Monmouth Park’s ‘no-whip’ rule sparks controversy

Imagine you’re driving in a NASCAR race at Talladega and abruptly you understand the steering wheel isn’t responding to your makes an attempt to barter the turns. When you look to your left and proper, you see that different drivers are also struggling to regulate their racing machines.

Sounds like a nasty dream, however it’s a tough analogy for the state of affairs confronting thoroughbred jockeys at New Jersey’s Monmouth Park as they try to navigate a brand new “no whip” rule imposed by the state’s Horse Racing Commission.

The rule — the strictest within the U.S. – permits jockeys to hold a driving crop however bars its use “except for reasons of safety.”

Hitting a horse to encourage it to run quicker and even waving the stick at a horse throughout a race — a standard approach used to maintain a mount targeted on operating — may end up in a $500 nice and/or five-day suspension for the primary offense, with the penalty probably doubling with every incidence, in line with Terry Meyocks, CEO of the Jockeys’ Guild.

No critical incidents have occurred within the first seven days of racing on the seaside oval, which opened its 53-day meeting on May 28. But Meyocks mentioned he considers that lucky, calling the rule handed down by the racing fee in September “irresponsible” and “dangerous.”

“It’s unfortunate for everybody, for our industry,” he mentioned of the rule, which Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, co-chair of the Jockeys’ Guild board, has in comparison with taking part in Russian roulette. Some high riders at Monmouth, together with “Jersey” Joe Bravo, Anthony Gallardo and Daniel Centeno, have mentioned they are going to journey elsewhere this summer season, with the previous saying he’ll shift his tack to Del Mar.

The guild has filed a lawsuit in search of to dam the rule, however its request for an emergency keep was denied and a court docket just isn’t anticipated to listen to the problem till later this year.

Kathy Guillermo, a senior vice chairman with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), doesn’t purchase the protection argument and mentioned the jockeys are ignoring rising public sentiment opposing the apply of whipping horses.

She pointed to a three-year examine in Australia that discovered banning using whips throughout races didn’t end in “statistically significant differences” when it comes to elevated danger, jockey conduct or race ending occasions.

“We do not have a problem with jockeys carrying a whip and, if they get in a situation, using it,” she mentioned. “… But the aspect of this that I don’t think the jockeys are thinking of is what it looks like to the public.”

Another necessary constituency within the debate is bettors, although it’s not but clear whether or not they are going to redirect their wagering {dollars} to different venues in response to the rule. Handle has been down within the early levels of the Monmouth meet, however dangerous climate and quick fields might have performed a task in suppressing wagering.

The parade of profitable favorites at Monmouth, which has seen the chalk win almost 48 p.c of all races heading into Friday’s card, additionally could also be an element.

This is all possible only a preview of the talk that can encompass the debut of the brand new federal Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act subsequent year. The act, authorized by Congress in December, created a federal physique to design and implement uniform nationwide remedy and security requirements, together with whip use.

Mike Brunker’s horse racing column seems Fridays. He may be reached at [email protected] or 702-383-4656. Follow @mike_brunker on Twitter.

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