In a move that could, in the future, pave the way for laboratory-created animals to participate in races, a judge, on Monday, asked the American Quarter Horse Association, or AQHA, to include cloned horses in its registry, Reuters reported.
AQHA, located in Amarillo, Texas, is a breed registry and membership organization, and approves a number of horse races every year.
Upholding a jury’s decision, which was handed down last month after two breeders from Texas -- Jason Abraham and Gregg Veneklasen -- sued the AQHA stating that the organization was excluding cloned horses to create a monopoly, US District Court Judge Mary Lou Robinson said she would ask the AQHA to change its policy.
But, this order has not gone down well with horse breeders who noted that cloned horses have an unfair advantage when it comes to racing as their genetic makeup is superior. And, the stakes are high in this debate considering the fact that last year’s total race prize money exceeded $130 million.
"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," Don Treadway, AQHA executive vice president, said in a statement to Associated Press. "AQHA will continue to fight for its members' rights."
AQHA’s registry currently has more than 750,000 animals, and if the association changes its policy, it will be the first horse breeding registry to do so, Reuters reported, although the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association already allows cloned horses to compete in rodeos.
Nancy Stone, attorney for Abraham and Veneklasen, argued for the inclusion of cloned animals in AQHA’s registry arguing that the association, since 1960, has registered animals born through non-natural methods such as artificial insemination, AP reported.
"We're thrilled. We're just thrilled," Stone told the AP regarding Monday's ruling. "It is definitely time."