08/14/2009 12:00AM

Ontario starting new whip rules


New rules involving the use of the whip in Ontario and new penalties for its misuse will go into effect on Sept. 1, the province's racing commission has announced.

Whips will have to be be cushioned, be no more than 30 inches in length, and have a padded noise-making "popper." Whips complying with the new rules were used in a one-month pilot project by Woodbine jockeys in the first two races of each card earlier this summer.

Use of a non-approved whip will lead to the disqualification of the horse.

Also, a horse cannot be hit with the whip more than three times in a row without being given time to respond, and the whip is not to be used when a horse is not visibly responding or is not in contention for a meaningful position.

Minimum penalties range from $200 for a first offense, $300 and a one-day suspension for a second offense within one year of the first, and $500 plus a three-day suspension for a third offense within one year of the first.

A fourth such offense would call for an immediate suspension and referral to the racing commission's director.

Special penalties may be imposed for whip infractions in races worth $100,000 or more, including minimum fines of 20 percent of a jockey's earnings. If the stewards find an offense worthy of a suspension, then the calculation will be one day for each $200,000 of total purse money.

Cases in which a horse has been cut or severely welted by the use of the whip automatically will be considered a third offense.

The process of developing the rules was announced by the Ontario Racing Commission one year ago. Working groups from the racing industry were established and submitted proposed changes which were approved this summer.