09/02/2014 1:49PM

House rule limits whipping at Santa Anita

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Jockeys at Santa Anita will be restricted to whipping a horse three times in succession before trying something else to urge the horse, a whip rule mirroring those of Europe and to be instituted at the beginning of the fall meeting starting Sept. 26, according to officials at Santa Anita and the Jockeys’ Guild.

The rule would be a house rule, enacted and enforced by Santa Anita with the cooperation of the state racing board-appointed stewards assigned to that meet. However, the California Horse Racing Board is expected to discuss and potentially adopt the rule statewide in the coming months.

“The Jockeys’ Guild came to us and the California Horse Racing Board and asked about a house rule, for the good of the game,” Tom Ludt, the president at Santa Anita, said Tuesday. “From Santa Anita’s perspective, we said we’d be willing to support it. We think it’s a wonderful thing. It’s good for the horse, and it’s good for public perception.”

Ludt acknowledged that one of the reasons Santa Anita is willing to institute a house rule in advance of a formal racing-board rule is to have it in effect prior to the Breeders’ Cup, which will be held at Santa Anita on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.

According to Darrell Haire, a former rider who is the local representative of the Jockeys’ Guild, jockeys would be allowed to hit a horse three times in succession, then would have to wait and see if the horse responds before whipping anew.

“It’s one-two-three, then they’d have to push on them or switch sticks but not keep hitting on them,” Haire said. “It’s all about encouragement. We don’t feel we have a problem. But we don’t think hitting a horse repeatedly, without waiting for a response from the horse, is acceptable.”

Asked if he felt the local riders needed the rule because they were being overly aggressive, Haire said no.

“It’s perception more than anything, but perception is reality,” he said.

Haire said local jockeys had been consulted during the current Del Mar meeting about the upcoming rule. He said there will be film reviews, including encouragement and coaching to adhere to and become accustomed to the pending rule, before it officially goes into effect.

“We’ve been working with the stewards and the racing board for the good of the game,” Haire said. “This is something that’s coming, so we’d rather work with the industry and try to adopt a rule in good faith. We’re trying to do the right thing.”

Local riders five years ago were required to switch to a whip that is said to be kinder to the animals, with a long, padded popper that conveys the urgency of the situation to the horse by the popping sound it makes and as much as being struck on the hindquarters.

According to Haire, the vast majority of the local riders are supporting the new rule. But veteran rider Martin Pedroza called the new rule “ridiculous,” saying each horse is different, and that some horses respond to more aggressive handling.

“I ride for a lot of guys, trainers and owners, who, if they finish third or fourth, it makes a difference,” Pedroza said. “Trifectas, superfectas, I’m riding for the bettors. I want to be able, if I need to, to hit a horse one-two-three-four.”

F.a. Sinatra More than 1 year ago
Late late late, and not enough. Martin, if you were a better horseman, you would know that a whip is for keeping horses running straight and that they will give you what you ask if you know how. For every horse responding to you in fear, there are two who will tail-pop and stop responding at all, and they will never give you their best that way.
Sally Rivera Rogers More than 1 year ago
The new whips are not as harsh are the old whips. Riders have enough to think about than counting one two three, switch. Good riders should not pay for what bad riders do. I worry more when a rider just sits on my horse than one that uses his whip.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The trainer should be in charge if he wants his horse encouraged so be it . PETA is not paying the bills they should butt out get a life . This has been going on since horses became trainable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
most horses will not give there all without encouragement I don't think the horse feels it anyway . These animals were bred to race . Whats worse whipping down the stretch or killing them to eat. Stop people from eating meat why don't you.
Michael Mollica More than 1 year ago
I agree 100% with martin Pedroza....Im an owner that might need that 3rd place finish to pay training bill and Vet bill...the popper on the whip is padded ..
Chris Evers More than 1 year ago
This argument makes no sense though, because the rider on your horse wouldn't be the only one playing by the new rules. If everyone plays by the same rules then nobody is disadvantaged, and you have the same chance to get a 3rd-place finish as you did previously.
Lawrence Macselwiney More than 1 year ago
How did I know Martin Pedroza would be the one jockey quoted as being against this rule. There may be others and I am sure they're out there, but I knew Martin would have a problem with this. He's the Robert Sleeth of thoroughbred racing.
William Norton More than 1 year ago
Why--because he actually tries and says what's on his mind?
F.a. Sinatra More than 1 year ago
Because he has no respect. For the animal, or for the game, or for himself.
Ann Maree More than 1 year ago
The standard cannot ever be the interests and welfare of the bettors, owners, etc., trump those of the welfare of the horse. We cannot tolerate a society that permits mistreatment of our equine athletes for the benefit of a bettor or an owner. Neither of those stakeholders has the right to mistreat an animal to further their goals.
Chris Evers More than 1 year ago
Something about the fact that whipping even still exists is an indication that horse racing is behind the times. How can the sport attract new and younger fans when mindsets and perceptions about cruelty have changed, and breakdowns and whipping (even the word 'whipping' is archaic and brutal) are viewed as unacceptable? Horse racing is like an old-guard supermarket or fast-food chain in an era of Whole Foods and Chipotle. And Pedroza's argument is flawed -- if he can't hit a horse one-two-three-four, but none of his rivals can either, where is the disadvantage?
Robin Cardoza More than 1 year ago
Its called a crop and using it as an aid in most horse disciplines is necessary. The only reason the public has ignorant mind sets and misperceptions is because Americans in general know zero about farm animals and horses these days. They're too busy at shopping malls and watching tv to get a clue.
michael More than 1 year ago
I agree with Martin Pedroza....They've already made the whip better, which I did agree with but now we bettors are going to be disappointed if our horse loses by a nose and we thought the Jock didn't keep riding him. This is what happens when you forget who is most important to your business, the regular bettors or PITA....
nancyb More than 1 year ago
PITA is bread
Matthew Hood More than 1 year ago
Nice! Gold star for that.
Lawrence Macselwiney More than 1 year ago
I love Pita. Especially with chicken and salsa.
Mikethemessenger465 More than 1 year ago
I think there ought to be acceptable exceptions, such as if a horse is dangerously out of control. In such a situation the race ought to be a forfeit for that horse and jockey, but there should be no sanctions against the jockey.
Matthew Hood More than 1 year ago
What happens if a jock whips 4 times in a row and it gets the horse up for the win? Jock gets fine and suspension for doing his best to win? I think the rule is good natured and well meant, but you will leave a lot of decisions up to CHRB, and I sometimes question their motives when it comes to certain jocks and trainers.