Horse owner Jess Jackson, supporting Kentucky legislation on horse ownership and veterinary records.

Horse owner Jess Jackson, supporting Kentucky legislation on horse ownership and veterinary records.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Officials Meet on Proposed Kentucky Legislation

Negotiations over proposed Kentucky legislation that would require disclosure of ownership and veterinary records of horses sold at public auction were held Feb. 13 at Keeneland in Lexington, with some tentative settlement plans discussed that would table the bill for at least a year.

Officials with the Horse Owners’ Protective Association, which is backing the controversial legislation introduced into the Kentucky House Feb. 8, met with sales company and consignor association representatives to voice their respective opinions. The bill, HB 388, is scheduled to have its first hearing in a joint committee Feb. 14 at the Kentucky Capitol Annex in Frankfort.

The bill has the backing of California winemaker and Thoroughbred horseman Jess Jackson, who is a director of HOPA. Jackson championed dual agency legislation in 2006 that was eventually voted into Kentucky law.

Those present at the meeting were reluctant to talk about any details of the discussions, saying that a final agreement hasn't been reached. But some expressed optimism that some sort of deal would be worked out.

“Things look positive right now,” said Walt Robertson, president of Fasig-Tipton. “We’ll meet again tomorrow (Feb. 14).”

Kevin McGee, the president of HOPA and a corporate attorney for Jackson, said, “There was a very earnest sense that something needed to get done.”

The original language of the bill calls for disclosure of the owner(s) of a horse, including the date ownership began. If ownership of a horse was for fewer than 12 months, the names of the immediate previous owner also must be disclosed. The disclosure is required of the owner and seller of a horse.

Information regarding ownership of horses offered at public auction would reside in the medical records repository and be made available to "bona fide potential purchasers." Any horse sold following entry in a public auction would be required to be withdrawn from the sale.

HB 388 also requires disclosure of a horse’s present medical condition, including whether or not it is currently under the care of a veterinarian or has been administered therapeutic medication. Any medical conditions that arose during ownership of the horse would have to be disclosed, as would any administration of anabolic steroids.

Critics of the bill said stipulations in the law would be difficult to implement, and could unnecessarily affect Kentucky’s Thoroughbred sales industry in a negative way.