11/10/2015 5:44PM

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.

Jack Armstead More than 1 year ago
I saw Run Happy win the Malibu yesterday with ease. As far as this owner goes ("Mac"), we are more likely to see another American Pharaoh win a 'Slam' before we seen some shameless owner fire the trainer of their Breeders Cup winning horse on the following day (and stiff them as well).
philipfore More than 1 year ago
is there any upside for an owner to do this, especially after winning a BC race. Just makes the whole race industry look bad and dare I say after five races you hold back the 10%. Really, so were they holding it back the whole time Thought this was supposed to be the pinnacle of horse racing just saying
Greg Hopper More than 1 year ago
If this trainer is being honest then I'm sure evidence will show a trail of emails and letters attempting to collect the 10% going back to the horse's first win in her care (or at the very least starting with the 10% on the G1 win at Saratoga). Absent this, wouldn't it appear that the 10% is just something that she came up with after being fired? I could be wrong, just like everybody who posts here without really knowing everything/anything, but guess which side I'm betting on ;)
Ron Lacombe More than 1 year ago
I saw in another article that the sum she is asking is the 10% of the races he won minus one of the races which he has paid her for ..
Katherine Leigh More than 1 year ago
10% is the standard payment to any trainer for a win at any level. It goes: 10% to the jockey, 10% to the trainer, 80% to owner. The track subtracts the 10% for the jockey and pays it directly to the jockey and then issues a check to the owner, but the trainer has to bill the owner in most cases, for the trainer 10%. Owners sometimes stiff the trainer. Some tracks are now also subtracting the trainer's 10% and paying it directly to the trainer.
Katherine Leigh More than 1 year ago
If the owner paid her the 10% for the BC win, they will have a cancelled check to prove it.
Chuck Seeger More than 1 year ago
Hey Vince Lentini, could you please describe the situations behind your two posts? From someone "outside looking in", it certainly appears that the owner is the problem. You have a completely different view. Please provide us information from your viewpoint/experience regarding Borrell, and how it relates to this matter. Thanks in advance.
Jimmy Cox More than 1 year ago
Chuck go on facebook and read all about it. It's not hard to find. I found it in 30 seconds, and was amazed. I knew there had to be another side to the story because why would a trainer fire someone the day after there biggest win. Just do some research
Harriet Stone More than 1 year ago
We don't know what arrangements they had but we do know McIngvale and co' are a bunch of disgusting pieces of sheet.
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
I have no idea if a contact existed between the two. If so, its likely the agreement would stand in the courts. If not covered in writing then McIngvale should pay up the 10% and cover her legal bills too. Not all trainers have traditional agreements with owners. I read on DRF that Laura Perillo was working for a low per hour rate for Midwest Thoroughbreds. This was certainly not the standard I am accustomed to paying trainers. It was surprising to me that someone would accept to work for that or even that an operation like Midwest needs that kind of arrangement. I have no idea if the story was right or where Laura stands in her situation but it was reported on the internet so it HAS to be true right. If wrong I will apologize. I imagine Maria will land on her feet assuming other folks at the track who see her work ethic and methods daily are favorably impressed. I wonder about Runhappy also. Where will he land. Will he get a "name" trainer and what trainer would actually sign up to work for Mr. Mac. I know handfuls that would not touch the horse due to his connections. Training horses is a tough job. The last thing trainers need is an owner who micromanages. Free advice to Mr. Mac. Find a trainer you trust, stick to selling California King bedding, check in once every few weeks via a short text, show up for races and hopefully get your picture taken a few times each year. Finally pay your bills timely and in full like your customers do when shopping at your Gallery.
Ron Lacombe More than 1 year ago
According to the court documents she filed he had paid her her commission for one of the races
Richard More than 1 year ago
Tracks should automatically deduct 10% for trainers standard fee. The jockeys have this done for them. Maria Borrell goes 5 for 5 with RUNHAPPY and has to file suit against this scumbag millionaire to collect her rightful share. Tracks should ban his horses from running, until dispute is settled.
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
Owner who do not pay, should be banned from entering until he pays. This owner is nothing more than a "used car" sales person with cash.
Vince Lentini More than 1 year ago
the deadbeat borell needs it to pa all the folks she stiffed
Richard More than 1 year ago
Did she "stiff" people at the track? If so, word gets out that you don't pay your bills.
Ramon Arca More than 1 year ago
they change trainers more than their underwears;;[[[[[[
Harold Richardson More than 1 year ago
that was good........thats a lot of trainers......the problem is the owner.....good grief....you are a multi-millionaire.....pay the lady
Blaine MacMillan More than 1 year ago
Let's hope she cleans this toupee wearing fraud's clock. Very low what he did after Runhappy won the BC Sprint.
Vince Lentini More than 1 year ago
She was a nothing trainer before and a deadbeat