Coming Down on Excessive Whippers, California Style

Racing’s apologists are fond of pointing to California’s new whip (actually it’s now called a “riding crop”) rule as evidence of an industry trying – progress. But putting aside the fact that the rule’s very existence is an admission that whipping racehorses is not (obviously) as innocuous as it’s been made out to be all these decades, there is a reason those same apologists are loath to mention the penalties for breaking said rule. Witness this from the most recent Santa Rosa Stewards Minutes:


“Jockey MARCIAL RAMIREZ who rode STARBUCK’S BABY in the first race at the Sonoma County Fair on Friday, August 7, 2015 is suspended three racing days for violation of California Horse Racing Board rule #1688 (Use of Riding Crop – used more than three times without giving the mule a chance to respond). The above ruling was issued for Ramirez 4th whip violation in less than 30 days. We have tried and tried to explain…but young Ramirez can’t seem to grasp the new rule. He says he knows, but just can’t seem to comply in the heat of the moment. Steward Nevin felt a fine of $750 was a more appropriate penalty.”

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Four violations in less than a month – suspended three days (and one thought even that was too steep). This is horseracing.

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  1. I believe the Golden Rule applies here, and I think that after one warning, a punishment that fits the crime is due. We are not so civilized that perhaps what you do to teach cannot be applied to your behavior as well…of course I prefer to just end horseracing, as we humans are not worthy of these fine animals.

  2. “a riding crop” eh – yes well perhaps the California Horse Racing Board needs to be reminded that a riding crop is used in pony club, dressage, show jumping, eventing, etc. and that “a whip” is used by jockeys in horseracing.
    Ah yes, let’s brainstorm, got to do something about public perception re whipping racehorses,
    especially after American Pharoah. We’ll get rid of the whip being called a whip and we’ll call it a RIDING CROP! All agreed? Oh what a brilliant idea – aren’t we a clever lot. Just put a line through whip and insert “riding crop” after it and make sure you underline it, got it? Well not really, someone forgot to put a line through WHIPS in the name of the document (undated).
    Nice try by the boys’ club but it will fail. The public are not stupid and when they see a jockey beat a horse with his whip, they will not call it “a riding crop” because it’s always been called a whip since horseracing began and that’s about 200 years ago in the modern world.
    Maybe, just maybe, the boys’ club is once again comparing the equestrian disciplines with horseracing. Hate to be the bearer of bad news boys but as you all well know there is no comparison. The equestrian disciplines are a real sport and horseracing is a gambling activity.
    A suggestion (do you allow a suggestion from a female?): BAN THE WHIPPING OF RACEHORSES and then you can concentrate on all the other stuff that goes on in a race, you know, like careless riding, electrical devices, horses being pulled up, race fixing, jockey not taking a very obvious run when he had the opportunity, etc. etc.

    PS: Rumour has it that when Espinoza was told of this amendment of Rule 1688 to the Whip Rules introducing a new word for the whip, he fell to the floor of the jockeys’ room in hysterics saying “they now want us to call it a what?” It’s an effing whip!


    TO ALL OUR LOYAL POSTERS: Within the last several days Mary Johnson has arranged to rescue a beautiful bay gelding named “Speak the Word”. He was in very bad shape, and his legs are a mess, and in urgent need of rescue, before he disappeared and ended up in slaughter. Mary was contacted as to the poor condition of this beautiful gelding, and the urgency of immediate action.

    Mary has made arrangements with Brenda Lewis of “Another Chance Equine Rescue” in Ohio, to take him, but only on the condition that we contribute 3 months board of $900., plus we would need to cover shipping costs. Mary has contributed the shipping costs of $265.00, I have contributed $300., Joy, and some of her contacts have contributed some money, and my sister has contributed $75. We believe we still need about $400.

    Any amount that you can contribute would be sincerely appreciated, you are saving a life and giving him a life free from suffering. “Speak the Word”, has an injury, and Brenda Lewis is excellent in caring for horses with injuries.

    If you can reach out and help us, please ask Patrick for my email address. I will email you Mary Johnson’s home address, where all the checks are to be mailed to. All checks should be made payable to “ANOTHER CHANCE EQUINE RESCUE”.

    Thank you from all of us who love these horses, and want to take action to save as many as we can, and for making this rescue possible.

    Marlene Thornley

  4. “Young Ramirez can’t seem to grasp the new rule”. In any business where one can’t grasp the rules, one is fired. His license should be revoked. He sounds like a hot head and should not have a whip to use on an animal.

  5. More on California and whipping…read these excerpts from an article (link provided below) and if you care about the welfare of our nation’s racehorses, you WILL be livid;

    “Days after two horses died just prior to the running of the Preakness Stakes thoroughbred race and despite critics expressing concerns about animal abuse, the California Horse Racing Board approved an increase in the number of times a jockey can whip a horse during the homestretch of a race.”

    The article continues…“Alexis Solis, the only active jockey to sit on the board, expressed his support for the four-strike limit, recounting a recent race in which his horse was tired and he hit her for a fourth time, despite the three-limit rule, and got her to win. He said he had to pay a $200 fine, but that it was worth it because he won the grand prize.”

    And…“Solis spoke before the board on the issue, saying that in that last 16th of a mile horses become tired. ‘I have to be very honest I’ve been in trouble a month ago because at 16th of a mile my horse got very tired…I hit her three times and I hit her one more time right at the wire and she just won by a nose. And I know if I wouldn’t have done that, it would have cost me the winner,’ Solis said.”

    Finally…”Commissioner Steve Beneto, in response to the story told Solis, ‘That’s what upsets me is, the horse it tired, he’s giving out and we’re sitting there encouraging them a whip. I think that’s cruel…better to lose the race than have someone abuse the horse.’ In response Solis said, ‘Yeah, but I don’t know if the bettors going to feel that way. So, I mean, we’re there to do a job.’”

    IT WAS WORTH IT – to whip a tired horse. IT’S A JOB. How can anyone NOT be enraged by Solis’ attitude? Anyone who CARES about the horses enslaved in this industry, that is?

  6. And I wanted to include this article – by racing industry writer Bill Finley (thank you, Jo Anne, for informing me of this article) – that’s a counter story to “California moves to allow jockeys to whip horses more”;

    I must say, KUDOS to Finley’s daughter…from the article; “Speaking on behalf of the Jockeys’ Guild, its western regional manager, Darrell Haire argued that being allowed to strike a horse four times in succession is not abuse. He might want to bring that up with my 15-year-old daughter. Brought up in a family where both parents work in the racing industry, she has zero interest in the sport and when asked why said it is because she doesn’t like to watch the jockeys beating the horses.”

  7. Thanks for these articles Joy.
    This industry and its antiquated business model of whipping/beating, doping, maiming, dumping, and dying has got to go!
    It’s blatant animal cruelty under the deception of fancy hats, mint juleps, million dollar farms, million dollar owners, and the “we LOVE our horses,” “we take care of our horses” scenario.
    It’s total deception from the start to finish line. From the stalls to the kill auctions, to the slaughterhouses. It’s all part of this business in order to fill races, and increase wagering revenue.
    All this money doesn’t justify the animal abuse, cruelty, pain, and suffering.
    Whether a racehorse is in a rich barn or a poor barn they still suffer the consequences.
    The rich barns are worse because they can afford the doping – and doping they do with rich owners sending their horses to multiple drug violating Trainers with extensive rap sheets including many racehorses dying in their care.
    This is a clear example of the hens watching the hen house.
    This entire industry is guarded by pro-horse racing people. The racing commissions never hire outsiders. You are hired if you uphold the horse racing industry and all of it’s abuses.
    If you question or challenge the existing abusive model then you get problems such as myself.
    When I was a Steward on the CHRB board I discovered a major cheating tactic of the late Bobby Frankel. I got it on tape.
    He was allegedly paying-off private vets to administer the Lasix (assuming it was Lasix) needle about 30 minutes out of a race while everybody else was following the rules and getting their Lasix 4 hours out. Bobby Frankel won the race.
    This was reported, and investigated. It turned into a fiasco because in this particular race there were other rich owners who lost so they hired attorneys, and they started digging into the records leading up to the race. There were multiple violations from vets smearing records to records filed without releasing the information to the public, etc. etc.
    The horse racing industries hero was no other than Scott Chaney! He performed character assassination on me which was on full public display in most major newspapers in California.
    He was promoted to head Steward shortly after this.
    These people will go to any lengths to ensure, and justify that the abuse continues.


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