An agreed order of dismissal was filed in Fayette County (Ky.) Circuit Court Sept. 27 – three days before Lawyer Ron finished a gut-wrenching second to Curlin in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) at Belmont Park.
The partners in the horse, the estate for the late James T. Hines Jr. and an entity of Audrey Haisfield’s Stonewall Farm Stallions, had been fighting in court over the racing career of Lawyer Ron, who is scheduled to stand at the Versailles, Ky., stud location upon his retirement.
Attorney Ron Bamberger, the namesake of Lawyer Ron who is the executor of the Hines estate, said the dismissal terms between the parties was confidential, but added the judge’s action confirmed an earlier order signed in November 2006 that put him in charge of the colt's racing career.
“I’ve got control for so long as he is racing, until we do worse than second place in two consecutive races,” said Bamberger.
At the heart of the lawsuit was a clause in the sale contract brokered by Barry Irwin in which Stonewall acquired an 80% interest in Lawyer Ron, a $3.52 million deal announced the day before the 2006 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), a race in which the colt finished 12th.
Bamberger contended the clause meant the estate would relinquish control of Lawyer Ron’s racing career if he ever finished third or worse in two consecutive races. Stonewall claimed the clause said the farm would take over the colt if he finished third or worse in either of the first two races after the contract was signed.
A Fayette County judge ruled in favor of Bamberger’s assessment just days before Lawyer Ron finished ninth in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I).
In an ensuing countersuit, Stonewall claimed Bamberger breached his fiduciary duty to the partnership called Hines Racing by continuing to race Lawyer Ron in 2007.
Bamberger responded with claims that Stonewall hadn’t contributed enough in training costs, and in an August filing, failed to pay a contractual bonus of $750,000 for Lawyer Ron winning his first grade I race, the July 28 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga.
But with the dismissal in place, some connected to Stonewall are looking to the future.
”I was hoping with the case settled and a few less lawyers on the horse’s back, he might run just fast enough to win the Jockey Club Gold Cup,” joked John T. Hamilton, an attorney representing Stonewall. “I guess the truth is, there’s a few less lawyers on Curlin’s back, too.”
Stonewall general manager Bert Welker said he is looking forward to the day Lawyer Ron officially joins the farm’s 12-horse stallion roster.
“I know we would sure like to have him here in 2008,” he said. “I don’t think he has anything left to prove. He has danced every dance we’ve asked of him this year.”
Bamberger said he expects to decide on Lawyer Ron’s future shortly, perhaps prior to the Oct. 26-27 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Monmouth Park.
“I haven’t made a decision, but it’s a decision I expect to make within the next couple of weeks,” he said. “You know how racing is. We might do this if such and such happens, but we’ll do this if the other half happens.”