11/13/2015 3:38PM

Keeneland, Breeders’ Cup dismissed from Borell lawsuit

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Maria Borell with Runhappy

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A Fayette County Circuit Court judge on Friday granted a motion by Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup to be dismissed from a lawsuit that sought to prevent the organizations from distributing the purse of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint because of a dispute between the owner and trainer of the winning horse, Runhappy, according to the attorney representing the trainer.

Richard Getty, the attorney representing trainer Maria Borell against James McIngvale and his Gallery Racing, said that judge James D. Ishmael dismissed Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup from the suit after concluding that the companies should not be compelled to hold onto the purse winnings because of the dispute. As a result, both Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup will no longer be named as defendants in the suit, and they are free to distribute the $820,000 winner’s share.

Borell, 32, filed the lawsuit this week seeking roughly $122,000 in purse winnings from Runhappy’s victories this year, which also included the Grade 1 King’s Bishop and Grade 3 Phoenix Stakes. The suit is also seeking punitive damages based on Borell’s allegations that McIngvale and others connected to the horse defamed her in a piece posted by a racing website, The Paulick Report, shortly after she was fired as Runhappy’s trainer the day after the Breeders’ Cup.

Getty said that Borell is facing economic hardship because she has not been paid a share of the purses. As a result, he said he might file another motion that would ask the court to try Borell’s claims seeking the purse money on an expedited basis.

“I think we will prevail on the merits,” said Getty. “So, we’d like to try those earlier than the defamation claims. Those are serious and have done damage to her and her reputation, but those may take a lot longer to litigate.”

Officials for Keeneland, which is responsible for distributing all Breeders’ Cup purse winnings, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The hearing on the motion to dismiss was held the same day that Borell’s legal team provided additional materials in the lawsuit, including affidavits from three trainers contending that it is industry standard for trainers to receive 10 percent to 12 percent of all purse winnings. Charles Simon and Steven Moyer, two of the trainers to provide affidavits, have worked for McIngvale in the past. Both Simon and Moyer said that McIngvale paid them a percentage of purse winnings.

Borell and the McIngvales have both said that she was fired after the trainer had a disagreement with Laura Wohlers, the racing manager for McIngvale’s stable who is also McIngvale’s sister-in-law and an employee of his furniture business in Houston. Wohlers was listed as the trainer of Runhappy in 2014. Borell was hired to train the horse and another Gallery runner last April.

The materials filed by Borell’s legal team on Friday also included a text exchange between Borell and Wohlers on Aug. 7 in which Borell asks if she will receive 10 percent of the purse from the Aug. 29 King’s Bishop if Runhappy wins the race. Wohlers responds, “We have never paid a commission to our private trainers.”