Despite world renowned Hall of Fame riders like Gary Stevens and Mike Smith publicly expressing concerns about riding in a horse race with no whips or riding crops, the CHRB and Stronach Group have decided to try it. On April 12th, 2019 Santa Anita will run without the riders having whips or riding crops. The Jockeys’ Guild is behind the experiment and sent the following letter to the CHRB:
“The Jockeys’ Guild and its board of directors have taken into consideration the tragic loss of horses since opening day at Santa Anita as well as the public’s perception and want to proceed in a way that is in the best interest of racing,” reads the letter. “After considerable discussion, the guild’s board of directors and members strongly feel that more research and dialogue is necessary in order to fully evaluate the consequences of implementing the proposed rule which is an extreme change from the existing rule.”
The experiment is obviously a lead in to the new policy which bans the use of whips for anything other than corrective measures. One would think a safer more meaningful experiment would have the riders try to ride following the new policy as opposed to without any whips at all. Some of these horses are used to the crop and respond to it. It would be nearly impossible to wager on a card like this at this point let alone the significant safety issues at stake. PETA is involved in what is happening at Santa Anita and it is hard to tell how these decisions are being made and by whom.