Val's Prince, shown winning the 1999 Turf Classic, has been at the center of an ownership dispute.

Val's Prince, shown winning the 1999 Turf Classic, has been at the center of an ownership dispute.

Judge Favors Martin In Val's Prince Dispute

In a conference call with attorneys Monday, Broward County (Fla.) Circuit Court Judge Patti Englander Henning ruled that multiple stakes winning gelding Val's Prince has been the property of Robin Martin since February 1997.

Martin had sued former fiancé Steve Weiner last November, attempting to set aside documents that she had signed upon the couple's split that transferred a 50% ownership interest to him. In siding with the plaintiff, Henning's ruling not only will result in a change in the horse's ownership to Martin (Val's Prince had been racing in the name of a court-appointed receiver during the legal proceedings), but also leave open the potential for Martin to seek between $300,000 and $500,000 from Weiner in purse shares paid to him.

Henning also asked that plaintiff attorney Bradford Beilly and defense attorney Dock Blanchard jointly prepare a written order based upon the opinions she voiced in the conference call, and Beilly is hopeful that the order will be presented for the judge's approval no later than September 29. Once the order is entered, Beilly indicated he would notify The Jockey Club to formally change the gelding's ownership and also try to determine the precise amount Weiner owes, although he speculates that Weiner will likely claim an inability to satisfy the judgment.

While neither attorney would comment on the yet-unwritten ruling, Blanchard left open the possibility that he will request a re-hearing in front of Henning. "This decision is rather baffling," he said. "If the final order tracks what she said, I don't understand it."

Now an 8-year-old, Val's Prince last ran second in the Sept. 26 Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) and will likely make his next start on Oct. 7 in the $750,000 Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT), a race he has won in two out of the past three years.