NewsCovering Kentucky


Animal welfare groups call for investigation into death of Versailles stallion, Laoban

Posted at 12:31 PM, Apr 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-19 18:25:15-04

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — Two national animal welfare groups are calling for an investigation after the stallion Laoban died at WinStar Farm in Versailles last year.

Courier-Journal reporter Tim Sullivan obtained insurance documents that said Laoban died just minutes after veterinarianDr. Heather Wharton gave him a "Black Shot", which is a cocktail of certain vitamins and minerals said to increase libido.

"Laoban had gone several days without successfully breeding," Sullivan said, citing the insurance document. "It was decided he needed a boost in energy."

Sullivan said the documents show three of four substances in that shot were expired and that one was nearly nine years past its expiration.

After readingSullivan's report, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Animal Wellness Action filed formal grievances this week with the Kentucky State Board of Veterinary Examiners to look into this claim.

LEX18 called KSBVE to ask about its process after receiving such a grievance.

They said when one is received, initial letters will go out to the complainant and respondent. This process could take a couple of weeks. The respondent then has 30 days to respond. When the Board receives a response, they will go over it in their next meeting. They meet once every two months. Their next meeting is scheduled for the end of May.

At the meeting, the Board will decide if an investigator needs to be assigned. If so, the investigation will begin.

KSBVE also said the board has legislative power given to them by the General Assembly to suspend or revoke a veterinarian's license or impose penalties or fines.

Irby said he understands the process may take time, but he hopes answers will come as soon as possible for the sake of other horses and breeders at WinStar.

"It's something that's very very important not only for the welfare of the horse but the owners of these horses whether it's a stallion or a mare that they know that they can take their horse and they're going to be well taken care of," Irby said.

LEX18 requested an in-person interview with the CEO of Winstar and was told he was out of town. Instead, they sent the following statement:

“Winstar has been in the thoroughbred business for over 20 years. Laoban’s passing was a traumatic experience and felt by everyone at the farm. As we stated at the time, insurance companies in general have a self serving interest in denying claims and blaming others. We resolved by mutual agreement any concerns that were brought to us and closed the chapter of this tragic loss a long time ago.”

According to Sullivan's report, "the North American Specialty Insurance Company denied mortality claims on the stallion."

LEX18 was not able to learn if Dr. Wharton still works at WinStar. We were unsuccessful with the numbers we have to reach her.

PETA has also asked the Woodford County Sheriff's Office to investigate, citing Kentucky's animal cruelty statute.