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Brother of embattled Brooks fights to race horses

The brother of David Brooks is staging legal battles in Canada and the United States for the right to race the horses his brother formerly ran on harness tracks in both countries.

Jeffrey Brooks maintains his brother transferred ownership of some 800 horses to him, David's former wife, Terry, and David's children, Victoria and Andrew, in 2007 when he was indicted on charges of looting his then Westbury-based company, DHB Industries.

David Brooks was a major figure in harness racing in both the United States and Canada, and his stable of horses was among the largest in the sport.

But in January the Ontario Racing Commission suspended the licenses of Brooks' relatives to race horses in that province, saying it was acting "to ensure public confidence in the honesty and integrity of the industry."

The commission wants to see whether the transfer of ownership was valid and whether David Brooks still quietly controls the horse-racing empire, according to sources familiar with the situation.

U.S. racing officials quickly followed Canada's move, barring the horses from racing in major localities here under a reciprocal understanding between racing authorities in the two countries.

Among the organizations barring the horses were the United States Trotting Association and New York State Racing and Waging Board, according to Jeffrey Brooks' attorneys.Robert Cohen, a Canadian attorney representing Jeffrey Brooks, said Friday it was "unfair" for the Ontario authorities to take "the precipitous step" of barring Brooks' relatives without a hearing, although the racing commission had the power to do so.

Rod McKinney, deputy director of the Ontario commission, said Friday the commission was working on a date to hold such a hearing.

In a related action in federal court in Manhattan, Jeffrey Brooks filed suit seeking millions of dollars in damages from the U.S. Trotting Association and three members of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.

Another of Jeffrey Brooks' attorneys, Andrew Goodman of Manhattan, said racetracks in Yonkers and Monticello recently barred his client from entering horses as a result of the actions by New York State and trotting association officials.

Calling the action against his client "a classic case of guilt by association," Goodman said the suspension has come about only because of the charges against David Brooks.

Prosecutors at Brooks' criminal trial in Central Islip have said he subsidized his horse empire by illegally diverting millions of dollars from his body-armor business..

Don Bray, an attorney for the trotting association, said it will hold a hearing this month on the Brooks situation and the organization cannot stop him from racing horses in the United States if he can find a state willing to allow him to do so.

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