What do car rentals in Mexico, Bob stroller accessories and Dr. Berman's Love Quiz have to do with the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association bringing new owners into horse racing?
I'll try to answer that, but first let me provide some background.
Remember the Sales Integrity Program? That was the initiative launched in 2007 by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (in TOBA's words) “in response to an expressed desire within the Thoroughbred Industry to improve the opportunity for buyers at public auction sales to feel informed, understand the various aspects of the process and be confident they were being fairly treated.”
The Sales Integrity Program was a recommendation of the Sales Integrity Task Force – 36 men and women from the Thoroughbred industry and other breeds who devoted countless hours to the development of a Code of Ethics for public auctions. The Code of Ethics dealt with issues like disclosure of ownership and dual agency. The Task Force also created sample agent agreements and a veterinary dual agency agreement.
Satish Sanan and the late Jess Jackson are widely credited for pushing the Task Force and Sales Integrity Program into existence. Sanan in 2004 started an organization named Alliance for Industry Reform and the following year Jackson created the Horse Owners' Protective Association. The two groups subsequently merged. Both men felt they'd been fleeced by agents at Thoroughbred auctions, with Jackson filing a high-profile lawsuit that eventually was settled.
The Sales Integrity Task Force was important enough that TOBA voted it the 2008 Industry Service Award, given at the organization's annual National Awards Dinner.
“The individual and collective contributions from all members of the Sales Integrity Task Force must be recognized for their selfless giving of time as well as their expertise,” TOBA president Dan Metzger said in 2008. “Our industry was facing a daunting challenge and we responded with an unwavering commitment to integrity. The united and overwhelming support for the task force's recommendations demonstrated that we can improve our industry by working together.”
Six years later, the Sales Integrity Program is broken.
In the past few days, I've been contacted by people who want to get involved in horse ownership and asked if there was a resource to help them avoid the pitfalls novice owners often encounter when they wind up getting advice from unscrupulous individuals. That's what the Sales Integrity Program is all about.
I went to the TOBA website and looked under the “About TOBA” tab. In the “What Is TOBA” section, the Sales Integrity Program is the first thing mentioned in association with TOBA's “commitment to recruiting news owners.”
However, when I clicked on the TOBA Sales Integrity Program link and was taken to salesintegrity.org, I got articles about renting a car in Mexico, another about “Bob stroller accessories,” and a link to Dr. Berman's Love Quiz, among other things.
Nothing about horses, Thoroughbred auctions or sales integrity.
Apparently, TOBA allowed ownership of its salesintegrity.org URL to expire earlier this year and someone else bought it.
Even worse, no one has noticed since May, when salesintegrity.org transitioned from the Sales Integrity Program to one of the more eclectic blogs I've ever encountered.
There are people in the industry who have been asking for years, “What exactly does TOBA do?”
That's another good question.
I may not have a long-term answer, but in the next few hours, they'll be scrambling to come up with another website address and move the content of the Sales Integrity Program they made an unwavering commitment to six years ago.
(Editor's Note: Since publication of this article, TOBA has removed the link to its former Sales Integrity Program website at salesintegrity.org. Two of our readers said they notified TOBA of the bad link in June.)
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