Eric Mitchell, editorial director and editor-in-chief of The Blood-Horse, shares his thoughts on the recent Texas ruling about registration of cloned foals for the American Quarter Horse Association and how that might impact the Thoroughbred industry.


At first blush one might expect some concern over at The Jockey Club regarding last week’s ruling in Texas that the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) violated federal antitrust laws by banning the registration of cloned horses.

The North American Thoroughbred registry has steadily held the line on requiring all registered horses to be the result of natural cover. In 2002 TJC went the extra step by amending its rules to specifically prohibit cloning.
 
Proponents of artificial insemination, embryo transfer, and cloning technology, however, have challenged breed registry rules several times in the U.S. and abroad since 2001, alleging violations of antitrust and free-trade laws. They have had some success.
 
A case in 2002, also against the AQHA, forced the organization to begin registering all foals born by embryo transfer. Previously the AQHA allowed the registration of foals conceived by embryo transfer but only one foal per mare per year. A court found the one-foal rule was an unreasonable restraint of trade, so the AQHA settled with the plaintiff and changed its rule.
 
In the clone lawsuit the attorneys for rancher Jason Abraham and Amarillo veterinarian Gregg Veneklasen successfully argued that clones should not be excluded from the registry, particularly since the AQHA has already recognized “non-natural breeding techniques” such as artificial insemination.
 
This point about opening the door to non-natural bre