As part of its ongoing commitment and leadership in the safety of horse racing, Woodbine Entertainment is proud to partner with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association of Ontario (HBPA) and the Jockey’s Benevolent Association of Canada (JBAC) on the new urging rule test period at Woodbine Racetrack starting on October 18 which will run through the remainder of the 2019 Thoroughbred Meet.
The new AGCO rule limits urging in Thoroughbred racing to underhand use of the crop only; allows no contact with the horse with the crop in the cocked position; and prohibits any hits to the horse’s belly or surrounding area.
“Woodbine Entertainment is committed to safety and being a leader of change for the betterment of the horse racing industry in Ontario and throughout North America,” said Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment, and who also was recently appointed to The Jockey Club Safety Committee (United States). “We are proud to partner with the AGCO, HBPA and JBAC on this important initiative that will surely have a positive impact on our sport and industry.”
Over the past several months, AGCO staff have met with key executive representatives from Woodbine Entertainment, the JBAC and the HBPA to discuss and build consensus on how best to amend these rules. This dialogue will continue throughout the remainder of the Woodbine race meet and will inform the AGCO’s evaluation.
Retired Hall of Fame jockey Sandy Hawley sees benefit to the rule change and using the “test period” as an important first step.
“I will always be very supportive of any improvement to horse racing that’s for the betterment of the sport and the safety of the horses and the riders,” said Hawley. “The test period is also a good idea that will provide everyone involved an opportunity to learn from the experience and help create a smooth and safe implementation of the new rule.”
Following the end of the Woodbine race meet on December 15, 2019, the AGCO will evaluate the effects of this change to determine if further revisions are necessary prior to full roll out at Woodbine and Fort Erie Racetracks for the start of the 2020 meet.
In order to facilitate the transition to the new rules, training materials and orientation sessions will be provided to participants and Race Officials. Special paddock meetings will be held for jockeys as they adjust their riding style to meet the new requirements.