TTA Delays Action on Recertification Ruling by Judge

by Raymond Whelan

The Texas Thoroughbred Association has made no decision on whether to appeal the ruling by Texas Judge Charles Mitchell that ordered the association to recertify Chauffe Au Rouge as an accredited Texas-bred racehorse. The TTA temporarily suspended action on the matter during its Feb. 19 board of directors meeting.

"There needs to be some dialogue with the insurance company and with the respective attorneys involved," TTA executive director Dave Hooper said. "They have about 105 days to do so from when the decision was rendered, so they have some time."

Mitchell ruled Feb. 6 that Chauffe Au Rouge should be reaccredited in response to a lawsuit filed against the TTA by James Donnan and Gerald Mackey, the owners of the 8-year-old bay gelding by Red Attack out of High Rent. The Shelby County District Court judge also ordered the TTA to reimburse Donnan and Mackey more than $250,000 for defamation, exemplary damages, and lost earnings.

Donnan still has an appeal pending in the Travis County District Court in Austin based on a Texas Racing Commission ruling to suspend him for 60 days and redistribute the $90,000 Chauffe Au Rouge would have earned in 2001 after his victories in the Texas Hall of Fame Stakes Oct. 6 at Retama Park, and the Richard King Handicap Dec. 1 at Sam Houstonn Race Park.

Listed by The Jockey Club as bred in Texas by M.L. Courter, Chauffe Au Rouge set off a red-hot dispute in 2001 after he won the two stakes restricted to accredited Texas-bred runners. Protests filed against Chauffe Au Rouge prompted the TTA to rescind accreditation of the horse. The Sam Houston board of stewards placed Chauffe Au Rouge last in both races and ordered redistribution of purse money.

A notarized statement said the previous owners of High Rent--the Stanley Brothers from Arkansas--had planned to breed the mare to Hadif, an accredited Texas stallion, in 1997. Even though High Rent died in 1996, and Red Attack was not an accredited Texas stallion, the TTA accepted the document for accreditation purposes.

At the time, the TTA could register any horse born or foaled in Texas as an accredited Texas-bred if the accredited mare was bred back to an accredited Texas stallion within two breeding seasons. The TTA has since eliminated the "breed-back" rule.

The stewards determined Donnan had sent a "false, fraudulent or incorrect letter of intent" to register Chauffe Au Rouge as an accredited Texas-bred, because the document was signed "Stanley Brothers C/S." According to TRC executive secretary Paula Flowerday, the document was signed by the mother of Stanley brothers who later told the stewards she didn't know what her sons intended to do with High Rent.

Moreover, Stanley told the stewards her sons "did not breed Thoroughbred horses."

Tom Alexander, an attorney for Donnan, denied his client did anything wrong. The stewards and the state recommended a one-year suspension for Donnan. The TRC reduced the suspension to 60 days by the end of 2002.

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