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Developers appeal ruling in Kentucky Horse Park hotel case

The developers of a proposed hotel at the Kentucky Horse Park will appeal a recent court decision that ruled the state legally terminated the hotel construction contract.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd agreed that the state could terminate the contract in 2008 after it became clear that financing would not be available in time to build the hotel before the World Equestrian Games in 2010.

In the opinion, Shepherd also criticized the developers for a plan that depended on politically connected players and taxpayer largesse. The developers had set up a non-profit group so the state could issue tax-exempt bonds.

"We are surprised and disappointed that Judge Shepherd ignored the legal issues before the court and chose instead to criticize the Bluegrass Equine and Tourism Foundation's role in developing the hotel for the benefit of Kentucky's taxpayers," lead developer Brad Burgess said in a statement. "None of the personal attacks he included in his opinion are relevant to the legal issues before the court. Suggesting that politics played a role in our being awarded the contract ignores the fact that we participated in and fully complied with the state's bidding process, and won it fair and square."

Burgess contends the state canceled the project without cause. "All the commonwealth has done is incur penalties set forth in the contract, as the appeals process will show," his statement said.

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