Sales Integrity Task Force Report Draws Mixed Reviews
by Ryan Conley
Date Posted: 9/13/2007 6:47:55 PM
Last Updated: 9/13/2007 7:10:17 PM

Sales Integrity Task Force moderator Alex Waldrop.
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
State legislators hearing the second report by the Sales Integrity Task Force on transparency issues in the Kentucky equine auction industry expressed mixed opinions about the group’s progress during a public meeting held Sept. 13 in the Lexington Room at Keeneland Race Course.

Task force moderator Alex Waldrop of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association told a couple dozen members of the Kentucky legislature that progress was being made in reaching industry consensus on ownership and disclosure issues that have clouded the perception of integrity in the sales market.

The 36-member task force, which comprises individuals connected to both the buying and selling sides of the industry, including breeds other than Thoroughbreds, was in February given charge of evaluating proposed Kentucky legislation that sought to establish standards on ownership and medical disclosures for sale horses.

Waldrop told an assembled crowd of about 100 people attending a meeting of the legislature’s Interim Joint Committee on Licensing and Occupations that while the task force has worked hard, it has work to do.

“I am convinced that the task force members are fiercely determined to do what is best for this industry as a whole,” he said. “It’s my expectation that we will reach consensus on specific, enforceable changes to the way in which horse sales are conducted in Kentucky, and even nationally.”

No specific initiatives were shared in either the accompanying written report or vocally by Waldrop.

Republican state senator Damon Thayer, who has been heavily involved in horse industry endeavors through the years and remains a consultant to Breeders’ Cup Ltd., said during the meeting he was encouraged by the progress of the task force.

“I continue to believe that no further legislation is necessary on the sales integrity issue,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence that the collective horse industry can come together and enact policies of self-regulation and self-policing enacted by the sales companies.”

But Democratic representative Joni Jenkins, who co-sponsored the original legislation championed by horse owner Jess Jackson, said she wasn’t sure “self-policing” was the answer.

“I am not real satisfied with that option,” she said in an interview after the meeting. “But I am willing to wait until they come up with their conclusions before I do anything.”

The task force has until the end of the year to formally present its suggestions to the legislature. Waldrop said he hoped to have final recommendations assembled at the Sept. 26 full meeting of the task force, and then present them in one or more public forums.

Kevin McGee, a corporate attorney for Jackson, said in an interview at the meeting that the owner’s camp was still withholding judgment on the task force’s efforts.

“Fasig-Tipton and Keeneland in particular have shown exemplary leadership, and the efforts that they have put forward are substantial in their sphere of influence,” he said. “The big question is whether or not (the task force recommendations are) going to be sufficient enough to address the issues in the legislature; and if they are voluntary, there is enough incentive for them to be effective.”


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