The nation's pre-eminent quarter horse organization must begin allowing cloned animals to be added to its prestigious registry, a federal judge in Texas decided Monday.
The judge issued an injunction against the American Quarter Horse Association and its prohibition of cloned horses, and their offspring, from its registry. The registry adds financial value to listed animals.
Two Texas ranchers had successfully sued the 280,000-member association, saying it was operating a monopoly by not allowing cloned horses. Jurors sided with the ranchers last month, ruling that association was violating antitrust laws, but the association — which has vowed to appeal — wasn't immediately ordered to change its policy.
U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson announced the injunction Monday during a court hearing in Amarillo. It will take effect 30 days after she signs it, which may happen later this week.
The decision could set a precedent because no American horse breeding groups currently allow cloned horses to be registered.
"We're thrilled. We're just thrilled," said Nancy Stone, the ranchers' attorney. "It is definitely time."
She said members have been asking that the rules be changed since late 2007, but she acknowledged that less than a half dozen members have actually requested the change.
The quarter horse association remained adamant Monday about its rights as a private group to set reasonable and lawful rules. Among its main objections to cloning is that the technology makes only copies and doesn't improve the breed. It also has the potential to intensify the narrowing of the gene pool, which could lead to the worsening of genetic diseases.
"AQHA will continue to take any and all necessary legal action in seeking to have the verdict of the jury and any judgment entered by the Court in favor of plaintiffs reversed," AQHA Executive Vice President Don Treadway said in an emailed statement. "AQHA will continue to fight for its members' rights."
The ranchers' attorneys noted during trial that the association has, since 1960, registered animals born through other non-natural means, including artificial insemination.
The cloning method at issue, called somatic cell nuclear transfer, is the most common means of cloning.
A somatic cell, which isn't from a sperm cell or egg cell, is taken from the animal to be cloned and contains the complete DNA of the animal. An egg cell is then taken from a female of the same species. In the lab, a scientist extracts and discards the nucleus of the egg cell, which holds the egg donor's genes and the somatic cell from the genetic donor is inserted into the egg. The resulting egg develops using the genetic donor's DNA and is then implanted into a surrogate mother.
In 1997, scientists in Scotland announced the birth of Dolly, a sheep born a year earlier and the first animal cloned using the somatic cell nuclear transfer.
I've often wondered if the cloned animal has a normal life cycle for its species and then what, if any, is the effect on the gene pool. I must confess to being too lazy to research these questions...they're just passing thoughts.
The answer is, very few cloned animals have normal life spans. They are weaker and less resilient than the "original." Think of them like facsimiles from a Xerox machine, more faded and blurry with each copy.
As for the effects on the gene pool of a particular species, scientists are all over the place on that. There's the predictable opinion that the introduction of multiple individuals with nearly identical genetic makeup will narrow the gene pool of that species drastically, emphasizing genetic faults; some scientists come in on the opposite end of the issue saying that clones can help decrease hereditary diseases. The FDA sidesteps the whole issue this way: "Cloning is just another tool in the animal breeders’ toolbox. Like other assisted reproductive technologies, the effects of cloning on the gene pool will depend on responsible use of the technology by animal breeders."
Regarding the gene pool issue, I thought it might result in situations that occur with inbreeding in any species ie: the prevalence of genetic faults. This was an issue brought to light by anthropologists who studied groups that were isolated from the general population such as families in Appalachia and Amazon and Borneo indigenous populations. So they're still quibbling over this issue!
I just hope that all the horses race safely and no one gets hurt.
I TOTALLY agree, Carol. I'm not a fan of racing.
Still, California Chrome's achievement is notable, and I can't help cheering him on. It is of course the owners that get the real benefits of his hard work...
A valiant effort from a strong-hearted boy. I'm glad it's over safely and CC can get some rest.
The longest wait in sports is not over.
California Chrome's bid to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978 fell short in Saturday's Belmont Stakes.
After winning both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes by a length and a half, the mile-and-a-half Belmont proved to be too much for Chrome, who finished fourth to winner Tonalist.
And with that, the longest drought in Triple Crown history continues.
Since Affirmed's sweep 36 years ago, 13 horses now have gone to Belmont Park with the Derby and Preakness in hand only to falter somehow, some way. Real Quiet was nipped at the wire in 1998; War Emblem stumbled out of the gate in 2002; Smarty Jones faltered down the stretch in '04; and I'll Have Another was scratched with an injury the day before the race in '12.
Now add Chrome's fade down the stretch to the list.
The loss brought out a bitter reaction from Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn, who was upset by the fact that the winner of the Belmont once again did not race all three legs of the Triple Crown.
"It's not fair to these horses that have been in the game since Day 1," Coburn told NBC. "Our horse had a target on his back. Everybody else lays out one, or they won't run in the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness. They'll wait until the Belmont.
"... This is a coward's way out."
Of the 11 horses that were entered into the Belmont, only three (including Chrome) ran the Derby and Preakness, too.
These days, if their horse doesn't win the Derby, some trainers do hold them out of the Preakness knowing the extra rest gives them an advantage in the mile-and-a-half Belmont.
When Affirmed won in '78, the Belmont field consisted of only five horses, with his chief competition Alydar running all three legs of the Triple Crown alongside him.
Conversely, when Smarty Jones got passed in the final few strides of the '04 Belmont, many wondered where Birdstone, at 36-1 odds, had come from. It wasn't the Preakness, because after finishing eighth in the Derby, trainer Nick Zito skipped the second leg.
Before Saturday's race, only once in the last 12 years – in 2005 – had a horse that ran at the Preakness actually won the Belmont Stakes.
Make it once in 13 years, as Tonalist hadn't raced since May 10 and competed in only one leg of the Triple Crown – Belmont.
"I don't think I have a comment on that," Tonalist owner Robert Evans told NBC when asked about Coburn's comments.
Still, it was an impressive run for Chrome, especially considering the horse's backstory: a modest pedigree, blue-collar owners, 77-year-old trainer who'd never sniffed a Triple Crown start until now and jockey who was believed to be past his prime.
Chrome was bred from a mare that cost $8,000 – a pittance in the mi.... But many so-called experts thought even that was too steep a price to pay for a horse with unimpressive bloodlines. Not Coburn and Perry Martin, who saw something others didn't in Love the Chase.
That something proved to be a colt named California Chrome, born to Love the Chase on Feb. 18, 2011.
Whatever questions there were about the horse's pedigree were vanquished in the months leading up to the Derby when Chrome won four straight races, a streak that began with 42-year-old jockey Victor Espinoza taking the mount.
The streak reportedly led to a pre-Derby offer of $6 million for a 51 percent stake in Chrome, which Martin and Coburn turned down.
They wanted their shot at Derby glory, with their jockey and their trainer, Art Sherman. Giving up control of Chrome would have stripped them of all of that, and likely meant Sherman, a lifer whose résumé is long on starts but short on glory, would have been out.
Don't think it was an easy decision. These aren't your average thoroughbred owners – and by average we mean deep, deep pockets. Martin owns a product testing company in Sacramento, while Coburn makes magnetic strips for credit cards.
They dubbed their stable "Dumb Ass Partners" because that's what people called them after purchasing Love the Chase. And after turning down a seven-figure offer for Chrome, the name might have fit.
Except that again they knew something everyone else didn't.
Chrome went into the Derby a 5-2 favorite and won after charging away from the field as it entered the stretch. Then the three-year-old did the same at the Preakness two weeks later.
Dumb asses no more, Martin and Coburn headed to Long Island for a chance at immortality, only to fall just short.
Now, instead of having California Chrome's name added to the list of legends – Sir Barton, Gallant Fox, Omaha, War Admiral, Whirlaway, Count Fleet, Assault, Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed – California Chrome becomes the 23rd horse to win the Derby and Preakness, only to fall short in the Belmont.
If there is a silver lining in the loss it's that the elusiveness of the Triple Crown endures, providing casual fans a reason – that is to see something that hasn't been done in a long, long time – to watch. While this is no consolation for California Chrome and his attachments, it does extend for yet another year a five-week window of intrigue into a sport that's starving for attention.
|TRIPLE CROWN WINNERS|
|1919||Sir Barton||John Loftus||H.G. Bedwell||J.K.L. Ross|
|1930||Gallant Fox||Earl Sande||James Fitzsimmons||Belair Stud|
|1935||Omaha||William Saunders||James Fitzsimmons||Belair Stud|
|1937||War Admiral||Charley Kurtsinger||George Conway||Samuel D. Riddle|
|1941||Whirlaway||Eddie Arcaro||Ben A. Jones||Calumet Farm|
|1943||Count Fleet||John Longden||Don Cameron||Mrs. J.D. Hertz|
|1946||Assault||Warren Mehrtens||Max Hirsch||King Ranch|
|1948||Citation||Eddie Arcaro||Ben A. Jones||Calumet Farm|
|1973||Secretariat||Ron Turcotte||Lucien Laurin||Meadow Stable|
|1977||Seattle Slew||John Cruguet||William Turner Jr.||Karen L. Taylor|
|1978||Affirmed||Steve Cauthen||Lazaro S. Barrera||Harbor View Farm|
The winner's name was Tonalist! When they were announcing it on the sports news last night, I thought they were saying Totilas! LOL!
Keeping to its schedule of publishing new dressage tests every four years, the USEF revealed the 2015 tests in November 2014. The USEF Test Writing Committee, a subcommittee of the USEF Technical Dressage Committee made up of a small group of trainers, riders and judges, starts work on new tests three years in advance by communicating with the USDF Test Writing Committee about comments and suggestions collected about the current tests. During these discussions, the philosophy of the new tests will be decided. For example, when I was on the USEF committee (I was on through four test cycles, or 16 years, up until 2012), we all felt that Second Level was lacking in collection and we discussed many ways in which we felt the tests could be improved to help the riders learn and train better collection. Hence, the appearance of simple changes (canter–walk–canter) into the tests.
The goal for the 2015 cycle was to make the tests more progressive. Olympic judge Gary Rockwell, who chaired the USEF Test Writing Committee for 2015, explains, “In Second Level, the three-loop counter canter serpentine was in Test One. We felt that this was more difficult than the counter-canter patterns in Test Three. So, to that end, we made Second, Test One easier and moved the three-loop counter-canter serpentine to Test Three.”
Many of the changes were made to allow the judges to have a better view of the movement. For example, the flying change in the old Third Level, Test Three was on the centerline, which made it difficult for the judges to evaluate. Now, for a better view, this change has been moved to a diagonal line.
There are a few new movements for 2015, including one from the old Grand Prix test, the “swing.” This movement is a test of the horse’s suppleness and obedience and can be found in the new Fourth Level, Test Three. Following is a summary of the changes in each of the levels:
Changes in Collective Marks
The Harmony score has been removed and there are now five scores: Gaits, Impulsion, Submission and two Rider scores. Some new wording has been added for the directives. In Submission, judges will now look for “willing cooperation” and “straightness.” In the score for Rider’s Position and Seat, judges will look for alignment, posture, stability, weight placement and the following of the mechanics of the gaits. In the score for Rider’s Correction and Effective Use of the Aids, judges will look for clarity, subtlety, independence and accuracy of the movements. This last score also will address the use of the corners.
Through the Levels
Riders will see more canter in Training Level, Test One. The canter circles also have been moved, with one at A and one at C. The canter depart is now on the first quarter of the circle, so a three-quarter circle of canter is required. A short diagonal of medium walk has been added to Training Level, Test Two. Otherwise, Training Level, Test Two is unchanged. The Regional Championship Qualifying Test, Training Level, Test Three is also unchanged. The option of sitting or posting is still available.
In First Level, the trot lengthenings in the first two tests will be on short diagonals, for example from S to F. The canter lengthenings follow suit, with the pattern asking for a lengthening from S to V. Transitions back are now shown on the first half of a 15-meter circle. Stretch circles are in visible locations for the judge. Leg yields are introduced in Test Two, but the biggest change comes in First Level, Test Three. The leg yields are ridden in a counter change of hand pattern and the two 10-meter circles are placed elsewhere. I think this is a big improvement. For young, big-moving horses, the old pattern was really difficult and hard for the rider to keep the horse balanced and thinking forward. The canter tour remains the same and the option of sitting or posting remains.
Second Level is quite different, due to the addition of more counter canter and the removal of renvers. In Second Level, Test One, an old pattern reemerges. There is a serpentine of three loops in canter with a simple change each time you cross centerline. Canter mediums are on a short line. The trot work includes shoulder-in and the medium trots are on a short diagonal. This test also includes a rein back. Second Level, Test Two has shoulder-in and travers. The new counter-canter pattern rides really well and is very inviting for the horse. Riders need to be careful about the accuracy of the half 20-meter circle from S to R, however. Second Level, Test Three has another old pattern returning: The shoulder-in is ridden to a 10-meter circle to the travers. Mediums in trot and canter are now on full lines. The three-loop serpentine in canter from the old Second Level, Test One has been moved to this test.
Third Level has few changes. There is no gradual introduction to mediums or extensions in Test One; all are on full lines. Third Level, Test Two has quite a lot of trot work. Two renvers have been added along with the shoulder-in and half pass. To make up for the addition of the renvers, the two extra flying changes on the short diagonals have been removed. Test Three remains the same with the exception of the flying change, which has been relocated. After the half pass, which ends on centerline, the rider will make a half 10-meter circle and then proceed on the diagonal for the flying change.
Fourth Level, Test One has one change. The flying change after the half pass no longer requires counter canter to C. The change is on the long side at H and M. Canter half passes have been added to Fourth Level, Test Two and the pirouette pattern is like a triangle, starting with the line H to X. The working pirouette is then shown at X and the line returns to M. Instead of the three changes with no count on centerline, the changes required are now three changes every fourth stride. Fourth Level, Test Three is quite difficult, with the addition of several new movements. An old Prix St. Georges pattern appears in the canter. This new movement requires a half 10-meter circle in true canter, followed by a half 10-meter circle in counter canter. The rein back “swing” is a new addition. The first halt should be settled. The horse then steps back four steps and without halting steps forward four steps and, again without halting, steps back four steps before proceeding to trot. There should be no interruption of the fluidity during these transitions from the backward steps to the forward steps. In addition to flying changes every fourth stride, flying changes every third stride also now are required.
Riders and judges should be sure to examine the directive ideas. These directives will help guide you in learning what is the most important aspect of these new movements.
Scribes will notice the tests are a bit longer and don’t fit on one side of a sheet of paper anymore. However, the comment boxes are a bit roomier than before.
Remember that starting now, the USDF Test Writing Committee will begin to take comments and suggestions for the next test cycle. So be sure to send your suggestions to the USDF (usdf.org).