Sales Integrity Task Force Submits Initial Progress Report

The Sales Integrity Task Force submitted its first report to Kentucky lawmakers at a Joint Interim Committee on Licensing and Occupations meeting June 19 in Erlanger, Ky.

Bayne Welker of Mill Ridge Farm was present to speak for the group in the absence of task force moderator Alex Waldrop, president of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, who had a business engagement in Washington D.C. 

Sen. Gary Tapp, co-chair of the committee, reported on behalf of the 36-member task force that things were "headed in the right direction."

The task force met for the first time May 7 and formed three committees--ownership disclosure, licensing of agents and consignors, and medication disclosure--and advisory groups on agent and consignor, legal, and veterinary issues.

"All members are eligible to sit in on the subcommittees they're not involved in," said Tapp. "From my understanding from (Waldrop), the dialogue has been very forthright, and there has been a move toward a consensus. I think we're really getting down to the core of these issues."

The task force is scheduled to meet again July 12. Officials said a statement from the task force probably won’t be released until after the July meeting.

"We need to remember that Kentucky is the leading exporter of Thoroughbred bloodstock in the world," Kentucky Sen. Damon Thayer told committee members at the June 19 meeting. "I've been following the progress of the Sales Integrity Task Force and I feel very confident that they are working together toward a consensus, and I'm hopeful that some of the small problems that exist can be fixed internally. I hope that legislation is a last resort."

Thayer added that he hoped the task force would submit new policies on its own to be instituted by the sale companies in order to prevent legislation from damaging the industry.

Welker said the task force plans to have all its issues resolved before the end of September, when another report is due. He added that the group has opened itself to several other breeds in addition to Thoroughbreds.

Rep. Larry Clark brought up the issue of the task force meetings being closed to the public and members of the media. "I think you need to open the meetings to the public and have people participate," he said. "I was insulted to have signed the compromise and find out all the meetings are closed."

Welker responded by saying the meetings were closed for a reason--to prevent political posturing among members while they are discussing sensitive issues. "When we start coming to a consensus, we will eventually make them open," he said. "If we keep it in-house and make sure everything stays in that room and we have one representative, it's going to provoke a good, honest dialogue."

The Sales Integrity Task Force was created as a compromise to HB 388, which called for complete disclosure of a horse's ownership, including when an owner invested in the horse if the investment was made within the past 12 months. The bill was backed by California wine mogul and Thoroughbred owner Jess Jackson, who has filed multiple lawsuits alleging fraud in horse sales.

The task force was charged with producing regular updates on its progress as part of the compromise. The first report is due by June 30 under legislative order. Another legislative report is due by Sept. 30, with a final report due by Dec. 31. The next regular Kentucky General Assembly session begins in January 2008.