06/11/2009 11:00PM

New suit over Lawyer Ron

Photos by Z
Laywer Ron is recuperating from surgery.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Ron Bamberger, executor of the James T. Hines Jr. Estate that co-owns 2007 champion older male Lawyer Ron, has filed suit against Stonewall Stallions, alleging that the farm owes the estate $50,000 for a pair of breeding seasons to the young sire.

The late James Hines Jr. bred Lawyer Ron, and his estate campaigned the colt until selling an 80 percent interest to Audrey Haisfield's Stonewall Stallions in 2006.

In a suit filed May 8, 2009, in Fayette Circuit Court in Lexington, Bamberger claims Stonewall violated terms of the purchase and syndicate agreements and of a side letter requiring Stonewall to purchase two of six annual breeding nominations from the Hines estate each year at that year's advertised fee, with payment due no later than Jan. 10 of the year in question. Lawyer Ron stands for $25,000 in 2009.

Stonewall "has breached its obligations under the purchase agreement and side letter by not paying the amounts due despite repeated demand having been made on it to do so," the complaint alleges.

This is not the first time Bamberger and Stonewall have clashed in court over Lawyer Ron. In late 2006, Bamberger filed suit, contending that the Hines estate was legally entitled to control the Grade 1 winner's racing career and that Haisfield owed more than $50,000 in racing and training expenses; Haisfield countersued, saying Bamberger had breached his fiduciary responsibilities by keeping the horse in training beyond 2006. A Fayette Circuit judge ruled in Bamberger's favor on the issue of who controlled the horse's racing career and when his control would end, and in 2007 Bamberger and Stonewall agreed on a joint dismissal to legal wrangling over the colt's racing career.

In 2008, Bamberger sued over the same issue that the 2009 suit raises: alleged nonpayment for the two breeding seasons. In the 2008 case, Bamberger sought $60,000 for the seasons, based on Lawyer Ron's advertised 2008 fee of $30,000.

"I don't regret making the deal with them," Bamberger said Friday regarding the stallion agreement. "I just expect people who make an agreement would live up to the terms of the agreement. At least with the respect to payment for breeding rights they agreed to purchase, they have defaulted now for the last two years."

Neither Haisfield nor her husband Richard returned a call seeking comment, but attorney John Hamilton said Stonewall plans to file an answer to Bamberger's complaint.

"We echo Mr. Bamberger's sentiments that we wish people would honor their agreements as well," Hamilton said.

Stonewall and its related entities also have faced lawsuits filed this year in Woodford County by Woodford Feed Company; veterinarian Dr. Craig Van Balen; Versailles Farm, Home, and Garden; and Redmond's Garden and Landscaping, according to court records.

"We're in negotiations to settle all of them," Hamilton said. "They all deal with money, and money can be resolved by money. We've got offers made that need to be responded to and offers out that need to be responded to, but we're hopeful that we can get them all settled."

Earlier this month, Stonewall sold its 80 percent interest in the farm's flagship stallion, Medaglia d'Oro, to Darley Stud in a private deal that bloodstock experts estimate brought about $40 million.

Lawyer Ron recuperating from minor surgery

In related news, Bamberger said Lawyer Ron has been taken out of service for the rest of the breeding season while recovering from surgery to correct a non-life-threatening condition Bamberger called "some kind of a little rupture in the abdominal sac."

The stallion underwent surgery about three weeks ago and had been recovering well but developed a slight fever on June 10. He was shipped back to Woodford Equine Hospital that day, Bamberger said, and veterinarians hoped to return Lawyer Ron to the farm on Saturday.

"Lawyer Ron had a very minor surgery," Bamberger said. "They sewed him back up and he went back to the farm about a week ago."

Bamberger said the stallion returned to the clinic "just for safety reasons. It's not life-threatening, and there's no problem."

Lawyer Ron, a 6-year-old Langfuhr horse, won the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap and Woodward Stakes en route to his divisional title. His first foals were born this year.

* Richie Donworth, a Three Chimneys broodmare manager, has been promoted to general manager of the Midway, Ky., operation's Old Bradley Place division. Three Chimneys is seeking someone to fill Donworth's former position as the division's broodmare manager.

* The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company will hold under-tack shows for its upcoming June 2-year-old sale on Saturday and Sunday at OBS in Ocala, Fla. Previews begin at 8 a.m. daily, with Hip Nos. 1-270 working Saturday and Hip Nos. 271-540 going Sunday. The auction will be at OBS on Tuesday and Wednesday. Auction sessions start at 10:30 a.m.