Judge Dismisses Suit In Case Of Horse With Genetic Abnormality - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Judge Dismisses Suit In Case Of Horse With Genetic Abnormality

Kept True wins the Broadway Stakes

A Fayette County Circuit Court judge has dismissed a civil lawsuit against veterinarians and a stable owner surrounding the sale of a horse with a genetic abnormality.

Crawford Farms had brought suit against Treadway Racing Stable, Hidden Brook, Keeneland, Dr. Karen Wolfsdorf, and Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in summer 2021 after it purchased a horse named Kept True for $150,000 from the 2021 Keeneland January Sale.

Kept True, registered as a daughter of Yes It's True and the Henny Hughes mare Well Kept, was a homebred for Jeff Treadway's Treadway Racing Stable and ran for three seasons in New York. Kept True won the Broadway Stakes and placed in the La Verdad Stakes. When Kept True retired, the horse was entered into the 2021 Keeneland January sale as a racing/broodmare prospect, where Crawford Farm bought Kept True from the Hidden Brook consignment for $150,000.

After the purchase of Kept True, Crawford said in its complaint that it removed the horse from the Keeneland grounds and had veterinarian Dr. Jeremy Whitman do an exam of the horse. The complaint indicated Whitman observed “obvious abnormalities” during palpation of Kept True, including that he could not find the horse's ovaries. After a genetic test, veterinarians discovered that Kept True was genetically XY, meaning that although the horse appears outwardly to be female, the horse is genetically male and does not have normal reproductive anatomy internally.

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In its complaint, Crawford indicated Kept True had a certificate of breeding soundness on file with Keeneland at the time of the auction, which was signed by Wolfsdorf. According to Crawford, that certificate indicated the horse was a mare who was anatomically correct and suitable for mating.

Last week, Crawford filed a motion requesting Judge Kimberly Bunnell dismiss the case, which was signed on March 10.

In a deposition given in September 2022, Whitman clarified the timeline of his observations. He said he examined Kept True in the days after the horse's purchase and observed it to be “transitional,” a term that refers to a mare's transitions into normal heat cycles. Mares are seasonally diestrus, which means they only ovulate during part of the year. Further, Whitman said racing-fit mares often don't cycle normally. Mares in both situations often have small ovaries, and this is what Whitman believed he had encountered when he first examined Kept True, who had just come off the track. At that time, Whitman said he found no significant abnormalities and would have written a certificate of breeding soundness the same way Wolfsdorf had done.

Later, after the horse had been under lights to encourage regular cycling, Whitman conducted another exam on Kept True. The horse had been responding inconsistently to being teased. This time, Whitman said the ovaries felt flat on palpation rather than spherical, which didn't make sense under the circumstances. He ordered a genetic test March 1 and uncovered the chromosome abnormality when the results came back.

Keeneland had been named as a party to the original lawsuit but was dropped from the case because its conditions of sale make clear the need to examine horses in situations like this one within 24 hours of sale and before their removal from the grounds. Whitman said he encourages his clients to contract him to perform those exams at the grounds, should a finding necessitate a return.

“Dr. Wolfsdorf is pleased the Plaintiffs have come to the proper decision to dismiss the lawsuit,” said Wolfsdorf in a statement. “Due to recent publications, it is important to note that no settlement was paid. The case was dismissed because the Plaintiff's own veterinarian, Dr. Jeremy Whitman, confirmed that Dr. Wolfsdorf's examination and findings were consistent with the standard of care and met the Keeneland condition of sale. Dr. Wolfsdorf hopes that this unfortunate situation will prompt the review of the wording and implications of the conditions of sale so no other veterinarian will be scrutinized incorrectly.”

According to reporting last year from The Blood-Horse, Kept True had been retired and was living in New York.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect details from Dr. Whitman's deposition, as well as a statement from Dr. Wolfsdorf about the dismissal of the case.

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