Woman Takes Olympic Champ to Court Over Horse Sale

(CN) – A Florida woman is facing off in court against Olympic show jumper Eric Lamaze over claims that a million-dollar champion sport horse she partly owned was sold without her approval.

In a complaint filed in Palm Beach County, Fla. on Monday, Janice Aron claims Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable in Wellington, Fla. allowed an unauthorized sale of the sport horse to a buyer in the United Kingdom, leaving her with little to show for her 20-percent ownership interest.

The gelding, First Choice 15, was part of the Canadian show jumping team that finished fourth at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Under a 2014 agreement between the parties, Lamaze and his stable were responsible for managing and caring for First Choice 15, while Aron and several others would hold fractional ownership interests in the horse, the complaint says.

Aron says that under the terms of the contract, Lamaze was entitled to keep prize money earned from the horse, while she and her co-owners would split “any profit made on the horse” through resale.

Aron claims she was provided with an invoice indicating First Choice was sold for €220,000, far less than the horse is worth, Aron claims. She says she was deprived of a contractually guaranteed right of first refusal, which gave her and her co-owners the option to step in and buy off interests in the horse before those interests could be sold to third parties.

Filed through her company Kinloch Enterprises, Aron’s  complaint was submitted as a bill of discovery, and as such, does not list any counts for damages against Lamaze and Torrey Pines.
Aron and her attorney Anthony Barbuto say they intend to file a conversion and fraud lawsuit against the parties responsible for the allegedly unauthorized sale, but they first need a discovery order to compel Torrey Pines to hand over all documents tied to the transaction.

Aron wants  to determine the whereabouts of the horse, who is holding the sale proceeds, whether any of her co-owners consented to the sale, and whether the horse was appraised.

According to the underlying contract documents, Aron’s company’s stake in the horse was once valued at $200,000.
Torrey Pines and Lamaze on Friday did not respond to requests for comment.
Lamaze is perhaps best known for his gold medal in the individual show-jumping event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He has had a storied career as an equestrian competitor, winning back-to-back at international Grand Prix competitions in La Baule and Rome in May 2011, and repeating that feat in 2014.

On his home turf at the Canadian equestrian center at Spruce Meadows, he has been dominant. Show jumping magazine Noelle Floyd reported that Lamaze in 2014 became the first rider ever to earn $4 million in prize money at Spruce Meadows.

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