California finalizes crop restrictions

California finalizes crop restrictions

A more restrictive rule governing use of the riding crop will go into effect Oct. 1 for all Thoroughbred, quarter horse, and mixed-breed races and during training in California. The amended rule is designed to further protect horses without compromising the safety of horses and riders.

The key revisions to California Horse Racing Board Rule 1688 include:

  • Riders cannot use the crop more than six times during a race, excluding showing or waiving the crop or tapping the horse on the shoulder.
  • Riders cannot use the crop more than two times in succession (within the six-time limit) without giving the horse a chance to respond before using the crop again.
  • The crop must be used in an underhanded position with the crop always at or below the shoulder level of the jockey.
  • During training the crop can only be used for the safety of horse or rider.
  • Absent mitigating circumstances, which includes but is not limited to use of the riding crop for the safety of horse and rider, if a jockey or exercise rider rides in a manner contrary to this rule, the stewards shall impose a maximum fine of $1,000 and a minimum suspension of three days. In trial heats, the suspension shall include the subsequent related stakes race.
  • The jockey or exercise rider shall not be penalized if, in the opinion of the stewards, the use of the crop was necessary for the safety of the horse or rider.
To ease the transition, stewards will meet with the jockey colonies at the respective tracks to explain the rule and to answer questions. In addition, the CHRB is recommending to the Boards of Stewards that they should for a reasonable period of time use the “mitigating circumstances” language to employ the current penalty structure – lighter penalties -- in order to make the transition to the amended rule less disruptive to jockeys, in particular, as well as all stakeholders and the wagering public generally.

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