Dickinson and Voss Settle Track Surface Lawsuit

A $4 million lawsuit involving track surface espionage between two Maryland trainerswas settled Tuesday, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Trainers Michael Dickinson and Tom Voss reached a confidential settlement just before jury selection was scheduled to begin in Baltimore County Circuit Court. Dickinson had sued Voss for allegedly stealing the secret formula of sand, rubber bits and secret ingredients that compose the artificial track surface that Dickinson built at his Tapeta Farm, near the town of North East, Md., in 1998. Dickinson has said it took four years to develop the track.

Dickinson quickly left the courthouse without comment. Voss told reporters covering the trial he was glad the case was settled.

"I couldn't be happier about the way things have worked out," he told the Sun.

The suit accused Voss of either hiring the same consultant who helped Dickinson or having an employee sneak onto Tapeta and steal a sample of the track.

Voss denied the allegation. He said yesterday that he used his own formula when he opened his track in Monkton in 1999.

"Every track is different," Voss said. "It's just like making chicken soup; it's never going to be the same, no matter what you use to build it or how you build it."

Voss, 51, is one of the nation's top steeplechase trainers. Dickinson, 52, was a champion steeplechase trainer in England before he came to the United States in the 1980s. His gelding Da Hoss won the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. I) in 1996 and 1998.

The trial was expected to take four days and Dickinson's lawyers reportedly intended to take jurors on a tour of both training tracks. Voss said he welcomed the opportunity to show jurors his training center, known as Atlanta Hall.

"Dickinson's the one who's had this policy of secrecy, not me," he told the Sun.
Attorneys on both sides refused to say whether the settlement required a cash payment by either Dickinson or Voss.

William F.C. Marlow Jr., Voss' attorney, said that Dickinson was as anxious to avoid a trial as Voss because a trial would have forced Dickinson to disclose the ingredients of his formula.

"The settlement allows Mr. Dickinson to maintain any secrecy of whatever it is he claims should remain secret," Marlow said.