Probe Into Abandoned Horses Continues

Probe Into Abandoned Horses Continues
Photo: Rick Samuels
The Mercer County farm where 43 horses were allegedly abandoned

A day after 43 charges of second-degree animal cruelty were filed against Charles “Chuck” Borell and his daughter, trainer Maria Borell, investigators with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture continued to work on identifying and locating the owners of 43 horses apparently abandoned on a Central Kentucky farm.

“We’re going to be on the ground working pretty hard for a quite a while,” said Shane Mitchell, lead investigator for the KDA. “It is a group effort. We’re ensuring the horses are the horses they are supposed to be and we’re all trying to do our part to find the names of the horse owners. My investigation is very fluid and very active.”

The KDA is leading the investigation, while the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office of Ernie Kealty is managing day-to-day activities at the farm and the county attorney’s office is handling the legal aspects of the investigation. The three entities became involved after being called to the farm June 3 and discovering the horses had apparently been abandoned. Located about 40 miles outside Lexington, the farm is for sale for an asking price of $499,900.

Volunteers and organizations have donated time, supplies, services, and transportation to aid the horses, with more than 400 bales of hay donated. A GoFundMe account has received more than $22,600 in donations from nearly 300 individuals over the last five days.

While he and others involved in the investigation would like to have seen the case move along quicker, Mitchell said they had to be careful not to take shortcuts that could eventually jeopardize any legal case.

“I’ve got a month's work in on this, including some 16-18 hours a day,” Mitchell said. “You don’t want to blow an investigation. People don’t realize the criminal justice system is what we have to deal with and we have to meet that criteria for everybody, regardless of the emotional aspects.

“The welfare of the horse is our number one priority. While the department is making sure of that, I have to do my job and sometimes it’s a slow and painstaking process.”

Meanwhile, Chuck Borell, 69, remained in the Boyle County Detention Center without bond June 30, awaiting a hearing that has been scheduled for July 5. Kentucky state veterinarian Dr. Robert Stout said Chuck Borell and his daughter Maria Borell, who has not been located, were charged after it was deemed they were the parties responsible for the horses.

According to Charles Burell’s LinkedIn profile, he resides in upstate New York and is a self-employed labor arbitrator, consulting with communities in labor contracts with unions. Maria Borell is best known as the trainer of champion sprinter Runhappy   when he won the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I). Following that race, Borell was dismissed as Gallery Furniture’s trainer and she filed suit against owner James McIngvale.

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