File Photo

Task Force Recommendations Draw Mixed Response

Industry participants offered their views on the recommendations released Oct. 15 by the 36-member Sales Integrity Task Force.

The Sales Integrity Task Force, during a public forum Oct. 15 at Keeneland, released its proposed guidelines for owner owner transparency, agent licensing, and medical disclosures. The 36-member task force, charged by the Kentucky General Assembly to come up with recommendations, suggested the industry opt for self-regulation through conditions of sale rather than through legislation.

Here are some comments from industry participants on the task force recommendations:

Jack Jones, Mineola Farm: “My initial impression is that there are some real questions as to some of the penalties that may be imposed. For example, let’s assume the seller has violated the code of ethics and he gets a two-year ban. Is he still going to be able to sell a horse or an interest in a horse that he owns through some third party at the sales? It’s not specific enough as to some of the ramifications. But I think it’s a step forward; there’s no doubt about that.”

Jim Squires, breeder of 2001 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Monarchos: “The idea that (task force members) are going to let the market decide (if disclosure is important) will put pressure on people to disclose ownership, so that’s good. I understand all the issues and they had a very difficult time, but they didn’t do a very good job convincing me why we have to have so much privacy.”

Jack Wolf, Starlight Stables, task force member: “The problem we’ve had in the past, when we’ve tried to have guidelines as far as a code of ethics is concerned, is to have some teeth and enforcement. And what we have come up with does have teeth and enforcement.”

Kitty Taylor, Warrendale Sales: “My initial impression is that it’s a good thing. But there are several serious points (task force members) need to raise. I encourage all my owners to put forth their ownership. Now you’re going to say to me, ‘If that’s inaccurate, we’re going to penalize you for that inaccuracy.’ It’s almost like biting the hand that feeds you. It’s almost like saying, ‘You’ve made your best effort, you’ve put forth the best information you collected, the best information you can get, and there’s a mistake, so now we’re going to punish you.’ ”

Kerry Cauthen, Four Star Sales: “I’m very positive because it is a logical and very well thought out solution to an extremely difficult problem. It took into account every point of view--not just the sellers, not just the sale companies, not just the buyers. It’s a difficult process to compromise. When no one is perfectly happy, then you probably have come up with a good result.

“Far be it from me to predict what will carry the day in Frankfort. But my experience is when an industry comes together and overwhelming comes up with a solution, government generally allows that solution to run its course before trying to intervene. Government knows it’s far better to self-regulate than for them to try to regulate because what often happens, when there is government regulation, is that people from areas that are not experienced in a given industry throw a lot of ideas out there, and those solutions have a lot of unintended consequences.”

Ric Waldman, consultant to Overbrook Farm: “I think it’s all positive. We’re a lot better off now than we were a year ago, and hopefully, they will continue to tweak this and continue to make it better. They have a lot more intelligent minds than my single mind, and I’m sure they looked at the practicality as well as the integrity issue, and I think they came up with a pretty solid game plan.”

Satish Sanan, Padua Stable, task force member: “I’m not sure we achieved everything that Jess Jackson and some other people would have liked to achieve. But I think it’s a huge step in a positive direction, and I think it’s a reasonable balance between the extreme right and the extreme left.

“If there is one comment I would make, I think it would be that (the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association) should keep a small, select version of the task force and continue to monitor if this code of ethics and whatever is in the sale catalogs are indeed working, and if there is abuse, that the abuser is reprimanded and punished. If we need to go back and make changes, then we should go back and make changes if we don’t see a significant improvement.”