02/01/2007 12:00AM

John A. Bell III, farm's founder, dies at 88


LEXINGTON, Ky. - John A. Bell III, founder of Jonabell Farm in Lexington and the owner of the 1987 champion juvenile filly Epitome, died Wednesday in Lexington at the St. Joseph Hospital Hospice, according to published reports. Bell, 88, had pulmonary fibrosis.

Bell was born in Sewickley, Pa. A graduate of Princeton University, Bell also attended the Harvard School of Business. He moved to Lexington in 1946 after serving as an officer in the Army Medical Administrative Corps during World War II. In 1954, he purchased the original tract of land that would become Jonabell. The farm bred, raised, or sold such runners as 1967 Horse of the Year Damascus, 1991 Breeders' Cup Mile winner Opening Verse, 1981 Belmont Stakes winner Summing, and numerous others.

Bell himself campaigned Epitome, who was bred by his daughters Jessica Nicholson and Bennett Williams, and 1983 Spinster winner Try Something New.

Jonabell later stood 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed, 1994 Horse of the Year Holy Bull, sprint champions Housebuster and Cherokee Run, and, in 2007, champion 3-year-old Bernardini.

Bell sold Jonabell to Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum in 2001. Bell's son Jimmy is president of Darley USA.

Bell was a Jockey Club member, a director of Keeneland and the Breeders' Cup, and a trustee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, among other positions. A past president of the Thoroughbred Club of America, he was its Honor Guest in 1971.

"You can search the world over and not find a more respected role model in the Thoroughbred industry than John Bell," said Keeneland president Nick Nicholson. "Unmatched for his integrity and respectful of opposing points of view, he was an enlightened leader at the regional, state, national, and international level who worked for the betterment of the industry while seeking no credit for himself."

Bell is survived by his wife, Jessica Gay Bell; daughters Jessica Nicholson and Bennett Williams; and sons John A. Bell IV and James Bell. Funeral arrangements were pending at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home in Lexington.

McIngvale adds consignors to suit

James McIngvale has added seven consignors as defendants in his lawsuit against bloodstock agents J.B. and Kevin McKathan and trainer Bob Baffert, and at least two of the new defendants protest their inclusion in the suit. The original complaint alleges that Baffert and the McKathans committed fraud by collecting secret commissions. The McKathans and Baffert have denied allegations of fraud, and the McKathans have filed a suit against McIngvale, claiming he failed to abide by an agreement to give them breeding rights to stallions.

In an amended complaint filed Jan. 26 in U.S. District Court in Galveston, Texas, McIngvale added consignors Celebrity Farms, Eaton Sales, Highclere Sales, Hill 'n' Dale Sales Agency, Donato Lanni, David McKathan, and Murray Smith to the suit. The amended complaint did not include specific allegations against the consignors except to highlight McIngvale's $950,000 purchase from Smith of the juvenile Work. In that purchase, part of the original complaint filed last September, McIngvale alleges Smith paid an undisclosed 10 percent commission to the McKathans.

The amended complaint alleges that consignors conspired with McIngvale's advisers "in arranging for the payment and receipt of unlawful secret commissions and kickbacks, as well as dual or fraudulent sales" on at least 19 transactions. The amended complaint includes a list of 19 transactions, but not all of the consignors on that list are now named as defendants, a discrepancy that McIngvale's attorneys were unavailable to explain on Thursday.

Not all of the consignors named in the suit could be reached for comment. Tom Van Meter of Eaton Sales and John Sikura of Hill 'n' Dale are vigorously protesting their inclusions as defendants.

"I've not been made aware of any allegations, therefore I cannot respond to innuendo," Sikura said. "I will say categorically that Mr. McIngvale has never bought a horse that I have owned. He did purchase a horse from a client of mine five years ago, a horse in which I had no ownership interest. I was completely forthcoming with all the details of that sale."

Van Meter said that Eaton, which he co-owns with Reiley McDonald, had been contacted by McIngvale's attorneys in September and "we responded at that time that Eaton, myself, and Reiley were not involved in any way" in fraudulent behavior.