Lawyer Ron euthanized at age 6

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Lawyer Ron, the champion older male of 2007, has died at age 6 after complications from colic surgery.

The Stonewall Stallions resident was euthanized late Friday, according to an announcement issued Saturday afternoon by the farm. Lawyer Ron, named for Kentucky attorney Ron Bamberger, had undergone what Bamberger had termed "very minor surgery" in mid-May to correct a rupture in his abdominal sac. He returned to the clinic, Woodford Equine Hospital three weeks later, on June 10, as a precautionary measure after developing a slight fever.

Lawyer Ron, by Langfuhr, had been standing at Stonewall near Lexington, Ky., for a $25,000 fee. His first foals were born this year, and he will have a second crop born in 2010 from matings this year.

Lawyer Ron won the 2007 Whitney and Woodward Stakes and seven other stakes races in his racing career for earnings of $2,790,008. Bred by the late James T. Hines, Jr., he was out of the Lord Avie mare Donation.

Hines campaigned Lawyer Ron until his death by drowning on Feb. 21, 2006. Bamberger, Hines's longtime attorney, took up the colt's management as executor of the Hines estate as Lawyer Ron headed for the Kentucky Derby as one of the likely favorites. Stonewall purchased an 80 percent interest in the colt just days before the Derby. He finished 12th in the Derby.

The relationship between the farm and the estate has been rocky. In late 2006, Bamberger filed suit against Stonewall, contending that the Hines estate was legally entitled to control Lawyer Ron's racing career and that Stonewall owner Audrey Haisfield owed more than $50,000 in training and racing expenses. Haisfield counter-sued, saying Bamberger had breached his fiduciary responsibilities by keeping the colt in training instead of retiring him. A Kentucky court ruled in favor of Bamberger, and in 2007 the farm and the lawyer agreed on a joint dismissal.

In 2008 and again this year, Bamberger sued Stonewall, alleging the farm owed the estate payment for a pair of annual breeding seasons totaling $60,000 in 2008 and $50,000 this year. Bamberger dropped each suit upon receiving payment.

The stallion's death represents a blow for both parties. Bamberger had followed the horse's racing career and start at stud with great personal interest, and Lawyer Ron had Stonewall's highest stud fee this year after the farms' sale of Medaglia d'Oro, who stood for $60,000, to Darley in June.

"Not only was he a superior racehorse, but his physical presence and contagious personality captivated everyone that saw him," said Stonewall manager Clark Shepherd said of Lawyer Ron. "His first foals are tremendous. When breeders call in to report their Lawyer Ron foals being born, they all have a story to tell. This is obviously a huge loss for us, as well as for the racing and breeding community."