Jockey Club Launches AI Inquiry, Sets Separate Hearing

The Jockey Club is investigating allegations that a California farm owned by one of its members used artificial insemination in breeding a stallion named Siberian Summer, currently among the top 10 freshman sires.

Michael Power, the owner of Siberian Summer, is making the allegations that mares were bred using artificial insemination during 1998 and 1999, the first two of three years his stallion stood at Valley Creek Farm in Valley Center, Calif. The farm is co-owned by Jack Liebau, a Jockey Club member and head of California racing operations for Magna Entertainment.

Valley Creek Farm manager Leigh Ann Howard said Power's claims are outright lies.

"He claims he has documentation and I don't know what he has, but I can tell you what he's saying is absolutely false," Howard said.

Power said he has emails from Howard in which she discusses splitting semen samples and on January 3, 2000, she allegedly wrote a note to Power stating she would not use artificial insemination during the upcoming breeding season.

A discovery that some mares were bred to Siberian Summer by artificial insemination could cost some offspring their registration papers and substantially decrease their value. Power said he realizes the risk to his stallion's career, but he said "the integrity of the horse is at stake."

"I believe it wasn't used on every mare," he said. "I think it was selective and I would hope that is how the Jockey Club would look at it."

Artificial insemination violates Jockey Club rules, which say a mare must be bred by live cover in order for the resulting foal to be registered. Jockey Club spokesman Bob Curran said that registrar Edward "Buddy" Bishop gets one or two complaints about artificial insemination every year and investigates them to "some degree."
Power said he complained about Valley Creek Farm to Bishop a year ago and is concerned the Jockey Club has delayed action because Liebau is a member.

Curran said Liebau's membership has no bearing on the inquiry.

"This is being treated like every other case," Curran said. "He (Bishop) goes to whatever lengths he has to to resolve something like this."

In another case related to artificial insemination, Jockey Club stewards agreed during a regularly scheduled meeting Thursday to conduct a hearing into the fraudulent registration of four Palomino Thoroughbreds.

The Palominos were bred by Lauren Efford, owner of Goldhope Farm near Intercourse, Pa. The horses were bred by artificial insemination, but Red Fox Farm near Bryan, Texas, which owned the stallion named Glitter Please, reported the mares were bred by live cover and the offspring were registered by the Jockey Club. Last December, Red Fox Farm owners Linda and Milynda Milam notified the Jockey Club they made a mistake on the breeding reports for Efford's mares and disclosed that artificial insemination was used.

The registration papers were pulled on Efford's horses Feb. 22. She sued the Jockey Club on the grounds she was punished without a proper hearing. The lawsuit, filed in Pennsylvania, was dismissed because the judge she did not have jurisdiction. She said the Jockey Club did not do enough continuous business in Pennsylvania to justify hearing the case. Efford's attorney Robert Hoffa said he planned to re-file the suit in New York or Kentucky.

Hoffa said Thursday he had not heard a hearing had been granted and reserved comment until he received formal notification.

Once a hearing officer is found, usually a retired judge, a date will be set for the hearing, according to Curran.

Efford has admitted she was ignorant of Jockey Club rules when she started her Palomino breeding business in 1997. She said didn't realize that artificial insemination was not allowed. However, Efford also said she believes she is being victimized by the withdrawal of her registration papers. The stallion she bred to, Glitter Please, has since died. According to Efford, she and the Milams are the only ones in the country who own Palomino colts by this stallion. When she lost her papers, the Milams were left with the only registered offspring. The Milams could not be reached for comment.