Mr. Vandevender was the Huntsman for the Farmington Hunt Club, which at one time adjoined the Foxfield Property, and was a devoted friend of Mrs. Tejeda.
Mr. Vandevender raised orphaned foxes on the property and trained them to come when he blew his horn. Luminaries from Virginia and around the country rode on the property during Mr. Vandevender’s tenure. In the late 1950s, William Faulkner, then author-in-residence at the University of Virginia, struck up a friendship with Mr. Vandevender and joined him in rides on the property.
Mrs. Tejeda, who had purchased the Foxfield Property for use in equestrian pursuits in Mr. Vandevender’s memory, founded Foxfield Racing in 1977, and served as its first president. Mrs. Tejeda and Foxfield Racing established the races to promote the sport of steeplechasing and equestrian activities in Albemarle County. Also in 1977, Mrs. Tejeda, in collaboration with Raymond G. Wolfe, author of a well-known book on the famous racehorse, Secretariat, designed and built the steeplechase courses on the Foxfield Property. The Foxfield Races began in 1978 and have continued to this day, with races being run twice a year – once in the spring and once in the fall.
Because she felt that the sponsors, racers and spectators have a commitment to helping others, Mrs. Tejeda founded the Foxfield races as a charity event, with profits from the race being sent to a charity each year. Mrs. Tejeda remained associated with Foxfield Racing and the Foxfield Races until the end of her life. As she related in her Will, Ms. Tejeda viewed “the races and the people associated with them [as] . . . the love of my life.”
In her Will, Mrs. Tejeda stated:
I have but one wish for the remainder of my lifetime and after my death, and that is to apply all my time, energies and financial resources to the perpetuation of the Foxfield Races in Albemarle County for the recreation, education and enjoyment of the people of Albemarle County and their friends and visitors and of Virginia who appreciate the equestrian sports, competition, and related activities. . . . It is for the perpetuation of the Foxfield Races in Albemarle County that I wish to dedicate whatever estate I may leave at my death for the continued perpetuation of the Foxfield Races and all of the related activities on its property.Emphasis added.)
As further evidence of Mrs. Tejeda’s intention that the Foxfield Property be used in perpetuity for the Foxfield Races, the funeral provisions of the Will provide as follows:
I direct my Executors to have me interned [sic] on the lands of Foxfield at a place I designate before death and to erect at their discretion a simple memorial bearing my name, that I was a Virginian and the owner and promoter of Foxfield, and also bearing my date of birth.(Emphasis added.)
In order to carry out her testamentary gift, Mrs. Tejeda left to Foxfield Racing the Foxfield Property, as well as vehicles, equipment, tools and supplies, plus the sum of $200,000.00 to provide for maintenance and upkeep. Id. at 2-4.
At the time Mrs. Tejeda executed the Will on May 23, 1983, she was the President of Foxfield Racing and one of three directors of the organization. Benjamin Dick was Vice-President of Foxfield Racing and a director. John H. Nelson (“Nelson”) was Secretary-Treasurer of Foxfield Racing and a director. Pursuant to the Will, Benjamin Dick became one of the Co-executors of Mrs. Tejeda’s estate following her death on December 26, 1983. Nelson was the other Co-executor. At the time of her death, Mrs. Tejeda was the President of Foxfield Racing and one of three directors of the organization. Benjamin Dick was Vice-President of Foxfield Racing and a director. Nelson was Secretary-Treasurer of Foxfield Racing and a director.
By deed dated May 7, 1987 (Exhibit A), Benjamin Dick and Nelson, acting as Co-executors, conveyed the Foxfield Property to Foxfield Racing. At the time of execution of the deed, Benjamin Dick was the President and a director Foxfield Racing. Nelson was Vice-President and Treasurer of the organization as well as a director. The deed is recorded in the Albemarle County Clerk’s Office.
By accepting the bequest from Mrs. Tejeda’s Will, Foxfield Racing became a trustee by operation of law, with the Foxfield Property and proceeds derived from the use thereof being the res of the trust and subject to the conditions the Will placed on the land. See Va. Code § 64.2-719(A)(1) (“A trust may be created by . . . [t]ransfer of property to another person as trustee . . . by will or other disposition taking effect upon the settlor’s death.”).
Under the Will, the beneficiaries of the trust are the “people of Albemarle County and their friends and visitors and of Virginia who appreciate the equestrian sports, competition, and related activities,” and the Foxfield Property is held in trust for “the continued perpetuation of the Foxfield Races and all of the related activities on its property.”
As of January 2015, Benjamin Dick was the sole director of Foxfield Racing, and he then appointed his brother, Defendant Thomas Dick, to be Vice President as well as a director of that entity. After Benjamin Dick’s death, in August 2015, Thomas Dick, being then the sole director, appointed himself President and CEO of Foxfield Racing.
The Plaintiffs in the lawsuit have learned that Defendants have attempted to sell the Foxfield Property and/or have plans to list the Foxfield Property for sale. In making their decision to sell the Foxfield Property or any portion thereof, Defendants failed to consider other courses of action that could ensure the ongoing operation of the Foxfield Races consistent with the terms of the trust established by Mrs. Tejeda through the Will. The sale of the Foxfield Property or any portion thereof would irreparably harm the Plaintiffs and other beneficiaries of the trust created by Mrs. Tejeda through the Will.
About the group fighting to Save Foxfield
The Plaintiffs in this case are concerned citizens and owners of land near the Foxfield Property who have attended the Foxfield Races, and participated in equestrian activities on the Foxfield Property, for many years. As such, the Plaintiffs are beneficiaries of the testamentary trust created by Mrs. Tejeda through the Will pursuant to which the Foxfield Property was conveyed in trust to Foxfield Racing. The Plaintiffs represent some of the many persons in Charlottesville, Albemarle County and across the Commonwealth of Virginia interested in saving the Foxfield Races.
- John H. Birdsall has lived since 1987 at Schelford Farm (his wife’s home since 1950) which fronts on Garth Road, one mile west of Foxfield. When he moved to that home in 1987, Birdsall joined what was then an “Advisory Board” for Foxfield Racing, at the request of then-President of Foxfield Racing, J. Benjamin Dick (“Benjamin Dick”). The Advisory Board was disbanded after Board members became frustrated with the lack of transparency in Foxfield Racing finances, as well as Benjamin Dick’s refusal to consider the Board’s advice regarding property maintenance. Mr. Birdsall has run in the Foxfield Races and has volunteered at the races in various capacities, including as an “outrider.”
- Harry Burn lived for many years at Darby’s Folly, a farm located in Albemarle County across Garth Road from the Foxfield Property. He now visits Darby’s Folly, which is still owned by the Burn family, on a regular basis. Over the years, Harry Burn has frequently participated in and attended equestrian sports in Albemarle County, including attending the Foxfield Races. Burn has also participated in the Farmington Beagles, a group regularly using the Foxfield Property for beagling, one of the “related activities” contemplated by the Will. He plans to continue attending the Foxfield Races on a regular basis.
- Reynolds Cowles has been involved with steeplechase racing for over 40 years as a veterinarian, horse owner, and race official. He serves on the Board of Directors of the National Steeplechase Association (“NSA”) and is a former board member of the National Steeplechase Foundation. Cowles currently serves as the chair of the NSA Safety Committee. He is also on the Board of the Montpelier Race Foundation and in the past has served on the advisory board of Foxfield. Cowles served six years as President of the Farmington Hunt Club, which has strong ties to Foxfield, and he is the president-elect of the American Association of Equine Practitioners and the founder of Blue Ridge Equine Clinic in Earlysville.
- Landon and Kiwi Hilliard grew up in Virginia and, since 2010, have resided in Albemarle County on Garth Lane, adjacent to the Foxfield Property. Mrs. Hilliard frequently rides horses in the fields surrounding her home, and the Hilliards have frequently attended the Foxfield Races and plan to continue doing so.
- John G. Macfarlane, III and Dudley Macfarlane reside in Albemarle County. Since 2003, they have owned Mount Fair, an historic Brown family home, where they conduct equestrian training and breeding operations. Mrs. Macfarlane is an active equestrian in the Amateur Owner Hunter Division, competing in shows throughout the East Coast. She and her gelding, Roland Park, finished the 2016 season as number four in the nation. Mrs. Macfarlane is also a member of the Farmington Hunt Club. The Macfarlanes have been Patron Sponsors of the Foxfield Races since 2008 and, in most years, have hosted as many as 50 guests for race weekends.
- Jack Sanford, Jr. has been involved in steeplechase racing since the early 1980s when he and his wife reopened and began operating the racing stable, Ingleside, which is located on Garth Road not far from the Foxfield Property. During that time, Sanford successfully raced horses in the Foxfield Races. In 1984, Sanford was recruited to help maintain the operations and running of the Montpelier Races, and served on the board there for twenty-one years. Sanford later became a board member of the National Steeplechase Association and a licensed Steward serving race meetings around the country. Sanford continues to maintain a Steward position today. At the request of Benjamin Dick, Sanford also served as an advisor to Foxfield Racing in the late 1980’s, but later resigned after Benjamin Dick (although stating his intent to continue the operations of Foxfield per his charge under Will of Mrs. Tejada), was unwilling to share the financial position of the organization.