Proposal Paves Way for Great Hunter's Blue Grass Start

Proposal Paves Way for Great Hunter's Blue Grass Start
Photo: AP/Mark Avery
Great Hunter may be cleared to ship to Kentucky for Toyota Blue Grass Stakes.
An attorney representing J. Paul Reddam in a legal dispute involving top 3-year-old Great Hunter said a stop-gap agreement has been reached with a Kentucky bank claiming it has an interest in the colt. The development could prevent any potential messy situations with the star runner's scheduled start in the April 14 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I).

Attorney Dan Baren said Reddam and Fifth Third Bank agreed March 29 on court-order language that would keep the Kentucky financial institution from any immediate action to take physical possession of Great Hunter. Baren also said the bank agreed to inform any buyers interested in acquiring its alleged claim that pending litigation was involved in the ownership of the horse.

Reddam's legal team filed a lawsuit March 23 in California against Fifth Third Bank, which claims it has a legal interest in Great Hunter because the colt purportedly was part of collateral used on since-defaulted loans extended to the horse's former owner, Ilona Whetstone, and her husband, L. Eric Whetstone.

The lawsuit asked for a temporary restraining order against Fifth Third Bank, which was scheduled to be heard in Orange County Superior Court March 29.

"It's definitely a positive step," said Baren. “Our fear was that they were going to sell their interest to a third party, and then we wouldn’t know exactly what kind of problems could arise by shipping Great Hunter into Kentucky for the Blue Grass Stakes.”

Officials with Fifth Third Bank, which has previously declined comment on the Great Hunter issue, couldn’t immediately be reached for confirmation of the agreement. The submitted order would have to be signed by a judge to make it official.

An initial hearing over particulars of the lawsuit is scheduled to be heard April 17.

For more information on this issue, please read this article.

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