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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Can There Be another Wiggle It Jiggleit in Our Future (Literally)?

An Australian court has just cleared the way for the cloning of standardbreds with some restrictions.  If this decision isn't overturned by an appeals court, we may see another Lyell Creek, Blacks A Fake, or Smoken Up in the next few years.

The court does impose some reasonable restrictions in their decision.   Under the judge's order; no more than one clone may be produced by the donor per breeding season; a clone may be only produced by a live donor, meaning there would not be another Monkey King once he passes on; no donor sire or damn may be used once it passes what has been established a reasonable breeding age.  These restrictions ensure cloning emulates as close as possible the current methodology of breeding.

Of course cloning would be of great benefit to those unable to breed the old fashioned way, meaning mostly geldings.  However, even if cloned, would the off-spring be as successful as daddy (kind of hard to use the word 'sire')?  After all, there was a reason why they were gelded in the first place.  Who is to say a Rambling Willie would have been as successful as he was were he intact?  It is quite possible Willie may have been a nondescript racehorse racing in lower claiming ranks if he wasn't gelded.  Hence, even with cloning, while you have a better chance of getting a 'good one', there are no guarantees you will as training methods, injuries, feed, and other variables come into play.

So the million dollar question is when will we see clones racing in the United States or North America?  Would one of these clones be allowed to race on this continent?

Under the current rules of the USTA, clones are not allowed to be registerd.   Back in 2005, the appeals court in the fifth federal circuit, overturned a lower courts ruling which required the AQHA to register cloned quarter horses on the grounds the AQHA rule prohibiting the registering of clones was a violation of anti-trust laws.  The appeals court overturned the decision claiming the AQHA was not a competitor, thus anti-trust laws weren't violated. So. barring a new case which requires the USTA or another breed registry to register a clone, the USTA's ban would hold.

Under the current rules, it is more likely an imported clone would be allowed to race as long as it is registered by Harness Racing Australia (HRA).  Under USTA rules, a horse registerd by HRA is accepted for racing and breeding in the United States.  Should the USTA no longer accept the Australian studbook in an effort to keep clones from racing in the United States or otherwise attempt to ban imported clones from racing, the chance of retaliation by HRA exists which could close the Australian market to American sires.

Of course, while American courts have upheld the ban on registering clones for racing, there is nothing to keep the USTA from accepting clones.  Should cloned standardbreds be successful in Australia, the desire to clone American horses may grow; after all, success encourages imitation.  In addition, we need to remember, the natural way of breeding has been redefined over the years; natural cover has been replaced by artificial insemination, semen transport has replaced the need for the broodmare being on the breeding farm's grounds, and embryo transfer has been accepted.  You can argue the 'good old way' is long gone; cloning would merely be the next step in the advancement of breeding.

My prediction is should cloning be successful in Australia we will see cloning of standardbreds become acceptable within the next ten years.  So yes, we may see another Wiggle It Jiggleit, but we may have to wait awhile before it happens.

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