IEAH catches up on debts, needs lessee for equine hospital

by | 09.20.2011 | 1:15pm

A sheriff's sale of five unraced 2-year-old Thoroughbreds owned wholly or in partnership by International Equine Acquisitions Holdings, scheduled for Sept. 23 at Eddie Woods Stables in Ocala, Fla., is in the process of being called off after IEAH president Michael Iavarone said $81,000 in accumulated financial obligations for boarding, training, feed and maintenance of the horses has been paid.

Earlier this month, Woods filed notice of his Claim of Lien and Intention to Sell the IEAH horses that have been in his care since 2010. Legal notices about the sale appeared in the Ocala Star-Banner.

Included in the group of horses is a 2-year-old full brother to Court Vision (Gulch–Weekend Storm, by Storm Bird), a multiple Grade 1 winner campaigned for IEAH, Resolute Stables, and WinStar Farm and was recently purchased by Spendthrift Farm.  The 2-year-old was owned in partnership with Resolute Group Stables. The others are an Awesome Again–Shaggy Mane colt, a Midas Eyes–Ravishly filly, a Friendly Island–Saraisittrue colt, and a Utopia–Star Celebrity colt.

“Anyone who shows up at the sale is going to be disappointed,” Iavarone told the Paulick Report. “It's not going to happen.” Iavarone said the outstanding debt to Woods has been “totally satisfied.”

Woods, reached at the Keeneland September yearling sale on Tuesday morning, said Iavarone called earlier in the day to say a check is being sent to cover the outstanding amount owed. “If the check he told me is on the way, then we'll cancel the sale,” Woods confirmed.

IEAH, meanwhile, is still trying to find someone to lease the company-built and owned Ruffian Equine Medical Center adjacent to Belmont Park racetrack in New York. The hospital, built by IEAH at a reported cost of $18 million, opened in June 2009 but closed its doors March 1 of this year. Dr. James C. Hunt had operated an equine practice and surgery at the state-of-the-art facility.

At the time the it was shuttered, Iavarone told Daily Racing Form the hospital would reopen on May 1 while it was “making some internal changes.”

On Tuesday, however, Iavarone said no group has agreed to lease the facility. “We hoped we were going to have someone, but in the end it just wasn't economically feasible for them,” he said. “It's a shame, too. It's the horse racing population that's suffering the most from it being closed.

“We are talking to two others, including a practice heavy on the show-horse population that has branches on Long Island” Iavarone said. “They've shown an interest. Obviously, we are landlords, we just own the facility and by law cannot go in there and run it. It has to work economically for whoever comes in. They have to be able to meet the overhead of the practice and be able to pay us rent. The equipment is owned by us. It's a turn-key facility.”

Iavarone said IEAH has no debt on the hospital.

IEAH, which was a finalist for an Eclipse Award as outstanding owner in 2008 when Big Brown won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes for IEAH and Paul Pompa Jr. is only “mildly active” as a racing stable, Iavarone said. “We are waiting on our next round of financing, sitting on the sidelines. We need to regroup as far as our financial needs go. Once we settle those needs, we'll dive back in.”

Iavarone said IEAH currently has a half-dozen horses in training, but has “a lot of babies. We have pieces or wholly own about 80-90 foals and yearlings,” he said, “a lot of them by Big Brown.”

Big Brown retired to Three Chimneys Farm in 2009. His first crop of foals are now yearlings.

IEAH purchased four yearlings at the Fasig-Tipton select Saratoga sale in August, totaling $730,000.

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