06/27/2016 1:40PM

Borell part of investigation into animal-welfare violations


Another high-profile case of horses being abandoned and in poor condition has surfaced in Kentucky, and this one has an even higher profile because one of the persons involved is Maria Borell, who trained Runhappy to win last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Maria and her father, Chuck Borell, are the reported owners of the horses, though there are conflicting statements as to who actually owns the horses.

What is clear is that the health and welfare of some 40 horses on a farm in Mercer County are in jeopardy, and state and local officials have just now stepped in to help the horses. The Kentucky state veterinarian’s office, through a spokesperson, said, “We can’t say anything other than this is an ongoing investigation and we’re working with local officials, and the welfare and needs of the horses have been met.”

According to published articles on the situation, 43 horses were abandoned in May on a farm in Mercer County, which is about 30 miles southwest of Lexington. Many of the horses were sick and in emaciated condition. The situation first came to light in an article on usracing.com, but the state did not get involved until recently.

Maria Borell trained Runhappy to win the BC Sprint at Keeneland for Gallery Furniture owner James McIngvale, but she was fired from her duties the day after the race in a dispute. She has filed a lawsuit, asking for a percent of the horse’s earnings, and McIngvale put his sister-in-law, Laura Wohlers, back in charge of the horse’s training. That lawsuit has not been settled.

Maria and Chuck Borell reportedly had moved the horses from several different farms in the past year, with Chuck Borell listed as the person leasing the farm in several instances and Maria reportedly owning the horses or having been put in charge of horses owned by others. State and local officials are attempting to ascertain who actually owns the horses.

On June 24, a page was set up on Go Fund Me to help raise money to take care of the horses. As of Monday afternoon, $6,250 had been pledged, with a goal of $10,000.

According to an article on usracing.com, Rick Porter and Victoria Keith of Fox Hill Farms have taken an active interest in helping and have offered to take in some of the horses. Keith visited the farm recently and took photos of some of the starving horses.