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Sam P: Judge rules "retired" means 'no racing'

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  • Sam P: Judge rules "retired" means 'no racing'

    An interesting situation the likes of which we've seen ... a serious injury ends a career of a graded-stakes runner and then somehow, someone later down the line tries to bring back to the track. However, in this case the former owners who retired the horse (Sam P) sued to prevent the current owners from going against their wishes for him to never race again.

    Schenectady NY Daily Gazette 7-17-09 "Starlight nixes comeback"

    A Kentucky Circuit Court Judge granted Starlight Stables a permanent injunction on July 10 prohibiting the purchaser of its former graded stakes contender Sam P., from training or racing the horse.

    Sam P. was permanently retired from racing by Starlight and Donald Lucarelli in November 2008, after the horse suffered a serious tendon injury which veterinarians advised posed a high likelihood of further injury to the horse had he continued to race. Consistent with its philosophy of insuring that its retired horses find suitable homes, Starlight offered Sam P. for sale solely as a breeding prospect through Taylor Made Sales Agency.

    Triton Farms, an entity controlled by George Hofmeister, purchased the horse early in 2009. The sales contract provided that the parties agreed Sam P. was being sold "solely for breeding purposes." In April of this year, Starlight learned that Sam P. was being trained at Churchill Downs and immediately demanded that the horse be removed from training. When Triton refused, Starlight filed suit in Bourbon Circuit Court in Paris, Ky., seeking to enforce the sales agreement.

    In his written opinion, Bourbon Circuit Judge Paul Isaacs stated that the contract language restricting the horse to use for breeding purposes was clear and unambiguous and that Triton had no right to ignore those provisions. The court permanently prohibited Triton from training or racing the horse.
    In 2007, Sam P., a son of Cat Thief out of the Affirmed mare Affirmed Legacy, ran third in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, finished second in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis, and was ninth in the Kentucky Derby.

    "We are pleased that Judge Isaacs supported our original intentions of Sam P. continuing his career as a stallion," said Jack Wolf, managing partner of Starlight Stables. "It is of the utmost importance to us that our retired race horses are taken care of properly and their health and best interests are being looked out for."
    Props to Starlight for fighting this one in court to protect their former star.

  • #2
    Wow, that ruling really sets a precedent. Good for them for demanding he be taken out of training, then going to court to back it up. Fortunately it sounds like the wording of the sales contract that both parties signed was crystal clear and completely unambiguous.
    Jessi Pizzurro ~~ Pennyroyal Stables
    Racehorses, OTTBs ~~ 330 383 1281
    Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway. -- John Wayne

    Comment


    • #3
      Good for them, first for thinking to write the contract with the protective clause and second for following through.

      Comment


      • #4
        That's so great the ruling backed the wishes of the former owners and more importantly considered the welfare of the horse.

        I hope this gets some more publicity and appears in the Blood Horse and TB Times. I have not seen it there yet...If it happens at this level, I can imagine that it could on the lower levels as well.

        Thanks for sharing the info.

        Comment


        • #5
          This ruling established precedent and is thus very important. This means that horses sold "off the track" with the intent being that they are retired from racing may be protected. If a trainer/owner puts "for non racing purposes" on the sales receipt they should have legal recourse. Now if only the JC would accept the stautus "retired" for any racehorse (like Sam P) whose owner choses to designate him as such.
          F O.B
          Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
          Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique

          Comment


          • #6
            Hate to rain on anyone's parade but this ruling isn't a precedent to anything. First of all, its a lower court opinion (ie the trial court level). The only citable opinions in both the Federal and State court systems are the published appellate cases.

            More importantly, it just seems like a plain vanilla interpretation of a contract action which happens to involve the disposition of a horse after his racing career. The contract said "solely for breeding purposes". It's pretty unambiguous and it doesn't involve the Jockey Club (which is not bound by the contract) or papers or anything other than an agreement between two discreet parties.

            The law in Kentucky didn't change at all by this, but on the bright side, it does provide a roadmap for agreements.

            Comment


            • #7
              Could the Jockey Club just stamp the papers then for "Breeding Purposes Only"

              Just curious if it could all be simplified that way...

              Comment


              • #8
                Except the Jockey Club doesn't want to be in the business of telling people what to do with their horses. It is a breed registry only.

                If we take this out of the context of racing, imagine papers stamped "No jumping"; "Flat work only"; "No horse shows"; "No riding" "No rider over 200 lbs" etc etc. First of all, who enforces that? Secondly, isn't that awfully presumptious of someone trying regulate what future owners can do with the animal when they don't feed or house them anymore?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Pronzini View Post
                  Except the Jockey Club doesn't want to be in the business of telling people what to do with their horses. It is a breed registry only.

                  If we take this out of the context of racing, imagine papers stamped "No jumping"; "Flat work only"; "No horse shows"; "No riding" "No rider over 200 lbs" etc etc. First of all, who enforces that? Secondly, isn't that awfully presumptious of someone trying regulate what future owners can do with the animal when they don't feed or house them anymore?
                  I see your point, but racing is a regulated sport, with standard operating procedures and officials, unlike the "activities" that you just mentioned (with the exception of showing). The interesting thing is that it appears Sam P was not in fact entered in a race, just training for one. I wonder if the defendants would have been successful if they argued that they were merely "exercising" the horse with no intention to race.
                  Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Pronzini View Post
                    Secondly, isn't that awfully presumptious of someone trying regulate what future owners can do with the animal when they don't feed or house them anymore?
                    Is that in reference to the limitation of "no racing" or are you strictly speaking in the hypothetical of any type of restriction?

                    I see no objection to expressly selling a horse with a restriction of not having the horse back on the track. The purchase price I'm quite certain reflected that.

                    In regards to the former owners learning of Sam P being back at the track it is my *guess* that his name was in the equibase system for recorded works and his former owners received an email [as anyone would if they had the horse selected] with a work.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Tough call

                      I see your point...however it would seem in the case of stamping papers in regards to only retirement of a horse from racing (and marking the papers as such No Future Racing or something like that), I think it could be in racing's interest to have it official with the Jockey Club.

                      I understand that the JC couldn't possibly be involved with other restrictions on retirement as previously mentioned.

                      But suppose a horse is retired or sold, and went with an agreement such as Sam P. had in place. The new owners now decide to go ahead and race this horse; maybe at a cheap level thinking they could make a few bucks. And, suppose he got hurt during that race and an accident resulted in other horses and jockeys being involved. I see with involving the JC as a way to prevent a future accident which, in addition to all I just wrote, could prevent more bad publicity with the betting public...just a thought.

                      When my horse died some years ago (he was an OTTB and then a successful A/A) the insurance company required that I send the JC his papers which were then stamped Deceased on them, and returned to me. I see this as somewhat the same thing with regard to the JC's handling of the papers.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MintHillFarm View Post

                        But suppose a horse is retired or sold, and went with an agreement such as Sam P. had in place. The new owners now decide to go ahead and race this horse; maybe at a cheap level thinking they could make a few bucks. And, suppose he got hurt during that race and an accident resulted in other horses and jockeys being involved. I see with involving the JC as a way to prevent a future accident which, in addition to all I just wrote, could prevent more bad publicity with the betting public...just a thought.
                        There is another interesting scenario--what if Triton has sold to someone else and those people put Sam P in race training? Are they obligated under the language of the contract they signed to put a clause in the new contract? With the proviso that I haven't seen the whole contract, I'm going to guess no.

                        Without similar language and an agreement to the same, there is nothing to prevent the new folks from racing Sam P.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Pronzini View Post
                          There is another interesting scenario--what if Triton has sold to someone else and those people put Sam P in race training? Are they obligated under the language of the contract they signed to put a clause in the new contract? With the proviso that I haven't seen the whole contract, I'm going to guess no.

                          Without similar language and an agreement to the same, there is nothing to prevent the new folks from racing Sam P.
                          Which is precisely why the JC should not consider marking papers "Not to be raced" in a transfer of ownership to be defacing the papers. That is part of the contract between the buyer and seller, and if that clause could be a prominent part of the horse's history thereafter, it would run with the contract on the face of the papers.
                          "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                          Thread killer Extraordinaire

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The Jockey Club's charter is set up to only act as the keeper of The American Stud Book. Period. All racing matters are regulated by individual racing jurisdictions, not TJC. Their concern is keeping the Stud Book accurate. If you sell a TB and you don't want it raced, you can sell it with a copy of the papers and turn the originals into TJC to have the horse effectively removed from the Stud Book. They are confined to certain functions by the Interstate Horseracing Act. Writing "Do Not Race" on the papers is considered defacing because unless those papers have been surrendered, TJC has no authority to regulate it. They actually have very little racing authority. If they did, we wouldn't be having problems with issues such as uniform medication rules.

                            So many people think that TJC has so much power, but working there is like walking around beating your head against a wall, because the reality is that their hands are tied on a lot of these types of issues.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              When you geld a horse you permanently alter what any future owners may do with him. Property is sold with conditions and restrictions every day. When you sign a sales contract with restrictions like "for non racing purposes" you agree to the terms. If you don't like the terms of sale, don't buy.
                              The JC as the registry of the breed can take a stand. If they would recognize "retired" as a status the condition of the breed they profess to care about would be vastly improved.
                              F O.B
                              Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                              Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Linny View Post
                                The JC as the registry of the breed can take a stand. If they would recognize "retired" as a status the condition of the breed they profess to care about would be vastly improved.
                                No, they can't. "Retired" is not the same as gelding. Gelding removes the horse from being able to reproduce, so it affects the Stud Book. Whether a horse can or cannot start in a race is up to the individual racing jurisdiction. If you read my previous post, you would see that TJC already has a remedy for that situation (turn the papers in to remove horse from Stud Book). I'm not sure how else to explain this so it's more understandable???
                                Last edited by Las Olas; Jul. 20, 2009, 10:34 PM. Reason: re-phrasing

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Check this out, the BHA's non-racing registration.
                                  Not sure if it has ever been challenged in court though.www.darleyrehoming.co.uk/downloads/2009NRA.pdf

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    The fact is that if I sell a horse "off the track" for non racing purposes, there is nothing to keep subsequent owners from racing him IF the person I sold him to don't include the same language.

                                    "Retired" is permenent, like gelding. If you are hoping to buy a cheap horse and maybe send him to some tiny track and squeeze a race out of him, you'll know BEFORE you buy that he's retired, just as someone hoping to buy a breeding stallion can see that a horse is a gelding. If a horse has the restriction on his papers, move along and find another horse.

                                    Anyone who has ever bought (or even rented) a home that is on the historic register understands property restricted contracts. If not the JC, then state racing commisissions (which acknowledge reciprocity) should get together and accept a retired status.

                                    The JC hosts round tables on issues from interstate wagering to medication usage to jockey's weights. They profess to have the greater good of the sport and the breed at heart but they don't. Many members of the JC and it's directors produce hundreds of foals a year and many of them end up "wards" of some rescue with their caretakers begging for assistance all over the internet. Meanwhile the breeder or sire owner is chomping a cigar on the lawn at the Reading Room or one of the top Lexington clubs bragging on how well the first crop by X sold this year. They willingly sell poor quality (but well bred) stallions knowing full well that they should be geldings while claiming how important it is to "improve the breed."
                                    Last year the JC was all a flutter over PETA et al after the death of Eight Belles. They talked about safety and so forth while never mentioning what happens to many older/slower horses-including those they breed. Those horses breaking down on the track will never make the papers because when it happens it will be at Assiniboia or Arapahoe or Fairmount Park, far from the centers of print and electronic media.
                                    F O.B
                                    Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                                    Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Las Olas View Post
                                      The Jockey Club's charter is set up to only act as the keeper of The American Stud Book. Period. All racing matters are regulated by individual racing jurisdictions, not TJC. Their concern is keeping the Stud Book accurate. If you sell a TB and you don't want it raced, you can sell it with a copy of the papers and turn the originals into TJC to have the horse effectively removed from the Stud Book. They are confined to certain functions by the Interstate Horseracing Act. Writing "Do Not Race" on the papers is considered defacing because unless those papers have been surrendered, TJC has no authority to regulate it. They actually have very little racing authority. If they did, we wouldn't be having problems with issues such as uniform medication rules.

                                      So many people think that TJC has so much power, but working there is like walking around beating your head against a wall, because the reality is that their hands are tied on a lot of these types of issues.
                                      I understand what you said. However, turning the papers in then would make it impossible for the new owner to use the horse (or mare) for breeding. That is where I am stuck. I am just not getting why they couldn't put a stop to a horse from racing again but still allowing the horse to be bred.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Don't shoot the messenger but legal apples and oranges are getting mixed again. The National Register of Historic Homes is administered, designated and enforced by the government and involves real property which historically and legally allows easements, covenants and certain future designated uses to attach to the deed. Personal property like a horse is a very different animal (no pun intended) and gets treated differently in the law. Once you own it, you own it subject to state and federal laws. If you got it by contract like in this case, you need to abide by the contract provisions. But no one else is bound by a contract they didn't sign.

                                        A private organization like the Jockey Club doesn't necessarily have the power to go around designating horses as permanently retired. Don't forget what happened to the AQHA when it tried to restrict embryo transfer. Registration can reflect other people's property rights.

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