VOLUME 7 - 2014-2015 - ISSUE 1

7 Ky. J. Equine, Agric. & Nat. Resources L. 1 (2015).


Article Written By: Samuel D. Hinkle & Maria Gall

Rules defining the characteristics of horses that may be registered with a particular breed organization are essential to defining not only the breed to which the organization is devoted but also the collateral activities of the organization necessary to promote the breed, such as show competitions, jumping, and racing. These rules for registration are simply "rules of sport"- rules that are most efficiently made by the governing body of the organization, it having the incentive to maximize value for its participant members and spectators. Yet, like any rules of sport that by definition must exclude certain equipment in favor of other equipment with the idea of horses being akin to equipment explored later in this Article-breed registration standards have become the object of serious antitrust scrutiny. In 2013, the American Quarter Horse Association's rule prohibiting the registration of Quarter Horses produced by cloning was found to violate both Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act. The American Quarter Horse Association did not assert its registration standard as a rule of sport, which would have entitled it to the analytical deference afforded such rules in antitrust cases. Nevertheless, rules that regulate the registration and use of horses in equestrian events are not substantially different from those rules that regulate the use of equipment in other activities and sports-standards that have typically been upheld by courts.

This Article addresses the implications of accepting breed registration standards as "rules of sport," including how in McHugh v. Australian Jockey Club the comparison of registration rules to rules of sport influenced the court's decision to reject the applicant's claims that the Australian Jockey Club's rules prohibiting the registration of Thoroughbreds bred by artificial insemination violated Australia's antitrust laws. We begin Part I with an overview of claims under the Sherman Act and how under its structure Abraham & Veneklasen Joint Venture v. American Quarter Horse Association was brought and decided. In Part II, we explore why rules on the registration of horses are rules of sport, including the McHugh court's analysis on the matter. In Part III, we discuss the implications for the antitrust analysis when breed registration rules are accepted as rules of sport. Finally, in Part IV, we look briefly at how antitrust claims concerning rules of sport can have perverse effects to devalue the sport.