According to a new rule approved by the California Horse Racing Board, jockeys competing in California won’t be allowed to strike a horse more than 6 times during a race, and then only in an underhanded position.
The rule will allow no more than two strikes in succession using whips that have to meet new board standards to soften the blows.
The board voted 4-2 in a meeting that lasted nearly seven hours on Thursday to approve the rule that was first proposed in March of last year. Commissioners Dennis Alfieri and Ale x Solis, a retired Hall of Fame jockey, represented the no votes.
Along with riders Mike Smith and Aaron Gryder, representatives from the Jockeys’ Guild, had urged the board to wait at least one month before voting in order to allow more time for a proposed national whip rule to be implemented.
However, board Chairman Gregory Ferraro disagreed by saying that California should set the tone in reforming how racehorses are treated instead of waiting for a national standard.
Meanwhile, Attorney Shane Gusman, representing the Jockeys’ Guild, said before the vote that whipping guidelines that were based on public perception would lead to the negative impact and potential accidents in the sport in California.
The Jockeys’ Guild responded in a later statement, addressing Ferraro’s comment about keeping the status quo by saying that nothing could be further from the truth and was beyond offensive. They completely recognize the need to change the existing use of the crop rules and the Guild had actively been engaging in meetings throughout the country, not only in California, in order to establish a uniform rule.
CHRB Rule 1688 will also prohibit the usage of whips during morning training as well as after the finish of races.
The rule must be reviewed by state officials and it may be October before it takes effect.