Kentucky Horse Racing Commission adopts rules limiting whip use

Kentucky Horse Racing Commission adopts rules limiting whip use
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approved new rules and penalties restricting the use of riding crops by jockeys.

Jockeys will be allowed unlimited backhand or underhand strikes for the first 1/8 of a mile, to adjust the direction of their mounts. After that, they are allowed six strikes, with no more than two in succession followed by an opportunity for the horse to respond.

Recognizing that additional strikes might be required in the interest of safety, the commission agreed that in such a case, it will be up to the stewards to determine whether the use was appropriate. The commission decided not to include language that would require jockeys to pull up their horse in such a case.

Penalties would include fines and suspensions on an escalating scale.

Terry Meyocks, president and CEO of the Jockeys’ Guild, said before the vote that the goal is for other jurisdictions to adopt the rules.

“Kentucky is the horse capital of the world, and it’s our belief that Kentucky should be the leader on this and hopefully take the first step to get a universal, national rule which is in everybody’s best interest," Meyocks said.

Bob Elliston, vice president of racing and sales for Keeneland, noting “unanimity” among the members of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, said before the vote that they felt the proposed rule “would be something that I think every single jurisdiction in the United States could move forward with as well as most of what’s being discussed in international jurisdictions in Europe.”

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