Quarrel Over Income From a Classy Horse

     BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. (CN) – A Saratoga Springs company with a stake in the thoroughbred “Inherit the Gold” asked a court for its share of the gelding’s 2012 winnings and an accounting to see if the husband-and-wife team that trains, manages and boards the horse has diverted money.
     Glas-Tipp Stable sued Susanne and James Hooper, Ochra House Stable, Haven Oaks Farm, and The New York Racing Association, in Saratoga County Supreme Court.
     Glas-Tipp accuses the Hoopers, who operate the thoroughbred Haven Oaks Farm in nearby Fort Edward, Washington County, of fraud and breach of fiduciary duties.
     Glas-Tipp and Susanne Hooper created a partnership in 2006 to be equal owners of “Inherit the Gold,” who has racked up close to $480,000 in winnings since he began racing in 2009, according to the complaint.
     “Defendant Susanne Hooper colluded with defendant James Hooper to deny Glas-Tipp Stable LLC partnership funds and to apply partnership funds towards personal expenses and/or to fund other non-partnership business ventures,” the complaint states.
     Glas-Tipp claims the Hoopers used “dishonest and confusing billing practices of Haven Oaks Farm” to mask “the diverting or commingling of partnership funds.”
     “Inherit the Gold,” a gray gelding, was dubbed “Harry” when he was born at Haven Oaks in 2006 because the rings around his eyes made him look like the bespectacled storybook character Harry Potter.
     The horse is the New York-bred son of Gold Token, according to the thoroughbred website Bloodhorse.com, and has raced his entire life in New York.
     Equibase Co., which provides racing data to thoroughbred tracks in North America, puts the horse’s career statistics at 25 starts, 10 first-place finishes, five second-place finishes and three third-place finishes. This year he is 2-1-0 in five starts, with earnings as of this week of $111,300.
     A story posted on Aqueduct Racetrack’s website, after “Inherit the Gold” won the Grade 3 Excelsior there last spring, paints the horse as a savior of Haven Oaks and the Hoopers, both of which suffered during the recession.
     The couple cut back on the number of horses raised on the farm, according to the story, and sold off 20 acres. James Hooper got a trainer’s license in 2010 and took to training “Inherit the Gold,” who had a hot streak of wins last year, and took the Excelsior by more than 6 lengths.
     “He’s the only one who’s been writing the checks,” James Hooper is quoted in the story as saying.
     Glas-Tipp Stable, a thoroughbred horse owner comprised of brother and sister Ed and Mary Murray of Saratoga Springs, claims in the lawsuit that the Hoopers acknowledge owing money to the partnership. But despite requests, the Hoopers “have failed to provide an accurate accounting to Glas-Tipp Stable LLC of partnership funds,” the complaint states. The Hoopers also failed to provide proof that partnership funds are kept separate from personal funds, according to the complaint.
     Susanne Hooper has not accounted for Breeder Awards presented by the New York Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund to the owners of New York-bred horses based on performance, according to the complaint. Glas-Tipp does not state the value of award money received, but claims Susanne Hooper diverted it to personal use or commingled it with personal funds.
     She sold a 12.5 percent stake in the “Inherit the Gold” partnership in March to defendant Ochra House Stable, according to the complaint. Ochra House is identified as a limited liability company in Saratoga Springs.
     Glas-Tipp claims the Hoopers sent it a check for $4,611.10 in April, “which supposedly represented amounts due Glas-Tipp Stable LLC for 2012 racing earnings” – but then canceled it.
     Glas-Tipp claims its share of 2012 earnings should be $54,700.
     Glas-Tipp seeks damages for fraud and breach of fiduciary duties, and an accounting.
     It is represented by attorney John Leggett of Saratoga Springs.

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