Owner of American Pharoah Disputes Claims He Owes $1.65 in Gambling Debts

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The Associated Press

The owner of the horse vying to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 asks that a federal judge dismiss a lawsuit that claims he owes $1.65 million in gambling debts.

Ahmed Zayat’s horse, American Pharoah has already won the first two legs of the Triple Crown—the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes—and now prepares for the last race on June 6, the Belmont Stakes.

But while American Pharoah enjoys great success on the track, its 53-year-old owner suffers trouble in the courts.

Howard Rubinsky of Florida filed federal breach of contract lawsuit against him last year. He says that he fronted Zayat over a million dollars for gambling bets placed at offshore casinos.

Zayat, though, unequivocally denies he owes Rubinsky a penny. “It’s a fraud. It’s a scam from A to Z,” Zayat said. “It’s total fiction. It’s a total lie.”

In fact, Zayat, an Egyptian beer magnate currently living in New Jersey, insists it is an attempt at blackmail by a known criminal. Rubinsky has a record of convictions for gambling offenses and money laundering according to Zayat’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

Rubinsky, 58, pleaded guilty in 2008 for being part of an illegal bookmaking operation with two brothers, Michael and Jeffrey Jelinsky. Zayat says that the Jelinsky brothers introduced him to Rubinsky.

Naturally, Rubinsky’s lawyers say that the lawsuit is perfectly correct and take umbrage at Zayat’s “defamatory charges.”

But while Zayat claims he never owed Rubinsky any money, Rubinsky notes that Zayat did give him a large check, money Rubinsky claims was a payment on the gambling debts.

Zayat readily admits giving the check, but insists that it wasn’t for any gambling debt.

“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 proclaimed in a statement.

Judge William Martini is considering Zayat’s motion.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com