Equine Industry


Crawford Farms Lexington, LLC v. Jeffrey Treadway, et al. 

Represented consignor in lawsuit arising from sale of racing or broodmare prospect at auction.  After sale, genetic testing revealed that the mare was genetically male.  Purchaser sued auction company, consignor, seller, and examining veterinarian, alleging multiple claims against each.  We pursued an aggressive early motion for summary judgment based on the conditions of sale and the economic loss rule.  After briefing and argument, the Fayette Circuit Court granted our motion. 

Counsel for Elizabeth Z. Woodward, Receiver, In re Zayat Stables, LLC

Client: Elizabeth Z. Woodward

Ellen represented Elizabeth Z. Woodward in her role as court appointed receiver in the case MGG Investment Company v. Zayat Stables LLC et al, and successfully defended a challenge to the continued receivership when Zayat Stables, LLC filed for bankruptcy protection. Zayat Stables, LLC was the owner of the 2015 Triple Crown and Breeders Cup Classic winner American Pharoah, and more than 70 thoroughbreds when the receiver action was filed. The receiver was tasked with locating and physically securing the Zayat Stables horses, which were being boarded and trained all over the country and selling them through a combination of auctions at Keeneland Association, Inc., Fasig-Tipton Co. and private sales. Through the sales process, Ellen assisted the receiver in evaluating asserted lien claims and making the appropriate distributions out of sale proceeds. The receiver was also tasked with racing decisions, which required placing horses in appropriate races along with the administrative work of securing insurance and care for horses as may be necessary, determining ownership of breeding rights which had been assigned to others by Zayat Stables, collecting unclaimed purses at race courses across the country, settling unresolved claims against Zayat Stables filed before racing authorities in several states and filing her accounting with the presiding courts.

Spencer Benedict Stables v. Burkmann Feeds of Glasgow

Represented an animal feed manufacturer in a toxic tort case in which a farm alleged that contamination in a custom mixed horse feed caused an outbreak of illness and death involving 40 horses. The plaintiffs sued two component part manufacturers and our client who developed the formula and mixed the finished feed. The case required specialized knowledge of the animal feed business, FDA requirements and investigation processes, sequencing and other best practices to avoid cross-contamination, and detailed knowledge of each of the horses affected. The parties engaged in plant and farm inspections, thousands of pages of document production, and more than fifty depositions. 

Rodrock v. Gumz, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57245

Represented plaintiffs in business dispute related to stallion management and partnership agreements. Client entered agreement with a farm to stand four Quarter Horse stallions, and also bred several mares in partnership with the farm.  A dispute arose over whether the farm was breeding personal and farm-owned mares to the client’s stallions without payment.  We pursued multiple contract and tort-based claims against the farm and coordinated and supervised the removal of all client horses from the property.  A federal district court applying Kentucky law denied defendants’ motion to dismiss four of our claims and found that the economic loss rule did not apply to service contracts. 

Real Life Background = Real World Legal Advice

Client: Split Rock Jumping Tour

Derek Braun needs more than a corporate attorney when conducting business for his Split Rock Show Jumping Tour company based Lexington, Ky. He needs an attorney with in-depth knowledge and experience working in the equine industry. Dinsmore attorney Laura Holoubek and her team have been meeting those needs for more than a decade. Laura advises national and international clients on all types of equine matters, chaired the University of Kentucky College of Law’s Annual National Equine Law Conference for six years, and established the Equine Law program at the university as an adjunct professor, the first of its kind in the nation.

“Her equine law experience is invaluable for me,” Derek said. “Like in any other industry, you need someone who knows the (business’s) ins and outs.” 

“Laura is unique as she also is a competitor so she brings her horse background along with business and legal expertise to the discussion.”

When Derek purchased a farm and established the Split Rock Jumping Tour, Laura and her team began providing counsel on his business, real estate, intellectual property and equine-specific needs. Over time, the tour has steadily grown from one to 11 events in six states annually, and it is revered by top equestrian competitors, owners, and sponsors. Laura and her Dinsmore team continue to advise Derek on matters including USEF and FEI horse show date applications; vendor, judge, and steward agreements; live-streaming agreements; software application development agreements; sponsorship and management agreements, liability, employment matters; and general advice involving the tour’s conduct and operation. This counsel ensures Derek can both grow his business and pursue his passion.

Photo credit: Winslow Photography

Ongoing Counsel to World Equestrian Center

Client: World Equestrian Center

Ongoing corporate and regulatory counsel to World Equestrian Center in all aspects of organization and implementation of world class equestrian facility equestrian events at Florida and Ohio facilities. We advise ownership and management regarding USEF and FEI license applications, mileage exemption requests, appeal of date awards, and negotiation of global resolution of Florida date requests. 

Counsel to Private Equity Firm in $150 Million Dollar Financing of Kentucky Downs

Client: Private Equity Firm

Kentucky lender’s counsel and specialty (gaming and regulatory) counsel to private equity firm in $150 Million Dollar financing of purchase and redevelopment of Kentucky Downs racetrack and gaming operation.  Review of corporate operating documents, term sheet, commitment letter, deposit account control agreements, credit agreements, guarantees, Kentucky mortgages and title work.  Representation before the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission for regulatory approval of financing and securitization of gaming assets. Advised on the content and interpretation of Kentucky horse racing, pari-mutuel wagering, historical horse racing laws, and gaming changes, with regard to statutes and regulations.

Bid to Obtain New Racetrack and Gaming License

Client: Caesar’s Entertainment

Representation of publicly traded gaming company in bid to obtain new racetrack and gaming license before the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Analysis of applicable statutes and regulations, competitive environment and competing bids, license and bid submissions. Numerous appearances before The Kentucky Racing Commission on behalf of the client.

Represented Investor Group in Purchase of Interest in Kentucky Racetrack

Client: The Ascot Group

Assisted investor group with purchase of minority interest in Kentucky racetrack and advice on expansion of operations into historical horse racing machines (“HHR”) and the legality thereof.  Negotiation of purchase agreement, shareholder agreement and management agreement.  Provided counsel regarding licensing of owners of minority interest in the racetrack and successful representation before the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Provided ongoing corporate governance and pari-mutuel wagering advice throughout term of ownership.

Representation of Advanced Deposit Wagering (“ADW”) Companies

Client: Advance Deposit Wagering Companies

Ongoing representation of numerous advanced deposit wagering (“ADW”) (iGaming) companies with respect to federal and  50 state legal opinions for purposes of assessing legality and licensing requirements in each state culminating in payment processing opinions provided to major processors such as World Pay, Pay Pal, First Data and others. Analysis and application of Wire Act, Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, UIGEA, and other federal and state gaming laws.

Sale of an Interest in iGaming Company

Client: Horse Racing Fantasy Wagering Company

Counseled client through the sale of an interest in iGaming company as well as option agreements for sale of additional percentages in the company, earn-out provisions and related contract negotiations. Drafted rules and regulations for online fantasy horse racing handicapping qualifiers and tournaments. Reviewed contracts with major racetracks, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, and National Handicapping Championship. 

Resolved Horse Import/Export Dispute

Client: “S” Judge

Successfully represented a buyer during a dispute with an equine import company when a dressage horse failed USDA vetting upon import. Dinsmore determined that the import company failed to fully and accurately represent the prior testing performed and obtained the favorable result of returning the horse to the country of origin at the cost of the import company.

Dinsmore Obtains Dismissal for Prominent Show Jumper Trainer

Client: Prominent Show Jumper Trainer

A well-respected horse trainer in south Florida sold a sport horse. The buyer claimed the horse had an undisclosed condition resulting in the failure to perform for the intended use.  After minimal discovery and motion practice, Dinsmore obtained dismissal of the lawsuit for its client.

Dinsmore Obtains Summary Judgment for Horse Registry Association

Client: Horse Registry Non-Profit Association

A horse registry association was sued by one of its members related to the proper registration of a horse.  After 18 months of litigation, Dinsmore obtained summary judgment and a six-figure attorneys’ fee award for its client association.

Defects Found in Horse Show Footing

Client: Nationally Known Horse Show Facility

Litigation counsel for licensed competition after defects were found in newly installed horse show footing.  After filing suit and establishing defects in the construction through documentary evidence and expert testimony, the matter was settled favorably for Dinsmore’s client.  

Land Use Resolution

Client: Patchen Wilkes Farm

Assisted the owners of Patchen Wilkes Farm with the approval of a single-family residential development of a portion of the farm; with the townhouse development adjoining Patchen Lake; with the leasing of the majority of the remainder of the farm to tenants involved in the breeding and boarding of thoroughbreds; and with day-to-day issues arising from the owners’ oversight of the residential and townhouse development and the tenant’s farm operations.

Litigation Involving the Ownership of Hundreds of Undeveloped Farm Acres in Fayette County

The Firm successfully represented a well-known philanthropist in litigation involving the ownership of hundreds of undeveloped farm acres in Fayette County. Dinsmore obtained a judgment in Federal Court on behalf of a Trust, which judgment confirmed the Trust’s ownership of the property (against the claims of a local developer). A portion of the disputed property was recently sold by the Trust for $10 million and hundreds of acres remain owned and controlled by the Trust.

Purchase and Sale of Sport Horse and Thoroughbred Farms

The Firm routinely represents buyers and sellers in the purchase and sale of sport horse and thoroughbred horse farms in Central Kentucky, including Split Rock Farm; a 150 acre farm adjoining Claiborne Farm in Bourbon County; a 385 acre farm in Woodford County;  Maplecrest Farm, Take The High Road, Oasis Stables North and a carriage horse training and boarding farm located in Scott County. 

LLC Formation and Tenant Troubles

Client: A Horse Stable Owner

Formed the client LLC and facilitated transfer of a farm into a LLC. Worked with the client to negotiate a lease agreement with a horse trainer interested in leasing the property. After advising the client on several issues related to the trainer’s compliance with the lease, we assisted the client in declaring the trainer to be in default, terminating the lease agreement, and initiating and completing forcible detainer proceedings to evict the trainer. We then assisted the client in negotiating a new lease agreement and a settlement agreement with the trainer.

Horse Boarding Operations

Client: Numerous Private and Commercial Equine Facilities

We routinely represent clients of all equine disciplines in farm purchases, with the intent to undertake a horse boarding operation. In conjunction with the client’s accountants, we advise clients on entity formation and form entities to hold the real estate and run the business, respectively. We prepare a lease agreements for the business LLC to lease the farm from the property LLC, and we facilitate the transfer of personal property (horses) into the business LLC. We also advise the client on risk management and insurance issues relating to boarding operations including boarding agreements and  waivers. 

Pre-Purchase Disputes

Client: A Purchaser of a Show Horse

Our client purchased an American Saddlebred show horse in reliance upon a pre-purchase examination performed by a local veterinarian. The examination failed to note navicular cysts in both front feet despite the cysts being visible on radiographs taken during the exam. The horse became chronically lame and required management for the rest of his life. We assisted our client in submitting a claim to veterinarian’s malpractice insurer and in negotiating a settlement without the need for litigation.   

Syndication of Thoroughbred Stallions, & Sport Horses

We draft and negotiate purchase and sales agreements for racehorses, stallion prospects and elite show jumpers, hunters and event horses.


Counsel to Equine Non-Profits

We serve as outside general counsel for numerous equine non-profits including Saddlebred Rescue, Retired Racehorse Project, The Thoroughbred Makeover, New Vocations, Paso Fino Horse Association. Our equine rescue and rehabilitation clients purchase horses from auctions and sales, or receive donated horses, to rehabilitate any health concerns, by using a professional trainer to evaluate the horses, determine their level of training and suitability, and adopt them into appropriate homes. Our work for rescues includes handling corporate compliance, insurance and fundraising issues, drafting and guiding policies on social media use and revising adoption contracts and releases.