Equine & Gaming

Our Equine & Gaming service area is a multi-discipline practice group. Our clients include publicly traded horse racing, gaming and entertainment companies, privately-held racing, wagering and gaming partnerships and syndications, non-profit industry groups and trade associations, and individuals with interests in each of these fields. With a well-trained professional staff and the latest in computerized research systems, we move quickly to address the most sophisticated legal matters. Our clients range in size from Fortune 500 companies to small, family owned businesses.

Our Firm has represented Churchill Downs Incorporated for more than 50 years. The connection between Wyatt and Churchill Downs reaches back to the days of Matt Winn, the man widely credited with building the Kentucky Derby into the world renowned event that it is today.

Through our representation of horse owners, trainers, breeders and blood stock agents, we are able to assist in a variety of ways, including the formation of racing partnerships and other multiple ownership vehicles used to build and increase their businesses. We have extensive experience in the area of Thoroughbred breeding and Thoroughbred breeding operations.

Members of our Equine & Gaming group bring more than just legal knowledge to the challenges presented by clients. The service area can boast lawyers who have represented the two largest race track operators in the country. This knowledge and experience can be a valuable asset to clients seeking to do business in the racing and gaming business, both nationally and internationally.

Our partner alumni include Jim Newberry, former Mayor of Lexington, and Alex Waldrop, CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

Stallion Sales and Syndications. We are leaders in the purchase and sale of stallion prospects and in the syndication of stallions.  Our firm represents horse owners and stallion farms in their sale or acquisition of stallion prospects both in and out of Kentucky.  Our attorneys are well versed in the current drafting issues and negotiated points in Syndication Agreements, both Northern and Southern Hemisphere.  Recent stallion prospect deals that our attorneys have negotiated include ARCHARCHARCH, COURT VISION, WARRIOR’S REWARD, TIZWAY, DUBLIN, TIZ WONDERFUL, DON’T GET MAD, PLUCK, VISIONAIRE, FAIRBANKS, PADDY O’PRADO, CROWN OF THORNS, and VICTOR’S CRY.

Racing Partnerships and Other Multiple Ownership Vehicles. Several members of our Team have a wide range of skills and abilities to bring to the task of helping clients form and properly organize multiple ownership arrangements in horse racing and breeding. We regularly represent both promoters and participants in bringing together the capital and experience essential to these increasingly popular ownership vehicles. We represent the multiple ownership vehicles involved in ownership of the following current stakes horses: ANIMAL KINGDOM (winner of the 2011 Kentucky Derby), PLUCK (winner of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup 2 year old Turf), DAVERON (GER), GYPSY WARNING (SAF), and SUMMER SOIREE.  Clients will find Wyatt lawyers familiar with the planning challenges presented by multiple ownership transactions such as partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability companies and other co-ownership arrangements or syndications. Our clients include many of the leading racing partnership companies in the country.

Equine Litigation. Wyatt’s litigators handle a variety of equine litigation matters, including jury trials, preliminary injunctions, appeals, arbitrations, agister’s and veterinarian liens, alternative dispute resolution and domain name proceedings.  We also help clients avoid litigation by advising them in the areas of risk management, negotiating settlements, analyzing infringement situations and protecting patent and other intellectual property rights.

Wyatt’s attorneys have been involved in litigation over some of the world’s greatest thoroughbreds including, ROSES IN MAY, LAWYER RON and PROUD CITIZEN to name a few.  Some of Wyatt’s more significant equine litigation experience includes the following:

  • Dr. David Lambert v. Ken Ramsey, Fayette Circuit Court, Lexington, KY. Wyatt represented Dr. David Lambert in a breach of an oral contract claim against Ken Ramsey. Dr. Lambert is a veterinarian who specializes in attending thoroughbred horse auctions and using a variety of techniques to try and identify horses that he believes will ultimately prove to be successful on the race track. Ken Ramsey hired him to attend a 2 year old in training sale in Ocala, Florida. At that sale, Dr. Lambert identified and purchased for Mr. Ramsey a horse called ROSES IN MAY. In addition to receiving a 2½% commission on the purchase price, Dr. Lambert contended that the parties had an oral agreement whereby Mr. Ramsey would pay him certain bonuses if ROSES IN MAY went on to achieve a certain level of success at the race track. Mr. Ramsey denied that he agreed to pay any bonuses. Ultimately, ROSES IN MAY turned out to be highly successful, winning over 5 million dollars at the track and was sold for millions more. As a result, Wyatt argued that Dr. Lambert was entitled to $250,000 in bonuses. After a 3 day trial, the jury agreed and returned a verdict in favor of Dr. Lambert for the full amount of the claim.
  • John and Susan Moore v. Bill Landes, American Arbitration Association. Wyatt defended Bill Landes who sold the thoroughbred colt TIGER to John and Susan Moore at the Fasig Tipton two year old in training sale in Maryland. The Moores alleged that Mr. Landes failed to disclose a prior invasive joint surgery. The Moores claimed fraud, breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation. The arbitrator ruled in favor of Mr. Landes on all counts and awarded the Moores nothing on their claims. The arbitrator’s decision was subsequently affirmed by the Fayette Circuit Court and the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

Racetrack Issues. Our lawyers negotiated, drafted and implemented the replacement of Churchill Downs’ long-time food service provider, Aramark, with Chicago, Illinois-based Levy Restaurants. The Levy agreement created a financial and operational partnership that has vastly improved the dining experience at Churchill Downs. Our attorneys negotiated a similar food service contract as well as all operating contracts at Gulfstream Park.  Our lawyers also assisted with the coordination of the massive Churchill Downs Master Renovation Plan – an 18 month-long effort involving architects, engineers, luxury suite sales and seat licensing experts, bankers, and others. The team’s efforts culminated in the $126 million track-wide renovation of Churchill’s century old facility that was completed in the spring of 2005.

Regulatory. Several of the Group’s members, draw on extensive knowledge, experience and contacts to achieve our clients’ goals. Our substantive understanding of regulated industries and interrelationships with public decision makers and regulators enables our Firm to successfully develop, advocate and implement integrated business, legal and government strategies and activities.

Import and Export Issues. Through our experience with Churchill Downs and the Breeders Cup World Championships, we have gained first-hand knowledge of the legal issues presented by the transportation of horses from other countries into the United States, including the technical requirements of the United States Department of Agriculture relative to the quarantine of equine athletes just after arrival from foreign countries. We also know the legal issues that can arise from the housing of the people employed to care for these animals.

Intellectual Property. Members of our Equine & Gaming Group help clients in every phase of their businesses, from identifying intellectual property assets to protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights. We register trademarks and copyrights, set up trade secret protection programs, negotiate and draft license agreements, evaluate infringement issues, conduct due diligence on intellectual property assets, and devise long term strategies for protecting intellectual property. Through our long-standing relationships with foreign associates, we assist clients in obtaining patents and trademark registrations in dozens of countries around the world. We represent software developers in the registration, protection, sale, acquisition, licensing and other disposition of rights in computer programs. We also assist entertainment clients and other celebrities in the protection, licensing and exploitation of personality rights in names, likenesses and personality attributes.

Our experience is not limited to Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. We are outside counsel to Breeders’ Cup Limited and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Inc. and Triple Crown Productions, LLC on matters pertaining to the protection, use and sale of intellectual property rights. Our lawyers know first hand the challenges of national and international event sponsorship and trademark protection, infringement and licensing.

International. We represent numerous international concerns, including companies that are working to bring Thoroughbred racing to Europe, South America, and Asia.  Clients such as these provide our attorneys with additional opportunities to bring the Firm’s unique talents to bear on equine projects that are international in scope and appeal.

Our attorneys are knowledgeable about import, export, and quarantine issues as they relate to the international travel of racehorses and sport horses.

Merchandising Strategy. With regard to Churchill Downs, more than twenty years ago, we devised a strategy for protecting the famous KENTUCKY DERBY mark in relation to various merchandise. We registered the mark and other marks relating to the event, helped to negotiate agreements with licensees and suggested the adoption of and then assisted with a City of Louisville ordinance which is used in connection with stopping the sale of unlicensed merchandise. We also filed and prosecuted lawsuits against vendors of unlicensed merchandise, including several unusual actions in which a federal court in Kentucky issued injunctions against “John Does” who were expected to sell unlicensed goods at or near the racetrack. Pursuant to those injunctions, federal marshals seized unlicensed merchandise. The actions were successful and, in recent years, there has been no need for additional litigation.

Media Contracts. We have also assisted with drafting and negotiating agreements with television and radio networks regarding coverage of the Kentucky Derby and related events. These include agreements with NBC Television, ABC Television, ESPN Sports, ABC Radio and Premier Sports Radio.

Registering and Protecting the Mark. Breeders Cup Limited has entrusted us with its entire trademark portfolio since 1994. Its famous mark is protected in more than thirty countries. In 2001, we were called upon to assist with the rebranding of its championship day as the BREEDERS’ CUP WORLD THOROUGHBRED CHAMPIONSHIPS. We have registered that mark and variations of it in numerous jurisdictions. The Firm also assisted Breeders’ Cup Limited in successfully resolving many infringement issues, including some in close proximity to the championship day event and several in foreign countries.

Since 2001, we have represented the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Inc. in connection with its intellectual property matters, protecting such famous marks as GO BABY GO and WHO DO YOU LIKE TODAY?.

Internet Experience. We have been very involved in all aspects of Internet marketing from the beginning of that phenomenon. We drafted and negotiated operational agreements for TechRepublic, a Louisville Internet business, as well as many other Internet-based businesses. We have also represented numerous parties in domain name disputes, including the soccer player, Freddie Adu, and the entertainer, Ricky Skaggs.

Event Hosting. The Group has extensive experience negotiating, drafting and implementing a vast array of operational agreements and arrangements involving catering, security, insurance, risk management, shipping, and ticketing.

Immigration. Members of our Group have assisted our equine, gaming and entertainment clients obtain non-immigrant visas from the Department of Homeland Security for specialized occupations, extraordinary aliens, athletes and entertainers, intra-company transferees, business visitors, and under the North American Free Trade Agreement. We have also worked with treaty traders and treaty investors seeking expansion of their businesses in the United States, alien entrepreneurs seeking permanent residence in the United States, and assisted in obtaining visa waivers.

Organizations we have represented include numerous Central Kentucky Thoroughbred horse farms, marketing and consulting firms, as well as Japanese, German, Canadian and Indian companies.

Recently, our immigration work has included assignments for clients from France, Russia, Czech Republic, Japan, Korea, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, Ireland, Israel, Iceland, Poland, China, Malaysia, Mexico, Germany, Australia, Spain, India, Iraq, and South Africa, among others.

Related Areas of the Law

Members of our Equine, Gaming & Entertainment Group, with the help of other lawyers in our full service firm, help clients address a wide variety of ancillary legal challenges facing their businesses, including tax planning, employee benefits mandates, trust and estate planning, and other similar areas requiring significant background and experience in the related area. This broad approach to clients’ problems sets us apart from practitioners and firms without the extensive range of experience that we can bring to bear on any problem or challenge presented by the client.

Defining Successes

Helping Stables Meet Seasonal Labor Needs

Thoroughbred horse stables train thoroughbred horses to race. The yearlings arrive in September each year and require additional labor.


Read More