Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Approve Proposed Crop Use Amendments

POSTED ON  |  24-06-2020

Jockey Whip
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's Safety and Welfare Committee and Rules Committee unanimously approved June 15 an amended rule that limited the use of the crop after the Jockeys' Guild and the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition brought different proposals to the table in a live streamed digital meeting. The two groups settled on jockeys being allowed to use the crop six times during a race after the first furlong, and only twice in succession before allowing a horse the chance to respond.

The six-strike rule amendment was proposed by the Jockeys' Guild and backed by jockeys Julien Leparoux, Mike Smith, and John Velazquez in the meeting. The Jockeys' Guild proposal followed one from the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition—whose founding members are Churchill Downs Inc., Keeneland, the New York Racing Association, The Stronach Group, Del Mar, and Breeders' Cup—that would allow jockeys five strikes, three times in succession before giving the horse a chance to respond.

Speaking of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition's proposal, Churchill Downs Inc.'s executive director of racing Mike Ziegler said: "We have allowed for the use of a crop at any time without penalty by a rider to avoid a dangerous situation. Now as long as a rider uses the crop at that point they can no longer persevere and need to pull up in the race, so if there's a real bad safety situation they can use the riding crop without penalty. We also allow in our proposal that the rider can use the crop in a back-handed or under-handed fashion at the start of a race. … We allow for the rider to tap the horse with the crop so long as both hands are on the rein and on the neck of the horse throughout the entire race."

The "start of the race" was defined as the first furlong during the meeting. "We can't be perceived as hitting horses. We can't hit horses anymore. That's the ultimate reason we're talking about this," said Ziegler.

The Thoroughbred Safety Coalition's proposal would not penalize jockeys for extra strikes if the crop is needed for safety, but the extra strikes will fall to the stewards' opinion. 

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