Mack Backs TOC Call for Reform
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Earle I. Mack
Earle I. Mack, who led the push for pending auction reform legislation in Florida, has come out in support of a strong policy statement recently released by the Thoroughbred Owners of California regarding horse sales.

Mack, who successfully lobbied for legislation that orders the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) to develop rules regulating horse sales in the state, said the TOC letter “is an example of growing buyer dissatisfaction with non-disclosure and lack of transparency at horse sales.”

"Full disclosure and transparency in sales is something every industry is moving to adopt and we in the Thoroughbred industry need to be proactive in bringing it about as soon as possible,” Mack said in a Jan. 23 news release. “Soon the new rules and regulations in Florida will go into effect and it has always been my hope the new law will be a template for other states.”

Mack’s statements come just days before proposed rules drafted by the FDACS will be published for comment in the Florida Administrative Weekly, a government publication which is the filing point for rules promulgated by state regulatory agencies. Challenges to the rules can be submitted within a 21-day period following the Jan. 25 publication, after which hearings will be scheduled.

In a recent letter addressed to Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association president Daniel Metzger and copied to leaders of prominent auction companies, the TOC declared the 2007 recommendations of self-regulation released by the national Sales Integrity Task Force did not go far enough.

“While the TOC board of directors applauds (the task force's) collective effort, it felt that the final recommendations fell short of what was needed to sufficiently correct questionable sales practices, and to protect the integrity of auction sales transactions from the buyer's point of view,” said the letter signed by TOC chairman Marsha Naify.

Mack noted that in California there is a “structural distinction between organizations representing racehorse owners and breeders.”

“On many issues, both owners and breeders are of one mind, and with such issues the TOBA plays a critical role in our industry,” he said in the release. “When it comes to horse sales however, the simple distinction in many cases is racehorse owners are buyers and breeders are sellers.

“It isn't that one side is right and the other side is wrong, we just need to recognize that in this context the two groups may have differing interests."

Like the TOC, Mack asked for stronger testing standards in regards to steroids, but suggested random testing be added to the sale companies policies.

"Random testing of auction horses for steroids and performance-enhancing substances by the sales companies would help to insure buyer confidence,” he said. “The random tests, combined with the option of a buyer paying for the tests, would go a long way to stopping this deceptive practice."

In a recent interview with The Blood-Horse, Metzger said the task force recommendations will “ensure the industry keeps a vibrant marketplace with a high level of integrity.”

“It’s a very complex issue, and we’ve been very transparent,” he said.

Metzger said TOBA and the task force weren’t contacted prior to the TOC statement. He said the task force “would be happy to share” its perspective with the TOC.

(The Blood-Horse news editor Tom LaMarra contributed to this article)

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