LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Lawyer Ron was sold Thursday but will race in the Kentucky Derby and thereafter in the blue and white silks of his late owner.
The executor of the late owner's estate said the horse sold for considerably more than the last Derby contender to be bought in the days before the race. War Emblem sold for $900,000 less than four weeks before winning the 2002 Derby.
Ron Bamberger, the executor and lawyer for whom the horse was named, said a partial interest in Lawyer Ron was sold to Our Legal Team LLC and Stonewall Stallions LLC based in Versailles. Both entities are owned by Audrey Haisfield.
Jim Hines Jr., the former owner, died nearly three months ago in Owensboro in what was ruled an accidental drowning.
Lawyer Ron, one of the favorites for the first leg of the Triple Crown, is the first Derby entry to come out of Hines Farm, which has about 70 horses in western Kentucky.
"It was a simple aspect of taking chips off the table," Bamberger said. "I did not do what Jim Hines would have done. Jim Hines would never, ever have sold one small percentage of this horse."
Lawyer Ron will continue to be trained by Bob Holthus and ridden by John McKee. When the colt retires, he will go to stud at Stonewall.
"It's unbelievable," said Bert Welker, general manager at Stonewall. "We've been in negotiation with them. We didn't know if we'd be able to close before the Derby."
Laine Nunn, the oldest of Hines' six children, said while the family has grown attached to the horse since Hines' death, it was better to put the future of the horse in more experienced hands. The family eventually plans to dissolve Hines Farm.
"It's sad in a way, but the reality is the best thing for us and the best thing for the horse is to have the horse professionals take over," Nunn said. "We'd have loved to be a part of the breeding part of it, but we're new to the game. Dad was the brains of the horse business."
Lawyer Ron will start from the No. 17 post in the Derby. He has won six straight races on dirt, including the Arkansas Derby last month.
Bamberger said the deal was timed to maximize the horse's value.
"An asset like this is worth so much," he said. "To risk it is not the proper thing to do."