Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stables now has an 80% ownership interest in Curlin after completing a deal to acquire former partner George Bolton's percentage of the leading 2007 Horse of the Year candidate.
Financial terms of the purchase agreement were not released.
"To be part of this marvelous horse's special year has been the highlight of our career in racing," Jackson said in a statement released Dec. 20. "His consistent record of success in America's most important races against the very best competition exceeded our wildest expectations...owning 80% of this very special horse is a fantastic way to cap this very special year."
Jackson, who is the founder of the Kendall-Jackson Winery, owns Stonestreet Stables along with his wife, Barbara Banke. Curlin recently capped an outstanding 2007 campaign by winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at Monmouth Park. The 3-year-old son of Smart Strike also posted victories in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), Arkansas Derby (gr. II), and Rebel Stakes (gr. III).
In the statement, Jackson said Curlin is in "perfect health and will enter light training to keep him fit." Curlin has been in training with Steve Asmussen at Fair Grounds. Kevin McGee, who is the corporate attorney for Jackson, told The Blood-Horse no decisions have been made in regards to Curlin's future in racing or breeding.
The other 20% interest is retained by original owners Midnight Cry Stable, which is comprised of embattled attorneys Shirley Cunningham Jr. and William Gallion. The two attorneys, along with fellow lawyer Melbourne Mills Jr., are involved in civil and criminal cases over their handling of the settlement of the prominent fen-phen class-action lawsuit.
The three lawyers are accused of skimming $64 million that should have gone to their clients in the $200-million settlement of the diet drug case. The future of proceeds from Curlin's racing or breeding career, or from the sale of Midnight Cry's interest in the colt, are being fought over with the fen-phen plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in Boone County, Ky.
The news release announcing Stonestreet Stables' buy-out of Bolton made no mention of Midnight Cry Stables, Cunningham or Gallion. McGee declined comment on the subject of any potential negotiations with Midnight Cry Stables, hypothetical or otherwise.
Midnight Cry Stable, working with trainer Kenny McPeek, purchased Curlin for $57,000 at the 2005 Keeneland September yearling sale. McPeek has filed a lawsuit against the Midnight Cry Stable owners over alleged non-payment of commissions related to Curlin and other horses.
An 80% interest in Curlin was sold to Stonestreet Stables, Bolton and another former owner, Padua Stables, for a reported $3.5 million some time following the colt’s breakout 12 3/4-length victory in a Feb. 3 maiden special weight race at Gulfstream Park. Stonestreet Stables and Bolton bought-out Padua Stables for an undisclosed sum in a deal announced Nov. 6.