NEW CUMBERLAND - The owners of a thoroughbred horse are suing Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort Stewards after they claim it and four individuals have refused to return their horse.

Blue Spruce Farm Inc., Harry Joe Painter and Alison Kate Painter have had a periodic business relationship with Donald E. Blankenship and Donald T. Blankenship, in which Donald E. Blankenship negotiated arrangements from time to time where he would take thoroughbred horses belonging to the plaintiffs to Mountaineer Park for training and racing under Donald T. Blankenship's name as trainer, according to a complaint filed June 5 in Hancock Circuit Court.

The plaintiffs claim they entered into an agreement in August 2010 for two thoroughbred horses named Devon Fantasie and Knight Attack.

The Blankenships determined that Devon Fantasie would not be profitable as a racehorse and returned her to Blue Spruce Farm without entering her in any races at Mountaineer Park, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs claim the Blankenships raced Knight Attack on several occasions from August 2010 until December 2010, the race earnings for Knight Attack was apportioned and the horse was later returned to Blue Spruce Farm in accordance with the parties' agreement.

"The plaintiffs entered into the same agreement again with the Blankenships for thoroughbred horses named Green Tay and Blue Sky Sunrise in the fall of 2010," the complaint states. "The Blankenships raced both Green Tay and Blue Sky Sunrise while those horses were training with them at Mountaineer Park, and again the race earnings were apportioned and the horses were thereafter returned to Blue Spruce Farm in accordance with the parties' agreement."

While the agreement for Devon Fantasie and Knight Attack was reduced to writing, the agreement for Green Tay and Blue Sky Sunrise was an oral agreement, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs claim during October 2012, Donald E. Blankenship came to the farm with other defendants, including Jeanie Anthony, and, pursuant to the October 2012 meeting, the defendants arranged for Cousin Craig and Shamelessly Rich to be transferred to Mountaineer Park.

Cousin Craig remained in training with the Blankenships throughout the remainder of 2012 and into 2013 and on Feb. 25, 2012, Donald E. Blankenship asked the plaintiffs to file an application to the West Virginia Thoroughbred Breeders Association to register Cousin Craig as an accredited West Virginia Bred and Sired Thoroughbred, so that Cousin Craig would be eligible to enter into races restricted to accredited West Virginia Bred Horses, according to the suit, which Alison Kate Painter promptly submitted.

Blue Spruce Farm paid the fee for registering Cousin Craig and, during March 2013, the plaintiffs say they became aware that Cousin Craig was being entered to run in races with Anthony listed as Cousin Craig's owner. Harry Joe Painter immediately contacted Donald E. Blankenship, who responded by stating that a mistake had been made and that he would straighten it out, the complaint says.

"When Cousin Craig continued to be entered in races with ... Anthony listed as the owner and the plaintiffs were not receiving their portion of the race earnings generated by Cousin Craig, Harry Joe Painter made repeated inquires with Donald E. Blankenship," the complaint states.

The plaintiffs claim after repeated conversations between the plaintiffs and Donald E. Blankenship, Harry Joe Painter telephoned the Racing Secretary's Office and the Stewards of Mountaineer Park and expressed concern that his horse was being entered in races with another person listed as the owner, but he never received a substantive response to his inquiries.

In a later conversation, Donald E. Blankenship stated that due to his cash flow problems, he had entered into a side deal with Anthony and others whereby he would share part of his 60 percent of the race earnings with Anthony in return for her paying part of the maintenance costs for Cousin Craig, according to the suit.

"On June 11, 2013, Donald E. Blankenship ultimately told Mr. Painter he had possession of Cousin Craig's foal certificate, that Cousin Craig was not his and that plaintiffs 'didn't have a leg to stand on' in regard to ownership of Cousin Craig," the complaint states. "He also stated that the Anthonys had removed the foal certificate from the Racing Secretary's Office at Mountaineer Park in order to bring it to their attorney."

The plaintiffs claim they never executed the foal certificate for Cousin Craig to transfer ownership to anyone and they never intended and never acted to transfer their ownership of Cousin Craig to anyone.

Joe Narcavish, the racing secretary of Mountaineer Park, violated the rules of racing by allowing anyone other than the Painters to remove the foal certificate  from the racing secretary's office, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs have suffered significant and irreparable harm and will not be satisfactorily compensated monetarily due to the defendants' action, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are being represented by Lawrence L. Manypenny of Manypenny & Carey Law Office.

Hancock Circuit Court case number: 14-C-81

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