12/17/2004 12:00AM

Sanan's public push for ethics a success


LEXINGTON, Ky. - When major Thoroughbred buyer Satish Sanan left Thursday's Sales Integrity Task Force news conference, he had reason to be satisfied. Thanks in large measure to public pressure from Sanan, the American Thoroughbred industry now has its first code of ethics.

"When I started this initiative back in June, I never expected to achieve the kind of success that we have," Sanan said. "I was very apprehensive, to be very candid."

Sanan, the Florida-based owner of Padua Stables, can now point to changes in two of three major categories he felt needed reform: disclosure of certain veterinary procedures and disclosure of dual agency, now required under the task force's code of ethics. But the third, disclosure of agents' clients in a transaction, proved all but impossible to achieve in task force meetings. Auction houses found themselves in a difficult position of trying to balance customers' right to privacy against prospective bidders' and the public's right to know who was involved in a transaction. In the end, the code of ethics could only "encourage" disclosure of horses' ownership.

Under the code, if a horse changes hands in a pre-auction private deal on sale grounds and the sale company is made aware of that deal, the change of ownership must be announced from the auctioneer's stand. That's a slight but significant change, sale company officials believe. Speaking at the news conference, Keeneland president Nick Nicholson pointed out that Keeneland's conditions of sale currently require withdrawal of horses sold privately before an auction - a condition that, Nicholson and others believe, probably discourages consignors and buyers from revealing those private transactions. The new code of ethics wording, which does not require privately sold horses to be withdrawn from auction, should promote more transparency, Nicholson reasoned.

The Alliance for Industry Reform, a group founded this summer by Sanan to encourage market reform, will continue to work for more disclosure of horse ownership, which it believes is important to promote buyers' confidence in the market's legitimacy.

"The lack of mandatory ownership disclosure remains a serious concern of ours and is one of the primary reasons why AIR will continue to be viable, though in the background, for next year," said AIR spokesman and attorney Amanda Simmons. "I would encourage all owners to use their purchasing power as a means of requiring ownership disclosures or any other kind of disclosures. If you are not given the information you want, then walk away from the horse."

Simmons also said AIR would continue to exist in 2005 as a forum for people to issue their concerns regarding the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association's continued progress with sales ethics, and added that AIR is very encouraged by the task force's work so far.

So were the 22 task force members, who by and large believe that the code of ethics has indeed added protection for new buyers entering the Thoroughbred market. The code's explicit discussion of fraudulent behavior should, they say, make buyers aware of potential pitfalls. And the sample legal agreements the code provides will give buyers standard contracts that, if broken, should give the buyer sound legal recourse.

"What this is really about is giving people the knowledge and the tools to protect themselves from being defrauded," one task force member said. "They will not arrive in the market completely naive."

Wild Zone moving to Kentucky

Wild Zone, a top-45 sire of juveniles, will move from Q6 Ranch in Texas to Millennium Farms Kentucky near Lexington. Millennium, owned by Ro Parra, also has sold a 50 percent interest in the horse to Mike Cavey. A 14-year-old son of Wild Again, Wild Zone will stand for $5,000 in 2005.

Wild Zone stood for four seasons in Texas. With five crops to race, he is the sire of 15 juvenile winners this year, most notably dual stakes winner Berdelia. Wild Zone's other stakes winners include Cavalier Billie, Wild Hits, Spin Zone, and Madam Speaker.

Wild Zone, a seven-time stakes winner with more than $500,000 in earnings, is out of Music Zone, by The Minstrel. He is a half-brother to stakes winner Strike Zone and a full brother to stakes-placed Snow Eagle.

* The Jockey Club in Great Britain has elected two honorary members: John Magnier, head of Coolmore Stud and a major auction player, and longtime British National Hunt horseman Bill Shand Kydd.