Chuck Borell, the central figure in the case involving 43 abandoned horses on a farm in Mercer County, Kentucky, was arrested by county sheriffs late Wednesday morning and charged on 43 counts of second-degree cruelty to animals when he showed up at the farm. The charges of abandonment were brought by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, since the violations are of a state law, and the enforcement is on the local level.
There is an outstanding warrant for the arrest of Maria Borell, Chuck Borell's daughter. Maria Borell, who trained Runhappy to win last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint, reportedly owns some of the horses or had been charged with their care by their owners.
No one else is expected to be charged in this case.
The violations are a Class A misdemeanor, according to Dr. Robert Stout of the office of the Kentucky State Veterinarian, and the maximum penalty is up to one year incarceration. No monetary damages are specified in the law, but could be levied at the discretion of the court. Chuck Borell, who had leased the farm in Mercer County, was the caregiver of the horses.
Six of the horses were moved off the farm on Tuesday. The other 37 horses remain on the property and are being provided care daily by a group of volunteers. A number of organizations have reached out to the state to offer to take in the horses and they will be finding new homes soon.
One outstanding issue to be resolved first, though, is the ownership of the horses, and the state and the local sheriff are working together to ascertain ownership.
Maria Borell, who was fired the day after the BC Sprint by Runhappy's owner, Jim McIngvale, has not been seen in the state lately. Some reports have her in New York.
The horses were abandoned at the farm in Mercer County, which is about 30 miles southwest of Lexington, Kentucky, in May, and the state has been monitoring the situation since June 3 when officials first became aware of the situation. Volunteers have been helping take care of the horses.
Rusty Ford, spokesperson for the office of the state veterinarian, said that the 43 horses were examined on Monday by a team of veterinarians were categorized as follows: three were severely underweight; 10 were underweight; 14 were of suitable weight; eight were overweight; and eight were of proper weight. None was in a life-threatening situation.
The six in the worst shape were sent to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation's facility at Blackburn Correctional Complex near Lexington.