SHAKOPEE, MN – The Minnesota Racing Commission has instituted new rules regarding the use of the whip by jockeys on the track. The rule is based upon a similar rule recently put in force in California.
Executive Director Tom DiPasquale sees the new rule as progress toward presenting a racing product more acceptable to the public. “Excessive whipping is unappealing to the public. This rule emphasizes use of the riding crop for control and safety purposes and limits use of the crop to the least sensitive shoulder and hind quarters. It’s a rule whose time has come.”
The Minnesota Racing Commission Board of Stewards is also giving the new rule some teeth by instituting progressive fines. Chief Steward David Hooper stated, “The Board of Stewards believes this rule needs to be backed up by progressive penalties. We established a $200 fine for a first violation, $400 for a second violation, $800 for a third violation, and then an added suspension for the fourth violation and beyond. Since the new rule went into effect, we have handed down five rulings, but for the most part the jockey colony is doing a good job with the transition.”
As of July 23 there were 11 instances involving 9 different riders cited with violations of the new rule resulting in fines.
While not opposed to the new rule (the National Jockey’s Guild is supportive of guidelines), the implementation without any type of adjustment period has in the middle of a meet has concerned some jockeys. Many have been riding for decades and to start having to count strokes and strides or immediately get fined seems onerous. A “phase in” period where jocks could be warned and shown why they would have earned a fine may have been a way for regulators and jockeys to work together for smoother implementation.
Here is the text of the new rule: