Our Legal Team LLC announced Thursday that it had purchased an interest in Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner Lawyer Ron, one of the leading contenders for Saturday's Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
The principal in Our Legal Team is Audrey Haisfield, who operates the Stonewall Stallions farm near Versailles, Ky., with her husband Richard.
Terms and value of the transaction were not disclosed.
Ron Bamberger, the executor of the Estate of James T. Hines, Jr., said the colt would run in the Derby in the name and colors of the estate but that Our Legal Team is now a part-owner of the colt.
Lawyer Ron will continue to be trained by Bob Holthus and ridden by John McKee.
Bamberger said the deal was made because "it was in the best interests of the estate."
"It was a simple aspect of taking chips off the table," Bamberger said. "I did not do what Jim Hines would have done. Jim Hines would never, ever have sold one small percentage of this horse."
He said selling part of the son of Langfuhr
was emotional for the Hines family, but that their primary concern was that the colt run in the Hines name and that jockey John McKee would wear the Hines' blue and white silks in the Derby.
Part of the timing of the deal was because "we think we achieve maximum value right now," Bamberger said. "An asset like this is worth so much. To risk it is not the proper thing to do."
Bamberger said selling an interest in Lawyer Ron now was no indication of a lack of support for his Derby chances. He said he could foresee the colt's value diminishing following the Derby if Lawyer Ron had chances and did not run well; on the other hand, if he did not win the Derby due to being compromised or circumstances beyond his control, it would not affect his value.
Bamberger said plans are to run Lawyer Ron as a 4-year-old next year if he is sound and racing well.
Bert Welker, general manager of Stonewall Stallions, said, "It's unbelievable. We've been in negotiation with them. We didn't know if we'd be able to close before the Derby. We were really interested in having him remain in Kentucky."
Lawyer Ron has won six in a row, including the Arkansas Derby, Rebel (gr. III), Southwest, and Risen Star (gr. III).
With an overall record of 7-1-3 from 14 starts, he has earned $1,220,008.
When the colt retires, he will go to stud at Stonewall.