A new crop rule has been implemented under an expanded Model Crop Rule adopted and announced by the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) via an ARCI press release. Undew the new rule, jockeys will not be able to use the crop more than two consecutive times and must wait three full strides to give the horse a chance to respond.
The rule tightens restrictions that were already in place, but clearly states that the use of the crop to "urge" the horse must be limited. The rule relies on the judgement of the Stewards as to when to impose sanctions. Not waiting three strides, however, is a clear violation of the rule.
Ed Martin, President of RCI, noted that they utilized testimony from the Jockey Club as to public perception was taken to heart and the regulators found it compelling to address what a chance to respond should be.
"The image of someone wailing away on a horse coming down the stretch is not a good one for a sport struggling to assert a positive image. But controlled and limited use with three full strides to respond was something the regulators believed would help mitigate that," he said.
The RCI committees intend to develop progressive penalty guidelines in this area to ensure abuse of the horse in any way is severely addressed and that multiple violations are deterred across the system.
"We appreciate the input we have received on this issue from countless individuals and organizations like Breeders Cup, the Thoroughbred Safety Alliance, the Jockey Club, the AQHA, the Jockeys Guild and our regulatory veterinarians," said RCI Chair Tom Sage.
"We believe we have found a balance that protects the horse, mitigates perception problems, and maintains the essence of a sport where every horse runs its best in every race," he said.