Revived Sales Integrity Task Force Holds Organizational Meeting

Meeting for the first time since its announced resurrection almost three months ago, the revived Sales Integrity Task Force left its May 7 gathering at Keeneland with proclaimed vows of providing quick and satisfying results.

Re-formed in February as part of an emergency agreement to table proposed Kentucky legislation seeking stringent reforms to the equine auction industry, the 36-member task force has pledged to find consensus on specific agendas outlined in the bill--agent licensing, ownership disclosure, and veterinary disclosure.

The initial meeting was described as mostly organizational, with committees formed to address each of the three issues. Few details were made known to the media; an agreement was reached to not discuss particulars outside the confines of the meetings.

“We debated the issue of media access at length, there was healthy dialogue on that point, and there was not initially unanimity,” said Alex Waldrop, president of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association who was designated at the spokesman of the task force. “But we came to the consensus that at least for now, the best way to encourage open dialogue in that room among the task force members was to give them the assurance that their comments would not be used against them publicly.

“The last thing that we want is, as I explained to them, is to be debating these issues in the press. It only serves to alienate people and undermines the process of coming to a consensus.”

Serving as a member of the task force is billionaire horse owner Jess Jackson, the California vintner who backed the bill’s original language, just as he did with since-passed Kentucky legislation on dual agency.

Jackson declined to comment as he left the meeting, but his corporate attorney, Kevin McGee, later issued a statement on his behalf.

“We are optimistic, and it appears everyone is intending to take the process seriously and are willing to engage,” said McGee, who is also president of Jackson’s Horse Owners’ Protective Association advocacy group. “We are expecting that there will be lively debates on the issues, which we see as being a necessary part of the process, and healthy for the industry.”

Waldrop said he knows there are ultimate deadlines to producing results, as progress updates must be reported to the Kentucky legislature at the end of June and September, with a final report due Dec. 31.

“I feel there was a belief in that room that status quo is unacceptable,” Waldrop said. “If this industry doesn’t deal with it, it is very possible someone else will. So either you can deal with it in a manner that anticipates the unintended consequences, or you run the risk that it will be dealt with without your input.”

Waldrop acknowledged that he earlier met with a group of industry leaders about the task force’s mission, and firmly responded to suggestions that he is being pressured to support less stringent initiatives than the Jackson bill outlines.

“Let me tell you what I told that group: If you are expecting me to do anything but to foster open, honest dialogue about all issues, I’m not your guy,” he recounted of the meeting. “I’m not beholden to you, I’m not beholden to anyone. The NTRA membership crosses the entire industry and all perspectives. I am not going to be an advocate for anybody or anything.”

The next full meeting of the task force is scheduled for July 18, although committee meetings will be conducted at various times prior to that. The task force has been expanded to include members of other breeds besides Thoroughbreds that participate in Kentucky auctions.

Waldrop said the task force could be expanded beyond the current lineup if needed. He noted there was discussion in the meeting suggesting there were not enough members who are known primarily as buyers.

“I will not be part of any effort to exclude any group or individual because of their particular position on this issue,” Waldrop said. “No one will be excluded, and no voice will be stifled.”

For additional background, see

About the Author

Ryan Conley

Ryan Conley writes for the Star-Banner in Ocala, Fla. He is a past correspondent for The Blood-Horse

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from Learn More

Free Newsletters

Sign up for the latest in:

From our partners