09/22/2014 11:51AM

Santa Anita to await CHRB ruling on whipping

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Santa Anita, in a change of plans, will not institute a house rule regarding whipping at its meeting that begins on Friday and will instead await the California Horse Racing Board vote on a proposed statewide rule at its monthly meeting Nov. 20, Tom Ludt, the president of Santa Anita, said in a letter sent late last week to Rick Baedeker, the executive director of the racing board.

Ludt earlier this month said Santa Anita, working in conjunction with the Jockeys’ Guild, was set to implement a house rule regarding whipping at its upcoming race meeting. But subsequent to that, the racing board announced it would debate and potentially vote on a new rule at its November meeting. In light of that development, Ludt thought it best to wait so that the rule “is consistently applied throughout the California circuit,” he wrote in his letter to Baedeker.

“Santa Anita does want to reiterate though that it fully supports this amendment to the riding crop rule,” Ludt wrote, adding he hopes the rule “closely mirrors that of the international community.”

The rule that Santa Anita was set to implement, and that the racing board will debate, would limit a jockey to hitting a horse three times in succession before trying something else to urge the horse. Darrell Haire, a former rider who is the local representative of the Jockeys’ Guild, said local jockeys had been consulted recently about the upcoming rule.

If adopted, as expected, this would be the second adjustment to whipping for California jockeys in recent years. 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.