The Sam Thompson Memorial Foundation
Sam Thompson Foundation Sponsor – MJ Farms
Mac and Janis Spencer Murray have been breeding and racing top Quarter Horses for many years. They moved their program to New Mexico from Utah in time for the 2000 breeding season. Some of the most notable race horses bred by their program are:
- Kendall Jackson, 2-time World record setting winner of $409,244
- Alice K White, 2009 AQHA Champion 3 year old filly
- Astica, 2015 AQHA Champion 3 year old filly
- Wild Six, multiple Graded Stakes winner of $601,623
- Junior June Bug, multiple Graded Stakes winner of $288,878
- Sandys Jesse, Graded Stakes winner of $229,709.
The breeding farm provides some of the best stallions in the country to breed to, including multiple year Leading NM bred sire Jesse James Jr, Woodbridge, a World record sire, and the new up and coming sire, Big Daddy Cartel. The farm provides embryo transfer services to clients breeding to the on location stallions.
The Sam Thompson Memorial Foundation Sam Thompson Foundation Sponsor – MJ Farms MJ Farms Mac and Janis Spencer Murray have been breeding and racing top Quarter Horses for many years. They
Fast Money Breeds Lawsuit
By Scott Sandlin / Journal Staff Writer
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In his lifetime, nationally acclaimed quarterhorse Dash Ta Fame was known for his fabulous temperament and speed.
Seven months after his death last July at age 22, his legacy is carried on by the 2,204 foals he sired — and a legal tug-of-war over the division of his sperm and income from his breeding fees.
Among his offspring who started on the track, more than 600 came back winners, earning a combined total of almost $17 million racing, according to the horse’s obituary on the American Quarter Horse Association website.
And Dash Ta Fame made millions of dollars for his owners through breeding fees and sales of his sperm. The horse’s breeding fee for 2009 was $6,500.
But a New Mexico couple who purchased 10 percent interest in the horse claims they are owed over $1 million because the horse was taken from their possession.
Both sides claim violations of the New Mexico Unfair Practices Act, as well as negligent misrepresentation by the other and related wrongdoing.
A jury began deliberating late Friday, after the judge apologized for taking so long with the verdict form and instructions.
“I’ve been doing this 17 years,” U.S. District Judge William P. “Chip” Johnson said, “and this is one of the most complicated (cases) I’ve ever had to deal with.”
The jury’s answer could have been worth millions of dollars. But after more than five hours of deliberation, the jury of three men and five women unanimously agreed Saturday afternoon that neither side had proved what it was accusing the other of doing. It answered “no” to all the questions in the special verdict form.
But the case isn’t entirely over.
Still remaining are equitable claims related to the accounting and distribution of frozen semen at three different locations. Those will be decided by Johnson.
Saga starts in 1997
Dr. Janis Spencer Murray, a New Mexico veterinarian and owner with her husband, Mac, of MJ Farms, a breeding operation in Veguita, N.M., bought a 10 percent interest in Dash Ta Fame in 1997 from Bob Burt, a breeder in Sandy, Utah, and 90 percent owner of the horse.
The Murrays sued Burt and his wife in 2009 in federal court, claiming damages from Burt’s “decision to disavow the (Murrays’) interest” and removal of the horse from their care, custody and possession.
In closing arguments late Friday, the Murrays’ attorney, John J. Kelly, suggested damages of at least $1.4 million to his clients, while Burt’s lawyer, Stevan Looney, said the Murrays are owed nothing and it is Burt who should be compensated for the frozen semen the Murrays kept that he didn’t know about until years after they’d begun collecting it.
Burt testified that he learned the Murrays were “harvesting semen behind my back” without his permission when he got a call from some irate purchasers. But he didn’t contact the Murrays, and instead “waited for a call … that never came.” Eventually, there was a face-to-face discussion in which Burt said he wanted the collection to stop, and the Murrays agreed.
Dash Ta Fame’s legacy will continue when the court sorts out the remaining frozen sperm. Some of it is at the Murrays’ farm, some is in Texas and some is in California. A portion of the available semen has an equine virus breeders want nothing to do with, but vets say it can be used in some circumstances, such as with mares who’ve been inoculated for the virus.
Trial testimony indicated growing international markets for frozen semen in Brazil, Italy and possibly Australia.
Right to live in N.M.?
The critical issues for the plaintiffs were whether Murray was cheated out of her right to have the horse “stand” or live at her Socorro County farm during breeding season for the rest of his life, and whether Burt failed to disclose that there was a co-owner when he moved the horse to a California vet after the 2009 breeding season and then not return him in 2010 or 2011.
For the defense, the answer was a simple “no” to the matter of the right to have the horse stand in New Mexico, and there is a counterclaim against the Murrays by Burt and his wife.
The claims were governed by both Utah and New Mexico state laws, even though the case was in federal court because the parties live in different states, and the amount in controversy met the jurisdictional requirements.
Kelly told the jury in closing that at issue are the terms of two contracts — one the 1997 buy-in on Dash Ta Fame, and secondly 15 years of annual breeding contracts between Murray and Burt that they had begun four years before Murray bought an interest in the horse.
The requirement of “standing” the stallion at the Murrays’ farm is not in writing, Kelly said, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t valid.
“You’ve got to decide from the testimony based on the credibility of the witnesses,” he said.
The picture painted by plaintiffs was that Burt had a need for money to pay the U.S. government in 1997 but insisted on cash and wanted no trace of it. Murray paid $40,000 in cash with the understanding that the horse would “stand” at MJ Farms, according to the plaintiffs.
“At the time this was done, Burt made a promise the horse could stay there,” Kelly told the jury.
Looney said Burt had made no such promise.
“There’s not a single document that says Dash Ta Fame could stand with Janis Murray for the rest of his life,” he said.
The California vet to whose care the horse was moved in 2010 had dealt with the Murrays involving frozen semen, and they had never mentioned being part owners, he said.
“This case really comes down to credibility,” Looney said. “Who do you believe? Given the witnesses … I think there’s only one answer.”
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In his lifetime, nationally acclaimed quarterhorse Dash Ta Fame was known for his fabulous temperame …