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Equine

Contact an Equine Attorney

Overview

Stoll Keenon Ogden has its hand on the pulse of the equine industry. With an office ideally located in Lexington, Kentucky, “The Horse Capital of the World,” we have represented clients in nearly every facet of the equine industry for more than 75 years.

SKO serves as counsel to horse owners, racetracks, trainers and other equestrian professionals and associations in a variety of matters that involve the following:

  • Transactions and Financing
  • Gaming
  • Taxes
  • Real Estate
  • Immigration and Employment
  • Litigation and Alternative Dispute Proceedings
  • Syndications
  • Bankruptcy
  • Trade Associations and Organizations
  • Intellectual Property
  • Administrative Law

With heavy involvement in the Thoroughbred industry, we also handle matters that concern many other breeds, including American Saddlebreds, Arabians, Morgans, Standardbreds and Quarter Horses.

SKO represents equine groups and individuals before the United States Equestrian Federation, and throughout our history, have served as primary counsel to nonprofit, charitable and other equine industry organizations, including the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. SKO was also instrumental in founding Keeneland Racecourse in 1935.

From advice on general business planning and operations to complex, high-stakes matters, SKO strives to offer the most efficient, cost effective service possible to local, national and international clients.

Work Highlights

Constitutional Law

Jerry Jamgotchian v. Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, et al., Civil Action No. 11-CI-01047 (Franklin Circuit Court)

SKO represented the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission in a dormant commerce clause challenge filed against it by a thoroughbred owner regarding an industry-standard regulation pertaining to the purchase of horses in claiming races. SKO obtained summary judgment upholding the constitutionality of the regulation, which was affirmed on appeal by the Kentucky Court of Appeals.  The Kentucky Supreme Court accepted discretionary review.  Following briefing, Steven argued the case before the Kentucky Supreme Court.  In May 2016, the Kentucky Supreme Court affirmed the Kentucky Court of Appeals in the Commission’s favor in a unanimous published opinion.

Equine Tourism

SKO aided in the creation and formation of a non-profit Equine Tourism entity designed to garner tourism onto Central Kentucky horse farms and increase fan support and awareness in the sport of horse racing.

Related Practices: Real Estate, Equine Transactional

Reorganization of Equine Business, Insurance Trust and Gift Planning

Represented a husband and wife in planning and implementing the reorganization of a multi-million dollar equine business; in the preparation of multi-generation irrevocable trusts for each of the children and the gifting of interests in the equine business on a discounted basis to the trusts; in planning and implementing a multi-million dollar life insurance trust; and in preparing and implementing a beneficiary defective irrevocable dynasty trust.

Related Practices: Business Services, Tax

Equine Financing

Represented bank client in the documentation and negotiation of multiple secured credit facilities in excess of $20 million used to finance the obligors’ equine operations throughout the United States.

Horse Farm Transactions

SKO has represented numerous domestic and international clients with the acquisition and disposition of premier horse farms and related properties throughout the United States.
Related Practices: Real Estate, Equine Transactional

Rights of Nonprofit Members to Inspect Corporate Records

SKO represented certain members of a Kentucky nonprofit equine corporation in litigation against the nonprofit. When “significant deficiencies” were identified in the nonprofit’s $2 million annual budget, the organization refused to produce accounting records to the members who requested them. SKO obtained a summary judgment on behalf of its clients and defeated nonprofit’s motion for a stay of the judgment pending appeal. SKO also established that the nonprofit destroyed records, computer hard drives and backup servers during the pendency of the litigation. The Fayette Circuit Court held the nonprofit in contempt and ordered it to pay SKO’s fees. The nonprofit sought relief in the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Following the conclusion of the briefing by both parties, the nonprofit agreed to dismiss its appeals and to comply with the judgments entered in the Fayette Circuit Court action. This was a case of first impression in Kentucky. The Court held that, under Kentucky law, all Kentucky nonprofit corporations must allow their members to inspect and copy all of the corporation’s books and records.

Sale of Racecourse Interest

Represented a racetrack association in the sale of a portion of its ownership interest.  We handled all aspects of the transaction for our client and obtained approval by the the governing horse racing commission for the sale. 

USEF Administrative Proceeding

SKO represented four American Saddlebred horse show officials in an administrative hearing conducted by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), the United States' governing body for equestrian sports. In the hearing, the owner of a fallen horse filed multiple charges against the show’s officials when his horse died after becoming excited and striking its head as medical crew were attempting to assist an injured rider at the show. The horse owner alleged that show officials violated several safety rules that contributed to the death of the horse. If the owner prevailed, officials would face suspensions, fines and the potential for additional civil litigation. The USEF found in favor of SKO’s clients on all charges and acknowledged that while the incident was tragic, SKO’s clients acted appropriately and complied with all applicable rules.

Trademark Registration

SKO prepared, filed and prosecuted trademark applications for clients in a variety of industries including manufacturing, healthcare, equine, restaurants and other service-based businesses, and nonprofit organizations.

Enforcement of Prohibited Substance Regulations

SKO represented a horse racing commission in connection with proceedings imposing penalties against a Thoroughbred horse trainer and a veterinarian for the possession of prohibited substances, including cobra venom and Carbidopa/Levodopa, on the premises of a race track. The trainer was suspended one year for the cobra venom violation and served his suspension. The veterinarian was suspended for five years for the cobra venom and Carbidopa/Levodopa violations and appealed the suspension to the Franklin Circuit Court. The Franklin Circuit Court affirmed the four-year cobra venom suspension and reversed the one-year Carbidopa/Levodopa suspension. Both the veterinarian and the commission appealed the order to the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the appeals are currently pending.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claim

SKO represented a client in a federal action in California involving claims of fraud and civil conspiracy in connection with a multi-million dollar equine transaction.  SKO obtained a Rule 12 dismissal of the claims against its client, but the Court granted leave to amend.  After amendment of the claims by the Plaintiff, SKO was successful in obtaining another dismissal, with prejudice.

Constitutional Challenge to Racing Regulation

SKO represents a horse racing commission defending a lawsuit in which the plaintiff is challenging the validity of a racing regulation that places conditions on the racing of horses claimed at Kentucky race tracks. The plaintiff argues that the regulation violates the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. After both parties filed motions for summary judgment, the Franklin Circuit Court granted the motion of the commission, denied the motion of the Plaintiff and upheld the validity of the commission’s regulation. The time to appeal has not expired.

Acquisitions & Syndications

SKO represented clients in the acquisition of significant breeding interests in five Thoroughbreds which became ranked among the 10 leading sires of 2011 as well as three of the past six winners of the Kentucky Derby.  SKO continued to be active in the syndication of stallions rotating between hemispheres, including stallions rotating between Europe and Australasia, the United States and South America, and the United States and Australia, and the related tax issues involved.

Mergers & Acquisitions

We have represented a number of clients in the acquisition of thoroughbred farms and related membership interests, including verification of environmental data and private development rights.

Estate Planning & Administration

SKO administers the estates of notable horsewomen and horsemen and is actively involved in planning estates in the shifting economic climate.

Industry Involvement

National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA)

The Jockey Club

Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association

Breeders’ Cup Limited

Keeneland Association

Tax Advisory Board to the American Horse Council

News

Publications