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:
RAMIREZ RULING [8/8/15]
“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.”
Four violations in less than a month – suspended three days (and one thought even that was too steep). This is horseracing.