05/07/2007 12:00AM

Sale integrity panel sets sights on medication, ownership issues


LEXINGTON, Ky. - In its first meeting in Lexington on Monday, the revived and expanded Sales Integrity Task Force established three committees that will take on three contentious issues: disclosure of medications in sales horses, disclosure of sales horses' ownership interests, and the potential licensing of bloodstock agents.

According to attendees, Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton also announced at the meeting that they are developing a protocol that could allow horse buyers to request anabolic steroid screening for their purchases at the time of sale. Under the proposal, buyers would pay a fee to have a horse screened.

Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton representatives would not provide additional details of the protocol, which the task force's chairman, Alex Waldrop, said could be "refined" in the medications committee. Keeneland spokesman Julie Balog confirmed only that "a policy regarding the use of anabolic steroids in sale horses" is in the works and added, "Our goal is to have a policy in place by 2008."

Task force members contacted after the two-hour meeting at Keeneland hailed the committees as a good first step toward creating workable policies for the bloodstock marketplace. And they were positive about the general atmosphere as 36 panel members representing a variety of breed organizations and agendas met for the first time.

"It was an excellent meeting," Waldrop said. "We set as our goal to bring all facets of the horse sales industry together and to reach consensus for what is best for the horse industry in the areas of licensing of agents and consignors, ownership disclosure, and medication disclosure in the horse-sales context."

Waldrop said the committees had committed to meet as soon as possible to appoint chairmen and begin "the process of arriving at a recommendation" for the full task force, which next meets on July 18.

Waldrop said the task force also had brought together groups of attorneys, veterinarians, and bloodstock agents to serve as advisers to the task force committees. Each committee also has an administrative support person.

Appointed to the Ownership Disclosure Committee were John Adger, Robert Clay, Redd Crabtree, Joe Costa, Bill Farish, Jess Jackson, Tom Ludt, Reiley McDonald, Frank Penn, Dermot Ryan, Satish Sanan, Fred Seitz, John Sikura, and D. G. Van Clief, Jr. Dan Metzger will provide administrative support.

The Licensing of Agents Committee includes Mike Akers, Headley Bell, Reynolds Bell, Bruce Crowe, Jess Jackson, Ken Jackson, Norman Luba, Martha Jane Mulholland, Nick Nicholson, Walt Robertson, Bayne Welker, and Jack Wolf. David Switzer will provide administrative support.

The Medications Committee members are Jimmy Bell, Wayne Boyd, Bill Casner, Robert Clay, Bill Heiligbrodt, Bill Landes, Denny Nunnelley, Earl Rogers, Geoffrey Russell, Fred Sarver, Mark Taylor, and John Ward. Patrick Neely will provide administrative support.

Few attendees would speak on the record, citing a wish to leave public comment to Waldrop. But Kevin McGee, head of the Horse Owners' Protective Association, launched by Jess Jackson, reflected the views of other participants.

"We're encouraged and optimistic," he said. "Everyone seemed to take the task very seriously. I think Alex Waldrop ran a very efficient meeting and got the point across to the task force that it is being tasked to come up with a very tangible end product."

The panel had not met since 2004, when a 22-person panel produced a nonbinding code of ethics for bloodstock sales. But Jackson, a major Thoroughbred buyer and breeder, has since called for measures such as licensing bloodstock agents, disclosure of all owners of horses for sale at public auction, and full disclosure of sale horses' veterinary histories.