Thorn Song, a multiple Grade 1 stakes winner for embattled horse owner Ahmed Zayat, appears to be alive, even though Zayat cashed in a $2.75 million insurance claim last fall.
"I know the horse hasn't been put down," Mike Mitchell, Thorn Song's California trainer, said Tuesday. "I just checked with my vet and he said he has not been put down and he has a chance of standing as a stallion."
Thorn Song was taken to a veterinary clinic with severe abscesses in both front feet after bolting in a race July 25 at Del Mar, his first race for Mitchell.
Mitchell said he had not been involved with Thorn Song since the horse left Del Mar and could not speak to the circumstances of the insurance claim.
According to records filed by Fifth Third Bank in Zayat's bankruptcy case in New Jersey, Zayat claimed a loss on Thorn Song on Aug. 2, 2009. The check from North American Specialty Insurance Company states that the payment covers "HORSE MORTALITY THORN SONG LIMIT LESS DED."
In its filing, Fifth Third said the claim was made "under the mortality policy for Thorn Song" and that Zayat hid the payment rather than turn it over to the bank. Fifth Third also said Zayat has failed to name them as a loss payee on some policies on his horses, which are collateral for $34 million in loans.
"After receiving information that a horse named 'Thorn Song' was injured in a race, Fifth Third made multiple inquiries of the Defendants as to the whereabouts and well-being of Thorn Song, and whether that animal is an insurance loss," according to the filing. "Zayat Stables failed to respond to any of those inquiries."
Attorneys for Zayat did not return calls for comment.
An attorney for Fifth Third said the bank would have no comment.
The bank, which has sued Zayat in U.S. District Court in Lexington alleging he has defaulted on his loans, said it plans to ask for a trustee in the bankruptcy to take over Zayat's 200-plus racehorse stable.