Pharoah’s owner Ahmed Zayat fighting lawsuit over alleged gambling debts

Pharoah's owner Ahmed Zayat fighting lawsuit over alleged gambling debts

Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah’s owner Ahmed Zayat is fighting a lawsuit that accuses him of owing $1.65 million to a man who says he fronted him money for gambling bets placed at offshore casinos.

The lawsuit was filed in March 2014 in U.S. District Court in Newark, New Jersey by Florida resident Howard Rubinsky, who says he and Zayat entered into a personal services contract in 2003, where he advanced Zayat a line of credit at several casinos.

Rubinsky said in the lawsuit that Zayat owed him upwards of $2 million in 2005, but some of the debt has been paid back.

Zayat says he is being blackmailed and wants the lawsuit dismissed because it was filed after the six-year statute of limitations and Rubinsky has not come up with a written contract between the two.

“It’s a fraud. It’s a scam from A to Z,” Zayat told The Associated Press. “It’s total fiction. It’s a total lie.”

According to the court motion, Zubinsky has past convictions of gambling offenses and money laundering.

The lawsuit said Zayat Stables ran into financial difficulty back in 2008 and Zayat continued to promise he would pay the outstanding debt.

Since then, Zabat Stables has filed for bankruptcy and Zayat was investigated for his ties to the running of an illegal gambling operation.

Rubinsky then met with Zayat to say he was sick and had been cheated by Jeffrey and Michael Jelinsky, the two were were involved in the gambling operation and needed money. He says Zayat gave him two checks totaling $50,000.

“I do not deny that I gave him that first check — I know that I was willing to help him and I may have given him two checks — but I can say unequivocally that I did not give Mr. Rubinsky any money as payment on any debt. I did not, and do not, owe Mr. Rubinsky any money. I agreed to give him money because he told me he was ill and broke,” Zayat said.

American Pharoah won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and will attempt to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 37 years at the 147th Belmont Stakes on June 6.