Representatives of the Sales Integrity Program Monitoring Committee and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association have been making the rounds recently, talking to members of the media about the past and future efforts to make public auction transactions involving horses more transparent. It's clear that a lot of thought and debate have gone into the process. But it's also clear there is still more to be done.
Here are my thoughts on several steps that should be taken to continue to move the push for integrity along:
- 1. The Jockey Club needs to incorporate microchips into the horse identification process, which would allow for more accurate record-keeping involving medical records. Concern about accuracy, according to those close to sales integrity process, has prevented them from requiring the disclosure of surgeries that alter conformation. If we're really serious about improving the health of the breed, such disclosures are important because when horses are bred, they will allow the breeders to make decisions that might reduce the severity of defects in future generations of racehorses. If The Jockey Club won't use microchips, then maybe the sale companies should require them in the horses they sell, beginning with a specific foal crop.
- 2. Put the breeder of each horse on the sale catalog page, especially with weanlings, yearlings, and 2-year-olds, or put the information in an index in the catalog. People, who want it, can pay to get access to such information through various products. It's out there; make it available for free. Breeders' identifications aren't always apparent in the breeders' names given when foals are registered with The Jockey Club, but knowing the breeder of record at least gives the buyer a starting point. The fact that no one sought information from the voluntary ownership registry offered at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July select yearling sale doesn't mean it shouldn't be available. When I buy something, I don't always read all the information in or on the package, but it's there if I want to take a look.
- 3. Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton need to start testing for exogenous anabolic steroids in sale 2-year-olds. The Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. already is doing it, and Barretts has committed to doing it in 2009.
Does anybody else have any ideas for improving sales integrity?