06/30/2016 12:56PM

Trainer Maria Borell, father charged with animal cruelty

Barbara D. Livingston
A warrant has been issued for the arrest of trainer Maria Borell on charges of animal cruelty.

Chuck Borell and his daughter, trainer Maria Borell, have been charged with animal cruelty in the case of 43 abandoned Thoroughbreds on a farm in Mercer County in central Kentucky.

Chuck Borell, who leased the farm and was the principal caregiver of the horses, was arrested by county sheriffs Wednesday when he showed up at the farm. There is an outstanding warrant for the arrest of Maria Borell, who trained Runhappy to win last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint, but the state does not know her whereabouts. She reportedly owns some of the horses that had been abandoned and had been entrusted with the care of other horses at the farm by their owners.

Chuck Borell is awaiting arraignment in the Boyle County Detention Center, which is about 30 miles southwest of Lexington, and the hearing was scheduled for July 5, according to the county attorney, Ted Dean. He is being held without bail.

The charges of animal cruelty were brought by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, and they are a Class A misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is up to one year incarceration. Monetary damages could be levied at the discretion of the court.

As for Maria Borell, the state has not been able to serve her with the charges. Some reports have her out of the state in New York, and when asked if she could be extradited if found, Shane Mitchell, the lead investigator on the case for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture said, “In the vast majority of times, these are misdemeanor warrants, in cruelty to animals, second-degree misdemeanors, and in all likelihood, the extradition probably wouldn’t happen unless we found room and we could speak to the courts about getting something done.”

Maria Borell, who grew up in Syracuse, N.Y., was fired the day after the BC Sprint by Runhappy’s owner, Jim McIngvale, in a dispute, and there is still litigation in that case pending, with Borell claiming she is owed a percentage of the horse’s earnings and McIngvale maintaining that his contract with her paid her a monthly stipend and specifically did not include a trainer’s winning percentage of purses.

Efforts to reach Maria Borell have not been successful, and her cellphone number is now out of service.

As the criminal prosecution process moves forward, the vast majority of the horses will remain at the farm while ownership of the horses is being determined. The state is working with the Mercer County attorney’s office to sort through the issue of ownership, and Mitchell said, “Because of the scope of the case, it turns into a pretty big job trying to ascertain which horses belong to whom. We’re working with the county attorney’s office and showing Mr. Dean what evidence we have of ownership and letting Mr. Dean make the determination of ownership.

“One fear is someone claiming they own a horse and them not being the owner.”

Six of the horses deemed to be in the worst shape were moved off the farm Tuesday and sent to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s facility at Blackburn Correctional Complex near Lexington. The other 37 horses remain at the farm.

The horses were judged by the state as having been abandoned in May, and the state has been monitoring the situation since June 3, when officials first became aware of the problem. Chuck Borell had leased the property for only about a month before the horses were abandoned, according to Mitchell, having moved from another farm he had leased. Volunteers have been helping to take care of the horses since then, and crowd-funding on social media has raised more than $20,000 to help pay for their care.

Rusty Ford, spokesman for the office of the state veterinarian, said the 43 horses were examined Monday by a team of veterinarians, and they categorized the horses as follows: Three were severely underweight, 10 were underweight, 14 were of suitable weight, eight 8 were overweight, and eight were of proper weight. None is in a life-threatening situation.

Rachel Lang More than 1 year ago
She should have never been a race horse trainer. When someone is cruel to horses, it makes me furious. She should be an adult and turn herself in. Run Happy and his owners, jockeys etc,  are lucky they don't have to deal with her anymore. The woman and her father are selfish , as far as I'm concerned. If they were unable to care for the horses, they should have found help, there's always people out there willing to help. It's a felony and she needs to come clean.
Diane Gregoli Marchand More than 1 year ago

Rachel Lang More than 1 year ago

She must never be a trainer again, or rather make an attempt to be a trainer again. What does she think the public will be thinking of her anyway. She disappears instead of facing charges, and probably thinks she didn't do anything wrong. Irresponsible and maybe a bit of a con artist, I don't know but when someone can't be found, that is con  artist behavior.

She is facing a felony and needs to take responsibility for her endangerment of innocent horses relying on her. Her father and her, seem like they're a team, shady. I agree, people need to tell others this woman is a danger to horses.  

banshee More than 1 year ago
the rich people crushed her and forced her to go broke, then it  come down to feeding your family or the animals.   The Animals lose.    

the millionaires should have purchased her Horses before crushing her.
Rachel Lang More than 1 year ago
There is no excuse to leave horses uncared for. Rich people? She is responsible for the condition of the horses, no not the rich people's fault, plus maybe the "rich people" had good reason to let her go.
VICTOR More than 1 year ago
Mat Mac has no way to cut Maria out of the 10% trainers share of B C win !
Fat More than 1 year ago
this wacko has gotta be on something...where is the cash and what was it spent on???
Rachel Lang More than 1 year ago
Then her cell phone is " out of service" how convenient for her. I wonder myself.
Wayne Gunter More than 1 year ago
She messed up big tIme. From the penthouse. To the outhouse. She needs to come forward and face the music, Her time with the horses is over, but she is a good looking woman and can move forward if she wants too!!  The Judge WAYNE

wave10582 More than 1 year ago
She is sexy maybe she can get into modeling or if she needs a place to crash I have a room for her
saratogajunkie More than 1 year ago
Mattress Mac doesn't look like such a bad guy now, does he.
curtis1440clark More than 1 year ago
Hows that a logical scenario? Maybe if he payed it's a different situation? doubt it though
Gaye Goodwin More than 1 year ago