New Jersey Racing Commission adopts strict riding crop regulations

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Sept. 18, 2020

The New Jersey Racing Commission Sept. 16 approved regulations that prohibit use of the riding crop by jockeys or exercise riders except when necessary to control a horse to avoid the injury of the horse or rider. The regulations also authorize penalties and outline riding crop parameters.

The primary regulation, basically a ban on using the crop to urge a horse in a race, was proposed in late 2019. The new rules will not take effect until Monmouth Park begins its 2021 meet, most likely in May.

“The proposed repeal and replacement of (existing regulations) prohibits the use of the riding crop to encourage a horse to run faster under any circumstances,” states a summary included with the original regulation filing in 2019. “Protection of the equine participants is of the utmost importance and it is incumbent upon the New Jersey Racing Commission to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the racehorses that compete in this state.”

The summary cites “social impact” and “negative perception” of whipping as reasons for adopting the substantive changes in riding crop regulations.

The regulation prohibiting use of the crop states that jockeys or exercise riders may be suspended and/or fined by the stewards for violations, and “the jockey’s share of the purse shall be forfeited if, in the opinion of the stewards, the unauthorized use of the crop caused the horse to achieve a better placing.”

Several states in the Mid-Atlantic region, as part of an ongoing cooperative effort to adopt uniform rules and regulations, have adopted a more flexible riding crop policy that limits use of the crop to six strikes, no more than two in a row, from the quarter-pole to the finish. Jockeys are permitted to use the crop in underhand fashion from the start to the quarter-pole.

Daily Racing Form reported the Jockeys’ Guild is opposed to the new NJRC regulations.