Controversy Surrounds Failed Sale of Meadowbrook

By Ryan Conley

A deal to purchase the Meadowbrook Farms at the Ocala Jockey Club property has soured and may end up in litigation.

A purchase contract between Meadowbrook and buyer Hyperion Training Center LLC has been terminated for lack of a $278,000 installment payment. Officials with Hyperion, which in April announced a $22 million plan to convert the 640-acre property into a training showcase, counter that the contract could never have been executed as written and are threatening a lawsuit.

At the center of the controversy are a few outstanding interests in Meadowbrook that Hyperion officials say are in the possession of other owners. Meadowbrook Farms at the Ocala Jockey Club, which is run by Barbara LaCroix and her son David, was formed in the 1980s with 35 shares.

"David (LaCroix) sold us 100% of the farm, and he doesn't own 100% of the farm," said Hyperion partner Daniel Case. "He wouldn't have been able to deliver it. There was a second payment due, and we didn't pay it. Would you make a payment of $300,000 knowing you couldn't close on the contract?"

An attorney representing Meadowbrook says that if title issues had arisen during the contract phase, then those would need to be addressed under the parameters of the contract.

"There were no strings attached to the payment, it was a standard real estate contract," said attorney Bryce Ackerman. "We terminated under the terms of the contract."

Both sides have hinted that they will try to settle things prior to any litigation.

Hyperion's plans for Meadowbrook included the development of stalls able to house 1,100 horses, a 320-acre residential community, and a lighted track measuring 1 1/8 miles, which would be the longest in Marion County. The property already includes a restaurant which the Cases plan to re-open in June, about 40 condominiums, tennis courts and a swimming pool.

Nearly complete is a new four-stall stallion barn to replace the one destroyed in a May 2003 fire that killed five stallions, David LaCroix said.