04/20/2007 11:00PM

Lawyer Ron owners feuding


Lawsuits between Lawyer Ron's ownership interests have clouded the 4-year-old's racing future as he prepares for next month's Metropolitan Handicap.

James T. Hines Jr., the colt's owner and breeder, died in 2006. His estate sold an 80 percent interest in Lawyer Ron to Stonewall Farms Racing immediately before the Langfuhr colt's 12th-place finish in the 2006 Kentucky Derby. Stonewall Farm Racing is operated by Audrey Haisfield, who owns Stonewall Farm Stallions in Versailles, Ky. But now the estate and Stonewall are feuding over who controls the colt and should determine his racing career.

Under a circuit court ruling in November, the Hines estate, represented by executor and attorney Ronald Bamberger, retains the right to decide Lawyer Ron's campaign. But Stonewall has countersued, claiming Bamberger breached his fiduciary responsibility to the partnership by allowing Lawyer Ron to continue racing, incurring training bills and related costs.

The original purchase agreement for Lawyer Ron included a provision that control of the colt would become Stonewall's "in the event the colt shall fail to finish first or second in two consecutive races" after the agreement, according to Bamberger. Stonewall interpreted the provision to mean that Lawyer Ron had to win or finish second in both the Derby and his next race.

Since his Derby finish, Lawyer Ron has finished worse than second once. That was in the 2006 Breeders' Cup Classic, in which he finished ninth. In between the Derby and Breeders' Cup, Lawyer Ron won the St. Louis Derby at Fairmount Park and was second in the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs. Lawyer Ron has won his two starts so far this year, most recently taking the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap.

"Now we are in the process of refiling our suit against them because they have refused to pay any of the expenses of racing Lawyer Ron since October," Bamberger said.

Bamberger estimated that by the end of April those expenses will total $50,000 to $90,000.

Stonewall Farm Stallions representatives could not immediately be reached for comment Saturday afternoon.