether you’re a Polytrack fan or not – I’m not particularly – he’s trying to do something that was safer for the horses and I give him credit for that.”
When he was asked about his future plans, Nicholson said: “I don’t have a plan. For 40 years I’ve dragged Susan to places and events that would help my career. … A lot of what I’m going to be doing is what she wants to do.”