antitrust trial pitting horse cloning proponents against the American Quarter Horse Association.An Amarillo federal court jury will resume deliberations Monday in an
Jurors deliberated two hours Friday before deciding to return to deliberations Monday.
Last year, rancher Jason Abraham of Canadian and Amarillo veterinarian Gregg Veneklasen sued the 280,000-member organization, seeking to overturn the association’s Rule 227a, which has barred cloned horses from the AQHA registry since 2004.
In closing arguments Friday, Nancy Stone, one of the plaintiffs’ attorney, told jurors evidence presented at trial clearly establishes that the AQHA’s rule against cloning violates sections of the Sherman Antitrust act and Texas antitrust statutes.
“Send a message to the good old boys, who … have the most skin in the game.”
Stone said the AQHA maintains monopoly control over the elite quarter horse industry and that excluding the plaintiffs’ cloned horses from its registry keeps the plaintiffs from competing in the multi-million-dollar quarter horse industry.
Top AQHA repeatedly rebuffed the plaintiffs’ attempts to have the rule changed and continued to stack the AQHA’ Stud and Rule Book Committee with top AQHA officials opposed to cloning. Many of those officials, he said, own horses that frequently compete in major racing events, Sam Stein, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, told jurors.
“They want to exclude his horses from competition because it doesn’t jibe with their economic interests,” he said.
But Wade Arnold, one of the AQHA’s attorneys, told jurors the organization has a right to set its own lawful and reasonable rules and that most of its members are opposed to cloning, some on moral grounds. Arnold told jurors the organization doesn’t hold monopoly sway over the quarter horse industry.
“Our members ought to have the right to make their own decisions,” he said. “Our members have reasonable and legitimate reasons to oppose those proposals.”
The AQHA convened a task force to study cloning and studied all the scientific research, he said, but the organization’s committee repeatedly declined to change the rule. The plaintiffs, Arnold said, knew the rule when they entered the business of breeding quarter horses.
“It doesn’t cause any harm to competition,” he said of the rule.
The AQHA issues and maintains pedigree records of all American quarter horses. The American quarter horse market features thousands of sanctioned races each year, and those events doled out more than $131.5 million in purse money last year, according to AQHA.