Trainer JJ Graci on New Whip Rules In Horse Racing

October 25, 2019

Horse Racing’s New Whip Rules

Feature Image Courtesy of Steve Heuertz

 I was reading a article about how Woodbine Race Course is going to try and implement some new whip rules. Now New Jersey is also changing whip or crop rules. California has already done it. All the new rules restrict or limit a jockey and the use of the whip or riding crop.

Here is my take on this issue. It’s very dangerous and here is why. The whip or riding crop is a useful and important tool for a jockey. You have a 1000 pound race horse tweaked and sitting on go the majority of the time. You have a 100 pound jockey riding the horse. The horse is 10 times heavier and 10 times stronger and all the rider has is a riding crop to correct him. The jockey needs this tool to keep control at what can be a fast pace and in a crowded field or herd.

You can’t really compare European racing and their whip or riding crop rules to ours. Their paces are generally slower, and their horses usually only run the last part of a race and are trained to go the last part with a flick of the reins. You can do that in slower paced races where the running takes place principally towards the wire.

If you have ever ridden a race or even ridden a pleasure horse that needs some schooling, you know your voice and pulling on the reins only goes so far. You need to get the horse’s attention, and proper use of a crop can be a good way to do it.  Head him into a wall and you both go down. I’ll admit I’ve never ridden in a race but I have galloped enough horses to know that whip saved me more times than I can count. 

Why do you use a whip for safety? To school and urge them in a race. Horses lug in and lug out… you need a whip to correct them. Listen, if my horse is in a drive and has a chance to win, I want the jockey to get the best out of the horse. Horses need urging, they don’t have a gas pedal or brakes. All the jockey has is a riding crop and a big heart riding a 1000 pound horse going 35 MPH. You want to take that away from him? That’s a potential disaster waiting to happen. 

I’ll admit there are jockeys that over use a whip but why punish the other jockeys for a few offenders? Fine the jockeys who misuse a whip and suspend them, they will get the message.

We can be strict with this but not take away the protective and corrective need for a riding crop.

See you at the races! 

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Contributing Authors

JJ Graci

JJ was born in Philadelphia, Pa.  and attended Villanova University. He has vast experience in horse racing and broadcasting. JJ has been a fixture in...

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