Trainer and her father charged after 43 horses abandoned on Mercer County farm

One of the horses found at the farm on Martin Lane in Mercer County.
One of the horses found at the farm on Martin Lane in Mercer County. Provided by Victoria Keith

A horse trainer and her father have been charged after 43 horses, mostly Thoroughbreds, were abandoned on a Mercer County farm.

Charles “Chuck” Borell has been arrested on 43 counts of second-degree cruelty to animals, said Kentucky’s Department of Agriculture’s Shane Mitchell, who is the lead investigator on the case. Borell is the father of trainer Maria Borell, who has had various troubles since her horse Runhappy won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last fall. She was fired, and a lawsuit ensued. Mitchell said a warrant had been issued for Maria Borrell. She also has been charged with 43 accounts of second-degree cruelty to animals.

Six of the 43 horses discovered in early June were in particularly poor health and required more extensive care, state equine programs manager Rusty Ford said. Three of the horses were emaciated.

The six horses, including thoroughbreds Silver Cliff and Z Camelot, will be cared by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation horse farm at Blackburn Correctional Complex, said Diana Pikulski, the director of external affairs for the foundation. The remaining horses will be cared for on the farm where they were found.

“I know a lot of times we get a lot of negative criticism for not moving quickly enough,” Ford said at the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit Tuesday. “But there are processes and procedures that must be followed in making a legal case that will stand up in court. But what we never do is neglect the horse. These horses, since the first day we became involved, which was June 3, have been tended to daily.”

Volunteers and local law enforcement have cared for the horses since they were discovered on the farm at 263 Martin Lane, state veterinarian Robert Stout said Tuesday.

“Several entities in the equine industry have been very generous,” Stout said. “It’s been very gratifying to see the response.”

More than $21,500 has been donated on a GoFundMe page created for the horses. Other donations, including food for the horses, have been made directly to volunteers.

“For every bad apple that we have, I had 100 golden apples yesterday,” Fords said at the summit. “This industry needs to be commended. Multiple farms, and if I started naming individuals I would be here all day, have established accounts and resources to help us care for these horses.”

Herald-Leader staff writer Alicia Wincze Hughes contributed to this story.