Change in Judges Delays Hearing in Real Quiet Suit

A change of judges has delayed a pre-trial hearing in a lawsuit involving 1998 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Real Quiet.

For scheduling reasons, Judge Henry R. Wilhoit, Jr., recused himself from the case in which Kentucky farm owner George Hofmeister has accused owner Mike Pegram and trainer Bob Baffert of fraud. Judge Joseph M. Hood of the U.S. District Court of eastern Kentucky has been assigned the case and is expected to reschedule the pre-trial hearing by the end of the month.

In Hofmeister's suit, he alleges that the defendants knew Real Quiet had a career-ending injury and should have been retired from training before Hofmeister paid Pegram $1 million to retire the horse early. On March 27, 1998, Hofmeister bought Real Quiet for $1.1 million, five stallion shares, and other considerations. Hofmeister's Highland Farms was to take possession of the horse once he retired from racing or on Dec. 1, 2000, whichever came first, according to court documents.

Pegram and Baffert are asking for the case to be dismissed on the grounds that no evidence of fraud exists. According to court records, Real Quiet's career-ending injury occurred while he breezed Feb. 8, 2000, the day Pegram and Hofmeister agreed to retire the colt.

When Hofmeister saw the colt Feb. 14, he was severely lame in his right leg. Still, Hofmeister closed the deal with Pegram the next day. Hofmeister claims he didn't know for fact on Feb. 14 that Real Quiet would no longer race, and was prevented from having the horse inspected by veterinarians until Pegram had received the closing documents.