06/11/2002 11:00PM

Lawsuit in Sportsman's bonus

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - An attorney for The Thoroughbred Corp. filed a lawsuit against Sportsman's Park on Monday in Los Angeles over the disputed $1 million bonus War Emblem earned by winning the Illinois Derby and the Kentucky Derby.

The lawsuit asks that Sportsman's not distribute the bonus until a settlement has been reached between Russell Reineman, War Emblem's minority owner, and The Thoroughbred Corp.

But Sportsman's already has stated that unless the parties come to a resolution, the track will file an interpleader suit, asking a judge in Chicago to settle the matter. Terry Hart, Sportsman's vice president of racing, reiterated that position Wednesday.

"We weren't planning on distributing it to anyone until we knew they had an agreement," Hart said.

Sportsman's attorney George Lalich has sent a letter to The Thoroughbred Corp. asking it voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit. The track contends that the lawsuit was filed in an inappropriate venue and the matter can more easily be settled by the interpleader action.

Reineman sold 90 percent of War Emblem to The Thoroughbred Corp. days after the Illinois Derby, but sought to claim at least half of the $1 million bonus.

Sportsman's bought an insurance policy covering the bonus, but hasn't yet received the $1 million. Track officials thought payment was owed them within 30 days of the Kentucky Derby, but were informed that the 30-day period began when the paperwork was filed May 21.