Prominent Bloodstock and Insurance Companies Clash in Court

Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds is suing a prominent Central Kentucky insurance company for negligence, fraud, and breach of contract associated with the coverage of a Storm Cat--Beautiful Bid foal and the stallion Indian Charlie.

The Lexington bloodstock agency claims in its suit it suffered unnecessary economic loss because Clay Ward Insurance of Paris, Ky., did not provide adequate coverage, according to court records. Gaines-Gentry claims it lost $100,000 following the Beautiful Bid foal's death, and another $500,000 associated with the diagnosis and treatment of Indian Charlie for a neurological disease called wobbler syndrome. The suit was filed Feb. 21.

Clay Ward denied all Gaines-Gentry's allegations and has counter-sued for breach of contract to recover nearly $480,000 in unpaid insurance premiums owed by Gaines-Gentry, John Gaines Thoroughbreds, and two companies known as the 2000 Bloodstock Investment Fund and 1999 Bloodstock Investment Fund, which were owned in part and managed by Gaines or Gaines-Gentry.

Gaines-Gentry bought Beautiful Bid in foal to Storm Cat for $2.6 million on Nov. 4, 2000. The agency insured the prospective foal for $1 million, but that type of insurance expires 48 hours after birth. Gaines-Gentry tried buying a second policy for $2 million, but was told the foal could only be insured for $1 million. The foal became severely lame and was sent to a veterinary clinic March 3. The condition worsened, and the foal was euthanized March 12.

Gaines-Gentry filed to recover the $1 million but was told the policy had a $100,000 deductible. The bloodstock agency claims in the suit that the deductible had not been previously disclosed.

Clay Ward said it handled the bloodstock agency's insurance needs appropriately, and noted that Gaines-Gentry president Olin Gentry signed a proof of loss statement and accepted the $900,000 settlement for the foal April 26, 2001.

In Indian Charlie's case, Gaines-Gentry said the stallion had insurance coverage for wobbler syndrome until July 2000 when the policy expired and the subsequent policy excluded a wobbles provision. Indian Charlie was diagnosed early in 2000. Gaines-Gentry said Clay Ward committed gross negligence by not assuring the horse was adequately covered and caused the bloodstock agency to lose about $500,000 because Indian Charlie could not be a fully productive sire while recovering from surgery.

Clay Ward admits the second policy did not include a wobblers provision, but said the stallion was covered when the old policy was extended through July 2001. Even so, the policy only pays if the wobblers syndrome caused Indian Charlie's death or permanent and total infertility.