11/10/2015 4:44PM

Borell files suit seeking compensation for training Runhappy

Barbara D. Livingston
Trained by Maria Borell, Runhappy wins the Breeders' Cup Sprint over Private Zone.

Trainer Maria Borell has filed a lawsuit against the owners of Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Runhappy,  seeking nearly $120,000 from the colt’s earnings in compensation along with other payments, according to a copy of the suit provided by her attorney.

Borell was the trainer of Runhappy when the colt won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Oct. 31 at Keeneland Racecourse in Kentucky. Borell, 32, was fired the day after the win.

Both sides have said that the firing was a result of a dispute between Borell and the colt’s former trainer, Laura Wohlers, who is the sister-in-law of Jim McIngvale, the owner of Runhappy who races as Gallery Racing. Wohlers, who lives in Houston, was the trainer of record for Runhappy for two starts in 2014.

The suit was filed Monday in Fayette Circuit Court, one week after Borell’s attorney, Richard Getty, said that he had sent letters to McIngvale’s attorneys asking that Borell receive a cut of Runhappy’s earnings and other compensation. The suit also seeks two breeding rights to Runhappy.

The suit states that Gallery Racing paid Borell $1,000 a week to care for two of its horses. However, the suit states that Gallery has not paid Borell a 10 percent share of the earnings from the horses, which it calls the “industry standard for Thoroughbred trainers.”

The dispute between Borell and the colt’s connections has generated intense interest in the racing world. Borell, who did not lose a race with the colt while training him from April through the Breeders’ Cup, was the subject of a flattering feature that aired during NBC’s broadcast coverage of the Breeders’ Cup races.

McIngvale, who began purchasing racehorses in the late 1990s, has employed more than 30 trainers over the past two decades. He is the owner of Gallery Furniture in Houston.

The suit also accuses McIngvale and his wife, Linda, of defamation due to comments made to a website, the Paulick Report, in a post about the dispute. The suit seeks punitive damages for the alleged defamatory statements.