A Mercer County circuit court judge has ruled that Charles and Maria Borell have no claim to a herd of horses found ostensibly abandoned earlier this year in Kentucky.

In June the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) responded to a complaint about a herd of allegedly maltreated horses residing on a Mercer County farm. A joint investigation by the KDA and the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office revealed that the mostly Thoroughbred 43-horse herd met abandonment criteria. Of those, six horses were determined to need elevated care. Authorities placed he horses in rehabilitative care.

Authorities subsequently arrested Chuck Borell and charged him with 43 counts of second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty in connection with the horses’ abandonment. A separate warrant was issued for the arrest of Chuck Borell’s daughter Maria , who trained Runhappy to a 2015 Breeders’ Cup Sprint victory, on identical charges. She reportedly lives out of state and has not yet been arrested.

In August attorney Larry Catlett entered a not guilty plea on Chuck Borell’s behalf. However, in September the elder Borell pleaded guilty to nine counts of second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty under an Alford plea in which he admitted no wrongdoing but accepted that prosecutors had sufficient evidence to convict. The remaining 34 animal cruelty counts were dismissed.

In September attorneys for KDA and the Mercer