From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]
“Jockey Jesse Perez rides cloned mule Idaho Gem, center, across the
finish line for the win at the Winnemucca Mule Races, Show and Draft
Horse Challenge , Saturday, June 3, 2006, in Winnemucca, Nev. Two
cloned mules from the University of Idaho that had never raced before,
each bested a field of veteran race mules in their respective heats
Saturday. The two will meet head to head in the winner’s bracket on
Sunday.(AP Photo/Reno Gazette-Journal, Scott Sady)”

Cloned Mules Lose to Naturals in Pro Race

Associated Press Writer

WINNEMUCCA, Nev. (AP) — Nature triumphed over nurture as two cloned
mule brothers came up short in a professional race against
traditionally bred runners.

Idaho Gem, the world’s first equine clone, finished third while Idaho
Star wound up seventh in an eight-way race Sunday at the 20th annual
Winnemucca Mule Races, Show & Draft Horse Challenge.

Idaho Gem covered his 350-yard sprint in 21.246 seconds –
two-and-a-half lengths behind the winner, Bar JF Hot Ticket, who
finished in 20.866 seconds. Idaho Star checked in at 22.181 seconds.

“I think both animals, especially Idaho Gem, showed they have a lot of
upside,” said Don Jacklin, an Idaho man who helped finance the cloning
project. “They both proved they could compete.”

The clones, who competed for an $8,500 purse in the finals of their
bracket, won their qualifying heats Saturday in what was billed as the
first professional competition between clones of any kind.

A crowd of 1,000 people cheered as the mules raced down the stretch of
an oval track in Winnemucca, about 160 miles northeast of Reno.

Winnemucca was the first stop on a professional mule racing circuit
that will shift to county fairs in California through the summer.

Researchers on the cloning team hailed the clones’ athletic performance
and the project’s benefits to human cancer research.

Horses and other equines have significantly lower cancer rates than
humans, and scientists hope cloning will illuminate the difference and
provide research clues, particularly into calcium’s role in the

“Winning the race on the track is important, but the most important
race is to find cures for human health,” said Gordon Woods, the
University of Idaho scientist who created the clones.

A mule is the usually sterile offspring of a donkey father and a horse
mother. The clones were born three years ago and carry identical DNA
taken from a fetus produced by the same parents that sired a champion
mule racer.

Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States,
criticized the project.

“There’s no shortage of horses and mules,” Pacelle said. “Why do we
have to subject them to the risks associated with cloning? There’s no
legitimate purpose for this exercise.”

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