09/28/2006 11:00PM

Lawyer Ron transferred to Pletcher


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Lawyer Ron, one of the top 3-year-olds in America, has been taken from trainer Bob Holthus and turned over to Todd Pletcher.

Holthus said he received a telephone call Thursday morning from attorney Ron Bamberger, on behalf of the colt's majority owner, Stonewall Farms Racing, and was informed the colt would be moving into Pletcher's stable, which happens to be located adjacent to the Holthus barn at Churchill Downs.

"Ten minutes later, the horse was out of here," said Holthus.

Michael McCarthy, Pletcher's Churchill assistant, confirmed Friday afternoon that Lawyer Ron is now part of his string. "The horse is scheduled to leave Monday or Tuesday for New York," where Pletcher's main string is based, said McCarthy.

Lawyer Ron had been trained by Holthus throughout his 17-race career, which so far has netted eight wins and earnings of $1,470,008. Lawyer Ron made seven of his first eight career starts on either turf or Polytrack, but has won seven of nine races, including the $1 million Arkansas Derby, since being returned to dirt last December.

A majority interest in the colt was sold to Stonewall by the estate of his breeder and original owner, James T. Hines Jr., just days before the May 6 Kentucky Derby, in which the colt finished 12th when incurring a minor ankle injury. Lawyer Ron since has recovered and raced twice, winning the $250,000 St. Louis Derby and most recently finishing second by a length in the $500,000 Super Derby last weekend.

Stonewall, a racing and breeding entity located in central Kentucky, is owned by Richard and Audrey Haisfield.

Holthus, a trainer since 1952, said the horse being taken from him did not surprise him. Since the sale, rumors had persisted that Stonewall would move the colt.

"It's their horse and their prerogative," he said.

Pletcher, the two-time defending Eclipse Award-winning trainer, is having yet another fabulous year and is on par to break his own annual earnings mark, which he set last year with nearly $20.9 million.

Pletcher was asked whether Lawyer Ron will be pointed to the Breeders' Cup Classic, for which the trainer currently has no prospects. "Everything is a possibility," he said. "Until we get him in and look at him, it would be a little premature to speculate where he might run next. He's obviously a very nice horse. I just hope I do as well as Mr. Holthus has because he's done a great job with him."

- additional reporting by David Grening