05/26/2016 3:06PM

California considers more liberal use of whip in deep stretch


ARCADIA, Calif. - California Thoroughbred jockeys will be allowed to use their whips with greater frequency in the last sixteenth of a mile under a proposed rule introduced at Thursday’s California Horse Racing Board meeting.

The board voted 4-3 to amend a nearly year-old rule and allow riders to use whips up to four times in succession in the final sixteenth of a mile before pausing to allow their mounts to respond. Current rules state that riders are allowed three strikes during a race before they must pause to allow horses to respond.

Violations have resulted in fines and occasional suspensions since the rule was enacted last July.

The proposed rule will be submitted for a public comment period before being addressed again by the board later this year. Any potential change is unlikely until late this year.

Chairman Chuck Winner was joined by commissioners Madeline Auerbach, veteran jockey Alex Solis, and Richard Rosenberg in approving the rule change. Commissioners George Krikorian, Jesse Choper, and Steve Beneto voted against the change.

Prior to the vote, the issue was the subject of a spirited debate among commissions and racing officials regarding horse and rider safety issues. The proposed rule change originated from discussions with the Jockeys’ Guild, according to Winner.

Darrell Haire of the Jockeys’ Guild asked the board to approve the change.

“Four times in the last sixteenth of a mile is reasonable,” he said. “We’re asking for the jockeys to get the most out of their mounts and for the bettors to get a fair chance.”

Solis, the only jockey on the racing board, said an expansion to four strikes was reasonable. He cited as an example his ride on Stays in Vegas in the $100,690 Senorita Stakes at Santa Anita on May 7. Solis won the race by a head, and used his whip more than three times in succession in the stretch, resulting in a $200 fine for a second offense in a 60-day period.

“I was in trouble,” he said of the fine. “If I wouldn’t have hit [her]…It would have cost me the winner.

“I think it’s a good change. The last sixteenth is when you need more help in using your crop. Horses are getting tired. You’re trying to encourage them.”

Beneto and Solis engaged in a brief debate about use of the whip. After Solis related the anecdote, Beneto tipped that he was against the rule change.

“Horses are tired and are giving out and we’re hitting them with a whip?” he said. “That’s cruel.”

Solis objected, saying that if his horse is tired he would not use his whip.

“I’m saving it because he’s out of a race,” he said.

State chief steward Darrel McHargue and Santa Anita-based steward Scott Chaney spoke in favor of keeping the existing rules in place.

“There have been benefits for three strikes as opposed to indiscriminately hitting the horse,” McHargue said to the board.

“If a rule is broken, make changes. In my opinion, three strikes has worked well.”

Chaney told the racing board that the current rule as “a resounding success” and urged no change.

“We review every race a little more closely,” he said. “We like it. It’s safer riding and cleaner. From my perspective, it’s a better perception. It’s complete animal abuse to use the whip more often when they are getting more tired. We’d like to see it decrease.

“It’s simple - are we for more whipping or less whipping? From the stewards’ perspective, we are for less whipping.”

Auerbach, an active owner and breeder, vehemently challenged Chaney’s opinion that abuse took place with excessive whipping.

“Any characterization that we’re abusing horses is unfair,” she said. “I don’t want us to do anything that interferes with the outcome of the race. I don’t think any of us have the intent of anything that resembles animal abuse.”

Winner reminded Chaney that any signs of abuse by a jockey could be dealt with through other rules.

“If the stewards feel the jockey is abusing the horse, that’s your job,” he said. “There isn’t anyone who wouldn’t want you to come down.”


lord_at_war More than 1 year ago
What do you do when your horse is "lugging in", and you whip it three times without effect?

Do you hit it again, or just plow the horse coming up the inside over the rail?
Richard Glassman More than 1 year ago
They should just leave it alone. The worse thing for the public or owners to see is a horse in distress with a jockey still whipping him. If a horse isn't good enough to win getting whipped three times in the final 16th, then I'm sorry you lost. The rules are even for all horses right now and if you believe that whipping a horse more is good, then I guess the publics perception of abuse doesn't mean anything to a sport hanging on by a thread.
Lafe Bassett More than 1 year ago
I would prefer that that CHRB should provide the whips used, not the jockeys! They are made from the thickest part of a fishing pole, and if you look at the whips used just in the Kentucky Derby the past few years, the resemble "billy clubs"!
Paul Nolan More than 1 year ago
The whips we use are all pretty much the same, and regulated by the stewards. The only difference being the flex in the whip.plus the whips have padded poppers that make more noise than anything. 
Barbara Bowen More than 1 year ago
If this doesn't prove racing is genuinely tone deaf, I don't know what will.
Frank More than 1 year ago
what a joke -- its OK to drug a horse and mask injury which leads to breakdowns/death -- but there is rules for whipping???????

CA needs to just fall into the ocean and be done,
Chris More than 1 year ago
You're clueless.  Ok to drug a horse?  You do realize they test the horses.