Panel Discusses Veterinary Disclosure, Accountability

The issue of full disclosure of veterinary procedures for horses offered at auction generated lively discussion during the Nov. 2 Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers' Club meeting in Lexington. The Sales Integrity Task Force is preparing a position paper expected to include recommendations on the issue.

Task force chairman Cot Campbell and other task force members were the scheduled speakers, but Campbell, in a written statement to the membership, said being involved in a panel discussion would be inappropriate while the position paper is being developed. The task force is scheduled to meet Nov. 19.

The substitute panel included Rob Whiteley, Dr. Paul Thorpe, Mike Ryan, Tom VanMeter, Dr. Stuart Brown, and Dr. Chet Blackey. The speakers outlined their personal and professional concerns of when disclosure should be mandatory, and what type of information should be disclosed.

Whiteley, a buyer and consignor, broke the auction market into four major groups--breeders, consignors, buyers, and sale companies--each with a unique responsibility to work with the others. Though he acknowledged veterinarians and bloodstock agents are important to the process, he said they have a huge influence on decisions even though they have very little invested in the business.

"Everyone in these six groups has a responsibility and should be held accountable," said Whiteley, who works for Carl Icahn's Foxfield. "The breeders, their agents, and consignors, in my opinion, should be required to disclose any procedures or condition that has been conclusively shown by research or any other compelling evidence to be harmful to a racing prospect."

Whiteley said all buyers should be responsible by aligning themselves with honest people, and agents should be responsible for informing themselves about veterinary conditions and issues related to research so they can play a meaningful role in the selection process with their less-informed clients.

VanMeter, a partner in Eaton Sales agency, said though he doesn't believe in mandatory disclosure, he believes all consignors should truthfully answer questions from buyers concerning all procedures. He said very few buyers ask questions relating to procedures.

Brown, who spoke from a consignor and veterinarian point of view, said: "The responsibility of veterinarians is paramount to spend a lot of time educating clients, whether they are consignors or buyers. It is important that veterinarians spend a lot of time educating those people on what degree of risk they are undertaking."

About the Author

Leslie Deckard

Leslie Deckard is a former staff writer for The Blood-Horse magazine.

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