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Monday, May 7, 2012

New Whipping Rules in New Jersey

New Jersey has implemented new whipping rules in the state both at Freehold Raceway and the Meadowlands, based on the input of drivers, working in conjunction with the Meadowlands staff to cut down on whipping, and quite honestly, bring it back to the way it was years ago; whipping only on the sulky and the saddle pad; no direct contact with the horse.  These are temporary rules which will be evaluated at the end of the year where it will be decided whether or not the rule change should be made permanent or modified.

In summary, the rule change calls for:
  • Whipping above and between the sulky shafts.
  • One handed whipping only allowed on the sulky shaft and saddle pad.
  • Whipping a horse that is not advancing or out of contention is not allowed.
  • The whipping arm is not to go above the shoulder of the driver, nor behind him (no exagerated whipping).
  • Whip may not be put between the horse's legs, or used as a poking or goading device
  • No whipping after the race.
  • No one handed whipping the first quarter mile of a race.
  • No more than 3 strikes of a whip in a one handed method between the 1/4 pole and 7/8s marker and there must be a pause between each strike.
  • One handed whipping from the 7/8ths pole and the finish limited to six to eight strikes on the saddle pad or sulky shaft; no more than two before pausing.
Unlike the Ontario rule, there is no disqualification of the horse for violation of the whipping rule; it is all on the hands of the driver.  It will be interesting to see how penalties will be handed out.  The Meadowlands is considering new saddle paths to make it easier for drivers to comply with the new rules.

Public comment on the temporary rule is welcome.  The NJRC directive explains how comments are to be addressed.

Windsor Raceway is the first track in Canada announcing they will be closing as a result of the plan to end the Slots at Tracks program, closing effective August 31 , unless a new funding mechanism is in place.  It turns out the continued funding into March, 2013 is dependent on signing a new agreement with the lottery; something Windsor was unwilling to do without going to arbitration.  As a result, funding will remain in place until the slots are physically removed from Windsor (they are already shut down) which is scheduled for August 31.  Sadly, Windsor is only the first track to announce their ending of racing operations.

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