A lawsuit filed in the Manhattan Supreme Court alleges that the Thoroughbred filly Filibustin was fraudulently registered, making the horse's owner ineligible to collect New York-bred incentive money he contends he is due from the state's Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund.
The New York Post and Daily News reported that businessman Alan R. Cook is suing a former employee, Jacquie Dalton Fiorito, the Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund and The Jockey Club, the latter being the Thoroughbred breed registry.
In his lawsuit, Cook claims that he is the sole breeder of Filibustin because he owns the filly's dam, Sweet Aloha. According to the published reports, he is seeking damages from Fiorito and the New York Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund totaling $165,000 and an order that The Jockey Club change the name of the registered breeder.
Fiorito was the chief operating officer of Cook's aviation company, Metropolitan Aviation, until she was terminated in March 2016. Cook, according to the published reports, says he fired Fiorito for “insubordination.” Fiorito told the Paulick Report: “I did not get fired for insubordination. I was fired on the last day of medical leave. It was the same day I filed a protective order against him (March 9, 2016, in Virginia).”
The suit claims that Fiorito “fraudulently” registered Filibustin under her own breeding entity, Luck Be A Lady Racing, and that the registration should be changed to his name.
Because of the dispute, the Breeding and Development Fund has withheld breeder awards to either party.
Fiorito said she has not been served and therefore has not seen the complaint.
Fiorito worked for New Jersey-based trainer John Forbes as a jockey in the early 1990s (under the name Jacquie Dalton), winning 19 races from 202 mounts. She began Luck Be a Lady Racing as a breeding operation in 2008 and, she said, entered into a verbal agreement with Cook in 2011 to sell 50 percent interest in her two foals “on the ground” and 100 percent of future foals from mares she bred. The agreement, she said, allowed Cook to collect any sale or racetrack earnings and her to retain incentive awards from the Breeding and Development Fund.
Fiorito told the Paulick Report she has collected and paid taxes on the state incentive awards earned through the agreement, adding that all seven foals she's bred have won races.
In 2013, Fiorito said she planned to breed her mare, Jumpin Jacqueline, to New York stallion Bustin Stones but changed plans because it would be too late in the breeding season. Fiorito said Cook agreed to supply his mare, Sweet Aloha, if Fiorito supplied the season she had acquired in Bustin Stones.
Filibustin, the resulting foal, a filly born in 2014, won her first three starts of 2016: a Monmouth Park maiden claiming race, the Joseph A. Gimma Stakes at Belmont Park and the Key Cents Stakes at Aqueduct – the latter two races for New York foaled runners.
“I haven't stolen a piece of bubble gum in my life,” Fiorito told the Paulick Report. “This is a smear campaign. It's vicious.”
Fiorito said both The Jockey Club and the Fund “have been professional and tactful. I'm just sorry for what everybody is being put through.”
The Jockey Club issued the following statement on the matter: “Alan R. Cook filed a complaint in Supreme Court, New York County, on Sunday. He named three defendants, (1) Jacquie Dalton Fiorito, (2) New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund Corporation; and (3) The Jockey Club. The Development Fund was established by New York State statute and operates under New York State Rules and Regulations.
“Mr. Cook's complaint is about whether he or Ms. Dalton Fiorito is entitled to New York State breeder incentive awards payable by the Development Fund. Only the Development Fund has the power to resolve their dispute by interpreting and applying its own rules and interpreting its own definitions following its own established procedures.
“The Development Fund's rules specify who is entitled to receive those awards and provide the processes, standards, and definitions to do so. They do not refer to the Jockey Club or the Jockey Club's own rules, which are entirely separate from the Development Funds rules and are designed for The Jockey Club to carry out its role as the Thoroughbred registry, not granting New York State incentive awards.
“In fact, Mr. Cook's complaint says that the key question in deciding who is entitled to the Development Fund incentive awards is the definition of ‘breeder.' He quotes the different definitions of that word in the Development Fund's rule and The Jockey Club's rule. The Development Fund's definition and process is what decides who gets the money, not The Jockey Club's.
“The dispute Mr. Cook is asking the court to resolve belongs before the Development Fund and is not for a court at this stage. In addition, it is improper for Mr. Cook to draw The Jockey Club into his dispute with Ms. Fiorito and the Development Fund. The Jockey Club will review its legal options and take steps consistent with these facts, the law, and its interests.”
CORRECTION: An early version of this article erroneously stated The Jockey Club was being sued for $100,000.
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