Amer­i­can Pharoah’s owner slams trainer’s law­suit

The Citizen (KZN) - - Racing Express -

Owner Ahmed Zayat has is­sued a state­ment call­ing a law­suit filed on be­half of trainer Mike Maker "ab­surd" and "out­ra­geous".

The com­plaint filed by Maker's at­tor­neys on Thurs­day sues Zayat for breach of con­tract and fraud and seeks dam­ages in­clud­ing more than $120,000 the trainer says the prom­i­nent owner and breeder owes his op­er­a­tion.

Zayat is also be­ing sued in a sep­a­rate case filed by MGG Group, a New York-based in­vest­ment firm seek­ing at least $23 mil­lion in dam­ages.

MGG claims that Zayat Sta­bles de­faulted on a loan from MGG and has sold as­sets, in­clud­ing breed­ing rights to 2015 Triple Crown win­ner Amer­i­can Pharoah that were be­ing held as col­lat­eral against the loan, and that the re­ceiver­ship was nec­es­sary to pro­tect its in­ter­ests in the Zayat hold­ings.

Maker's law­suit states that Zayat de­faulted on a set­tle­ment agree­ment made in Septem­ber 2019 to ad­dress over­due bills and claims the de­fen­dant "knew that its fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion was un­ten­able and that Zayat Sta­bles was in fact in­sol­vent and un­able to pay its cred­i­tors, in­clud­ing Maker . . . De­fen­dants had no in­ten­tion of hon­our­ing the set­tle­ment agree­ment, as the de­fen­dants had al­ready no­ti­fied other cred­i­tors of their in­sol­vent sta­tus and, ac­cord­ing to pub­lished re­ports, be­gun to liq­ui­date as­sets with­out no­ti­fy­ing cred­i­tors."

In a state­ment re­leased on Satur­day by Zayat's le­gal coun­sel, the owner re­futes the claims.

"This law­suit from Mike Maker is ab­surd," the state­ment read. "Ahmed Zayat made all pay­ments re­quired un­der his prior set­tle­ment with Mr Maker un­til MGG seized con­trol of Zayat Sta­bles' bank ac­count last month.

“It is out­ra­geous for Mr Maker to cry foul given that he agreed to the terms of the work­out, which Mr Zayat has fully hon­oured in an ef­fort to keep his busi­ness afloat and re­pay each of his cred­i­tors. To sug­gest he's done any­thing less, and ac­cuse Mr Zayat of fraud, is scur­rilous and defam­a­tory.

"Mr Zayat fully ex­pects this law­suit will be dis­missed and in­tends to seek ap­pro­pri­ate sanc­tions against Mr Maker for pur­su­ing this ma­li­cious ac­tion."

Maker dis­missed Zayat's com­ments, say­ing the owner had not paid him for what he was owed, nor kept him abreast of when to ex­pect pay­ment. Maker also said his most re­cent pay­ment from Zayat Sta­bles was due on 15 Jan­uary, be­fore Zayat Sta­bles was placed into re­ceiver­ship.

"If he is so hon­ourable, why didn't he call his cred­i­tors?" Maker said. "Say, 'Be­cause of this re­ceiver­ship, we have no more (funds) com­ing out'. That would have been the hon­ourable thing to do. Say, 'Hey, I'm sorry', in­stead of not con­tact­ing some­one." – Racing­

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