Starting this weekend, those who violate NJRC 13:71-20.15 with regards to kicking will find themselves with a 7 day suspension. In addition to the suspension, violating the rule may find drivers on the outside looking in at the three Gural-operated racetracks (some boards have it a mandatory expulsion which is incorrect). Drivers who get a $100 or $200 fine for using the boot elsewhere may also find themselves on the outside.
Now realistically, I don't see any of the name drivers getting excluded the first time they run afoul of the rule; and I believe the same standard will apply to lesser known drivers. However, one hopes the threat of exclusion doesn't remain that, a policy which never will be implemented. Kicking, nudging, or whatever you want to call it is unacceptable. We can debate whether or not a horse feels pain from getting the 'boot' (it certainly isn't pleasant), but drivers who violate the rule while others obey it are not getting the most out of their horses, they are cheating. In addition, the visual is certainly improper.
[I must admit I am curious to know what happens in the event a driver violates the quoted rule not related to the improper use of the foot such as using the whip under the seat of the sulky (i.e., between the horses legs) as that too is an unpleasant visual for obvious reasons.]
Even without the threat of losing driving privileges, a suspension of seven days carries a lot more weight than a fine for while the Meadowlands races only two or three days a week depending on the time of year, not being able to drive elsewhere the rest of the week is going to hurt drivers in the pocket more so than a mere fine.
What makes this new policy even bolder is the fact some drivers, are going to pack up and head elsewhere instead of racing at the Meadowlands, especially those who have been on the fence regarding racing at the Meadowlands or more lucrative tracks. This is a case of right winning out over short term interests..
PTP talks about how Jeff Gural is standardbred racing's de facto commissioner. He may just be right.