08/03/2009 11:00PM

Woodford Thoroughbreds partner sells interest

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Tony Ferguson, the managing partner of the legally embattled commercial breeding operation ClassicStar who teamed up in 2007 to establish Woodford Thoroughbreds, has sold his interest in Woodford Thoroughbreds to partner John Sykes.

The private transaction was necessary, Ferguson said, "to allow me the time to pursue my other business interests."

Ferguson and Sykes, who also owns CloverLeaf Farms II, established Woodford Thoroughbreds in 2007 as a private commercial breeding entity based near Versailles, Ky., on 600 acres that formerly were part of the ClassicStar operation. Woodford Thoroughbreds also purchased 49 broodmares from ClassicStar, which still faces multiple lawsuits from investors who allege that ClassicStar defrauded them by portraying their mare-lease programs as tax shelters.

Woodford Thoroughbreds made its debut as a yearling consignor last month at Fasig-Tipton's July select yearling sale and will have a consignment at the Aug. 10-11 Saratoga select yearling sale also staged by Fasig-Tipton.

Ferguson said he and Sykes have formed another partnership, Woodford Foals LLC, to sell yearlings and weanlings produced by the Woodford Thoroughbreds mares. Woodford Foals will be based at Woodford Thoroughbreds in Versailles under the care of general manager Matt Lyons.

Ferguson was an executive with ClassicStar's parent company, GeoStar Corp., when disgruntled clients began initiating legal action against ClassicStar and David and Spencer Plummer, who are no longer executives with the public partnership group. The Plummers were the public face of ClassicStar at auction, splashing out tens of millions for broodmares and broodmare prospects.

Sykes sold his CloverLeaf property near Ocala, Fla., in 2007 to join forces with Ferguson under the Woodford Thoroughbreds banner. The partnership's goal, Ferguson said at the time, was "to breed good, top-quality Thoroughbred horses and sell those horses and be honest with people in the industry."