Maryland Racing Commission implements riding crop rule

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Jan. 10, 2020

The Maryland Racing Commission implemened a riding crop rule Jan. 9 at Laurel Park that stemmed from discussions among members of the local riding colony and the stewards.

The jockeys and stewards had been discussing development of a rule given action taken in other jurisdictions over the past year in California, New Jersey and at Woodbine in Canada.

The rule reads as follows:

“A rider will be allowed to strike a horse no more than 10 times during the running of a race, with no more than three strikes in a row. A strike is considered a swing of the crop with the hand off of the rein or a downward strike from shoulder height with the hand on the rein.”

The minimum fine for an offense will be $500.

“Our jockey colony and the stewards came up with it,” MJC President Sal Sinatra said. “They’re trying to be proactive. Maybe this will be the first step and (other Mid-Atlantic jurisdictions) will adopt it.”

The Association of Racing Commissioners International, which has a model rule governing use of the riding crop, in December referred a proposed amendment submitted by The Jockey Club to ban use of the crop for encouragement to its Safety Committee for consideration along with alternative proposals.

The Jockeys’ Guild in December said it remains opposed to the elimination of use of the riding crop but for safety purposes. The organization also said it believes the industry can agree on a regulation that is safe and humane by allowing jockeys to use the crop in a controlled manner.