06/18/2002 11:00PM

Sportsman's petitions court

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - With a court action taken Monday, Sportsman's Park officially removed itself from the disputed $1 million bonus War Emblem earned by winning the Illinois and Kentucky Derbies.

Sportsman's attorney, George Lalich, filed a "Complaint for Interpleader" with the United States district court in Chicago, asking the court to determine how the $1 million should be distributed. Lalich also deposited the $1 million into the registry of the court for disbursement after a ruling on the matter.

Russell Reineman owned War Emblem when he won the April 6 Illinois Derby, but sold 90 percent of the colt to The Thoroughbred Corp. a few days later. On May 8, days after War Emblem earned the bonus by winning the Kentucky Derby, Reineman's attorney, Emerson Blue, sent a letter to Sportsman's saying Reineman was entitled to the bonus.

Sportsman's took out an insurance policy on its bonus and received the insurance payment June 14.

The Thoroughbred Corp., through its attorney, Neil Papiano, originally said it was willing to negotiate the distribution of the bonus, but Papiano and Blue had only limited discussions, and now The Thoroughbred Corp. says it should receive the entire bonus, after which it will pay Reineman 10 percent.