A federal judge in Lexington on Wednesday urged Lane's End Farm and stallion share owner Jerry Jamgotchian to find a way to settle their lawsuit over the release of names and financial records for Lemon Drop Kid's syndicate.
Jamgotchian, a Thoroughbred racehorse owner from California, bought a share in the stallion earlier this year and promptly sent requests to see the financial records and names of other shareholders.
Lane's End, a leading stud farm in Woodford County, said it asked the other owners if they wanted the information to be disclosed, and all 39 said no. Lane's End is owned by former U.S. Ambassador Will Farish and his family. Farish was not in court, but farm manager Michael Cline sat with observers. Neither Jamgotchian nor Cline testified.
Jamgotchian filed suit in U.S. District Court, demanding full access to all records.
"My whole thing is I believe Lane's End has a lot to hide," Jamgotchian said after a hearing on Lane's End's motion to dismiss the case and Jamgotchian's motion for summary judgment. He said his goal was to bring greater transparency to the breeding industry and Lane's End in particular.
William Hoskins, attorney for Lane's End, said Jamgotchian had asked to visit March 21, and the farm had books and records ready, but he canceled and filed the lawsuit.
"Now he wants to come tomorrow," Hoskins said Wednesday. The records "are available, updated. We have absolutely nothing to hide, and we would welcome him."
Lemon Drop Kid stands for $35,000; Jamgotchian bought his share for $350,000.
Jamgotchian has listed his Lemon Drop Kid share in the November Fasig-Tipton auction, Lot No. 149.
"I need to see what the market is," Jamgotchian said. If the share were to sell, he would keep his standing in the case but lose future claims.
In court, Judge Jennifer Coffman pressed the farm's attorneys on where the ownership agreement spelled out what should remain confidential.
"Is there something that says which documents are confidential? No," said John Hays, attorney for Lane's End.
Jamgotchian's attorney, Richard Getty, agreed. "There's absolutely nothing that says they can pick and choose" which records to disclose.
Coffman also pointed out that the agreement provides for meetings of owners in person or by proxy.
"That undercuts your argument," Coffman said to Hays.
He said in the 11 years that Lemon Drop Kid has been a stallion at the farm, there has never been a meeting of owners.
Hays said that had Jamgotchian been more discreet in his emails or agreed not to disclose the names publicly or to the press, the farm would let him see the unredacted records but not make copies.
"Lane's End has been concerned about the plaintiff's penchant for distributing private information to others," Hays said.
He said that since the day after Jamgotchian bought his share, the farm has been "bombarded" with threatening emails requesting documents, and he pointed out that the messages were sent to many members of the media as well.
"Had this plaintiff not shared with the world, those names would have been there," Hays said.
But Getty said that wasn't the case. "We hit a stone wall from the beginning," he said.
Getty argued that the owners ought to be able to communicate directly with one another without going through Lane's End.
"This is a syndicate where co-owners of a stallion are involved," he said. "That's a business, not a secret society."
Hays said that because the farm has polled all the other owners, who have asked not to have their names released, Lane's End is now bound by those requests.
Coffman asked for further motions by the end of the month and indicated she planned to rule soon.
Jamgotchian previously won a related case in U.S. District Court in February. Judge Karen Caldwell ordered Lane's End to forward to owners his offer to buy shares of Lemon Drop Kid and Kingmambo and ruled that competing offers must match the commission Jamgotchian was willing to pay. Another undisclosed buyer bought the share in retired Kingmambo.