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Runhappy saga: How a feel good story has turned to a Court battle.

Posted by on November 10, 2015

At the outset, I want to be clear, I do not practice in the state of Kentucky. I cannot therefore make any assumptions or statements on Kentucky Law or how it would apply in whatI am going to write. That is for Kentucky lawyers to fight and for the Courts in the Commonweath to decide.

According to today’s Paulick Report article, Maria Borell, the trainer of Breeders Cup Sprint winner Runhappy, is suing her former owners Gallery Racing LLC and Jim and Linda ¬†Mcingvale individually for breach of contract and libel. The lawsuit was filed Monday in the Commonwealth of Kentucky against the Mcingvale’s individually, their stable Gallery Racing LLC and naming the Breeders Cup and Keenland as third party defendants in that they control the purse distribution.

This matter has erupted from what should have been a wonderful David versus Goliath moment in racing; Runhappy winning the Breeder’s Cup Sprint. Runhappy had run two races over the winter; the second leading to an injury that sidelined him for four months. At that time the horse was trained by Laura Wohlers, Jim Mcingvale’s sister in law, and by all indications a trainer solely for the Mcinvales when they are in between other trainers. In April, the Mcinvales turned training over to Maria Borell, a 32 year old trainer who had not had success on the track previously. However, that was about to change as Maria Borell trained Runhappy to 6 straight wins including two Grade 1 victories: the Kings Bishop in Saratoga and Breeder’s Cup Sprint.

From public reports everything changed the morning after the Breeder’s Cup when Wohlers sought to have Runhappy train and Borell refused citing heat and filling in the ankle. Wohlers immediately terminated . Runhappy was removed from Borell’s care and a war of words ensued. What is clear is that Borell was not paid the traditional trainer’s commission of 10% of the winners awards. Additionally Borell believes she would be entitled to 2 lifetime breeding rights for Runhappy. These were not paid to her, and it appears that Borell believes that the Mcingvale’s made libelous statements in another article published by the Paulick Report.

It is unfortunate that the feel good story of a girl from Syracuse coming to the Breeder’s Cup at 32 with a horse nobody thought much of earlier in the year ends up being one of the favorites in the Breeder’s Cup Sprint and actually winning the race. It’s the stuff that makes Hollywood stories, only this time it was real. The sad thing for Maria Borell is there is no happy ending to this fairy tale.

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