Equine Practice

Stites & Harbison Knows Equine Law

We are a leading law firm for sophisticated transactions, difficult litigation, and complex regulatory issues, and our equine work reflects this capability. With a dedicated roster of seasoned and committed equine lawyers, the Stites & Harbison equine team stands ready to meet any legal need of the horse industry.

Located in the heart of Bluegrass horse country, our Lexington, Kentucky, office is the headquarters of a comprehensive equine law practice. Members of our equine team include the former Chair of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission; a founder, member of the Board of Directors, and former president of the American College of Equine Attorneys; the former chair of the Kentucky Bar Association's Equine Law Section; and the counsel to the Hearing Committee of the United States Equestrian Federation.

The Stites equine team knows horses and horse people. We represent clients in all areas of the equine industry, with a client roster that includes some of the most high-profile equine figures in Kentucky, the United States, and the world.

Our clients breed, raise, race, and show horses. They own and manage major breeding operations. They organize and manage syndicates. They include the owners of a Kentucky thoroughbred racetrack. They are broker/dealers who form and sell interests in vehicles for collective ownership of racing and breeding stock. They buy and sell horses for themselves and others, and seek our counsel for the right way to “get deals done.”

In addition to direct participants, we advise those who support and provide services to the industry, including:

  • Lenders
  • Farm real estate professionals
  • Accountants
  • Veterinarians
  • Equine transport companies and shipping consultants
  • Equine equipment manufacturers
  • Animal nutrition biotechnology companies
  • Auction companies, both traditional and Internet-based
  • Equine insurers
  • Equine industry magazines or publications

We operate in the industry every day, helping participants grow their businesses.

The Experience of the Stites Equine Team Displays Our Capability

We regularly counsel clients in complex equine transactions, domestically and internationally. The Stites & Harbison equine team has also helped clients with litigation in the courts of Kentucky and elsewhere, and represented clients before stewards, racing commissions, Jockey Clubs, show horse associations, and other panels.

Our equine practice extends far outside Kentucky. We serve as United States Counsel to the European Breeders Fund. We regularly represent Kentucky interests overseas. We also represent international interests in Kentucky with clients in England, Japan, Argentina and Brazil.

Stites & Harbison’s equine team has long represented prominent buyers, sellers and syndicators of the world’s top thoroughbreds. Over the last 20 years alone, the group’s transactions have an aggregate value of $700 million. We have represented numerous owners, stud farm owners or syndicators in transactions involving several Triple Crown® horses who have won a leg or more of the series. Some of these famous equine athletes include AMERICAN PHAROAH, CURLIN, RACHEL ALEXANDRA, MONARCHOS, FUSAICHI PEGASUS, AFLEET ALEX, BIG BROWN, and SMARTY JONES. Our clients spend a lot of time in the winner’s circle.

Additional entries in our track record:

  • In 2015, represented a Central Kentucky Thoroughbred breeding farm in the repatriation of EMPIRE MAKER from Japan for breeding purposes in the U.S.
  • In 2014, represented the U.S. owners of the Thoroughbred stallion THE FACTOR in the sale of Southern Hemisphere breeding rights to a group of Australian breeders.
  • Represented Stonestreet Stables, LLC, in the 2009 acquisition of Three Year Old Filly Eclipse Award winner and Horse of the Year, RACHEL ALEXANDRA, just days after her remarkable Kentucky Oaks® win and two weeks before her victory in The Preakness®. Within 24 hours of being contacted, the Stites & Harbison Equine Group had completed all documents, negotiations, and closed the deal.
  • Represented a Central Kentucky Thoroughbred breeding farm in the acquisition of an interest in and syndication of BIG BROWN, the 2008 Kentucky Derby® and Preakness® champion.
  • Represented a group of purchasers in 2007 in the acquisition of the Thoroughbred colt CURLIN prior to his wins in the Preakness® and the Breeders Cup Classic®, which resulted in the Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year.
  • Represented a Central Kentucky Thoroughbred breeding farm in the acquisition of an interest in and syndication of the Thoroughbred colt SMARTY JONES, who won the 2004 Kentucky Derby® and Preakness Stakes® and finished second in the 2004 Belmont Stakes®, falling just short of becoming the first Triple Crown® Winner in 28 years.
  • Represented a South American company in establishing a new horse farm in Argentina, marketing a joint venture with U.S. investors and importing two U.S. stallions for Southern Hemisphere breeding duties.
  • Represented Japan's leading breeder and stud farm owner in the acquisition of SUNDAY SILENCE for a reported $11 million from an English owner for the purpose of relocating the horse to Japan for stud duties.
  • Represented Crestwood Farm in the acquisition of an interest in and syndication of multiple Graded Stakes winner UNBRIDLED ENERGY, and the purchase of an interest in and cross-hemisphere syndication of CASTLEDALE.
  • Represent a leading thoroughbred industry trade publication as its general counsel (1994 – present).
  • Represent West Point Thoroughbreds, Inc. in general matters.
  • Act as counsel to the hearing committee for administrative hearings of the United States Equestrian Federation.
  • Since January, 2004, our group has represented banks and borrowers in loan transactions with equine collateral for aggregate borrowings of more than $100 million.

We Deploy All Resources of the Firm to Support Our Equine Clients

In addition to advising on equine transactions and litigation, the Stites & Harbison equine team can deploy the broader resources of the firm to assist in other issues our equine clients face, including:

  • Immigration and Employment. Our immigration lawyers can help farms ensure that employees are hired in an appropriate manner, and assist with employment issues that may arise.
  • Litigation and Regulatory. We have significant experience representing industry players in litigation and regulatory proceedings, including representing syndicate managers in syndicate disputes, owners of horses in administrative proceedings, and horse owners in tax court.
  • Tax. Our tax attorneys regularly advise clients in complex equine tax matters such as tax-free exchanges of horses and horse interests, and have considerable experience helping clients in tax court and other venues regarding ad valorem, sales and use tax, and state and federal income taxation matters, as well as other matters.
  • Gaming. Stites & Harbison lawyers have represented clients such as racetracks and casino operators with regard to a wide range of gaming topics including research and analysis of the legal and economic aspects of pari-mutuel wagering, simulcasting, electronic betting sites, including ADWs, Internet gaming, and Indian casino gaming. Our lawyers also have experience representing clients in regulatory matters before state horse racing commissions and the National Indian Gaming Commission.
  • Trade associations. Our attorneys have provided a variety of tax, legislative and other services to trade and manufacturers associations and groups, including the United States Equestrian Federation, Inc.
  • Intellectual Property. We have provided our equine clients with counsel and representation in the creation, registration, management, and litigation of intellectual property claims relating to their horses and equine businesses.
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Best Lawyers in America Honors 75 Stites & Harbison attorneys for 2020

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—The Best Lawyers in America© 2020 has recognized 75 Stites & Harbison, PLLC attorneys as selected by their peers in 49 areas of practice. Forty-three of those attorneys selected have been honored for 10 consecutive years or more.

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC August 22, 2019
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Stites & Harbison named to BTI Brand Elite 2019

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—BTI Consulting Group has named Stites & Harbison, PLLC as a best-branded law firm in its BTI Brand Elite 2019: Client Perceptions of the Best-Branded Law Firms.

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC May 29, 2019
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Stites & Harbison Recognized as Client Service Leader in BTI Client Service A-Team 2019

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—BTI Consulting Group recently selected Stites & Harbison, PLLC as a client service leader in the prestigious BTI Client Service A-Team 2019: The Survey of Law Firm Client Service Performance.

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC December 27, 2018