Jury bucks horsemen’s advice, says cloned horses should be allowed in AQHA

Clones at Texas A&M

A federal court jury said Tuesday that the AQHA should allow registration of cloned horses, possibly clearing the way for those horses to be shown and raced in AQHA-sanctioned events.

The jury in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Amarillo found in favor of rancher Jason Abraham of Canadian, Texas, and veterinarian Gregg Veneklasen of Amarillo, saying the association violated the federal Sherman Antitrust Act and the Texas Free Enterprise and Antitrust Act.

 
The verdict does not mean cloned horses automatically get registered. But the plaintiffs’ lawyers said they hoped the AQHA would allow registration without a court hearing on a permanent injunction.

The plaintiffs had asked for $2 million to $5 million in damages, but the jury provided no money award.

Abraham and Veneklasen argued the association held an illegal monopoly in quarter horse racing.
 
Abraham and Veneklasen, both members of the association, had argued that cloning would strengthen the quarter horse breed by re-introducing champions who are deceased or unable to breed, and could help reduce disease by enabling breeders to “silence detrimental genes.”
 
But opponents of cloning within the association countered by saying that natural breeding produced the most desirable traits and that cloning undermines the progression of the breed. They also pointed to the chance of growth defects displayed in other cloned animals.
 
Cloning isn’t easy, it isn’t cheap, and there are no guarantees that the clone will match the talent of the original. The first successfully cloned horse, a mare called Prometea, was born in 2003. Today, there are only a few hundred equine clones, created mainly for breeding, not competing. The cloning process can cost more than a $150,000. With cloning, the original horse can travel and compete (and be gelded for better performance), while its copy becomes a full-time foal-making machine.
 
Pure Tailor Fit
One example of quarter horse cloning is Pure Taylor Fit, a young copy of two-time world champion racehorse Tailor Fit – a gelding. According to the website Taylor Fit Barrel Horses, Pure Taylor Fit began standing at stud in 2011.
“In my opinion, this is a perfect example of greed by two people taking advantage of a legitimate association with legitimate rules that they want to break,” Carol Harris, who has been a member of the AQHA for more than 60 years, and bred the legendary AQHA stallion Rugged Lark, told the Ocala Star Banner. ““We could lose the DNA trail, and that could be really dangerous,” Harris said of using cloned horses for breeding purposes. 
“If I cloned Rugged Lark, it wouldn’t be Rugged Lark. It might look like him, but Rugged Lark became who he was because of the way he was raised; what we did with him every day. I couldn’t even begin to do the things we did. I don’t even remember half of what we did,” she said.

Other equine champions that have been cloned include Pan American Games gold-medalist Sapphire, whose genetic twin is called Saphir, and Olympic dressage horse Rusty, whose genetic twins are now yearlings.
The two yearlings are being raised by cloning specialist Cryozootech to become stallions.
In July 2012 the FEI lifted a ban on cloned horses and their progeny competing in the Olympic Games.  

In analyzing cloned horses, the federation determined that the clones were only 98 percent copies of the originals. The FEI has been careful to emphasize that cloning is a breeding technique only—they will never allow processes that might select certain genes over others in an attempt to create a superhorse.
 
The Jockey Club, which registers thoroughbreds in North America does not allow cloning or any type of assisted breeding, including artificial insemination.
“Anybody can clone Secretariat,” Dan Rosenberg of the Three Chimneys thoroughbred farm in Lexington, Kentucky, told Yahoo! Sports in 2012. “Not everyone can breed Secretariat.”
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