Purse winnings for the victorious effort of Einstein in the March 7 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) are being contested by former clients of the horse’s owners, Shirley Cunningham Jr. and William Gallion.
The $600,000 in winning purse earnings are encumbered by a lien and garnishment claim placed on behalf of more than 400 former clients who were represented by the then-practicing attorneys in the high-profile fen-phen class-action lawsuit.
The former clients earlier secured a $42.5-million judgment against Cunningham, Gallion, and a third former attorney through a civil lawsuit in Kentucky state court, and have tried various legal approaches to collect on that award. Cunningham and Gallion are principals with Tandy LLC, which does business as the racing stable known as Midnight Cry Stable.
Attorney Richard Specter, who is litigation counsel for Santa Anita Park, said the purse winnings will likely be deposited with a California federal court via an interpleader action until the matter is resolved by judicial officials.
“The money has not been paid out,” Specter told The Blood-Horse April 1. “Basically what we intend to do (with the interpleader action) is say, ‘Here’s the purse from the race, you guys fight over it.’ We know it’s not ours, but we don’t want to pay it to the wrong party.”
A similar move of attempted garnishment was made by the fen-phen clients in December 2007 against purse money won by Midnight Cry horses at Churchill Downs. The track also filed for relief in the Kentucky state lawsuit, though it isn’t immediately clear what the outcome, if any, has been realized from that action. Churchill Downs officials weren’t immediately available for comment on its lawsuit, which is shown as still active on the Kentucky court system Web site.
Andre Regard, an attorney representing Tandy LLC, said those purse winnings were eventually released by Churchill Downs through a court-appointed receiver. Regard said the Santa Anita situation will be addressed along with other issues in an upcoming hearing in Franklin County (Ky.) Circuit Court, where the civil lawsuit is being heard.
Attempts to reach Angela Ford, an attorney representing the former fen-phen clients, wasn’t immediately successful.
Einstein, who has 10 victories in 24 starts, is credited with $2,278,020 in race earnings. The 7-year-old son of Spend a Buck--Gay Charm, by Ghadeer, is a four-time grade-I winner, and has won races on dirt, turf, and synthetic surfaces.
Cunningham and Gallion are currently standing re-trial in a Franklin County, Ky., federal court for a criminal action brought against them for their alleged mishandling of the $200-million settlement secured in the fen-phen litigation. An earlier federal trial held in a Boone County, Ky., federal court ended in a hung jury.
Attorneys were making closing arguments in the seven-week trial April 1, and the case is expected to be handed to the jury April 2, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Tandy/Midnight Cry is still a 20% owner in two-time Horse of the Year Curlin , who was retired to stud by majority owner Stonestreet Stables after his 2008 racing campaign. The minority interest in Curlin was the subject of several court actions, including failed efforts to sell it through private auction bids, among others.