Maryland Racing Commission adopts new riding crop policy

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: June 26, 2020

The Maryland Racing Commission June 25 unanimously approved a new riding crop policy widely accepted by other jurisdictions in the Mid-Atlantic region after months of discussion.

The policy, developed through compromise and input from various stakeholders, allows for six strikes of the whip—no more than two consecutive strikes—from the quarter pole to the finish. Jockeys will be able to use the crop in underhand fashion from the start of a race to the quarter pole.

MRC Executive Director Mike Hopkins said the MRC will direct the stewards to implement the policy Aug. 1 at Laurel Park. The current Maryland policy, devised by the stewards and implemented in January 2020, allows for 10 strikes, no more than three in a row.

“We have consensus from Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia to adopt the new policy going forward,” Hopkins said. “The intention is not to eliminate use of the whip but bring it under control.”

Representatives of each state meet regularly to discuss various aspects of the Mid-Atlantic Strategic Plan to Reduce Equine Fatalities.

A penalty system for crop use endorsed by Mid-Atlantic stakeholders will be brought before the MRC in the future. The penalty system, which is similar in structure to the Multiple Medication Violation Penalty System under the National Uniform Medication Program, will require a regulation.

The Mid-Atlantic riding crop policy, which was considered by the Association of Racing Commissioners International Model Rules Committee, is available here.

(Laurel Park photo courtesy of Jim McCue)