California: Go Ahead, Whip Your Tired Horses

The California Horse Racing Board has approved a measure that will increase – yes, increase – the number of times a jockey is allowed to strike his horse down the stretch. Currently, jockeys must wait for a “response” after three consecutive strikes of the “riding crop”; the new rule will make it four, at least over the last 16th of a mile. The measure passed 4-3; the deciding vote, says CBS/SF, came from active jockey Alexis Solis. Beyond the ridiculous conflict of interest, there is this (CBS):

Solis…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.

“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.

Commissioner Steve Beneto, in response to the story told Solis, “That’s what upsets me is, the horse is 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.”

Mr. Solis, while I despise what you do, I commend your frankness. And appreciate it: By openly admitting that winning trumps “equine welfare,” that a jockey has an ethical responsibility to the bettors, you have indicted your trade far better than I ever could.

So, thank you.

(By the way, Solis’ case is not an anomaly: This month alone, says the article, 14 jockeys have violated the CHRB rule, many choosing to willfully defy after weighing potential wins against paltry fines.)

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  1. Scum. Look at Victor Espinoza who won the Triple Crown on American Pharoah. Before he won the 1st leg, on the same @ Churchill Downs he was excessively using his whip & as Patrick has reported here’s another . He was on the Dancing With the Stars & flaunted his WHIP! LMAO I doubt he has much else. Get the scum off of these beautiful animals, get these horses off the track! Collateral damage will be expected :(

  2. This is clearly a step backwards. We have taught many kinds of horses to ride, although mostly thoroughbreds. We NEVER used whips or spurs to teach them to go forward. We teach them to be ridden through trust and mutual respect and a willingness to try different things. We have given up on racing because of all the abuses we have witnessed, We have seen young horses being BEATEN into galloping down the track in efforts to BREAK them for riding, traditional rough stock methods,UGH! We were always appalled by these methods. On that same track we later brought our own home bred thoroughbred two -year-old who went everywhere we asked including the manure disposal barn with smooth concrete floor. We rode him EVERYWHERE! The horse people were scared to death of him! He was the easiest horse we ever taught to gallop on the track! We never touched him with a whip or spurs as we didn`t carry any! Of all the only so called professional horse people there we only were able to have the old outrider of the track and an older woman trainer ride with me on the training track or the main track. Jim and Anne knew that we had a VERY well behaved young horse at their facility. That is because we had thoroughly taught him at home by riding in our neighborhood farm roads and accustoming him to equipment, trucks, cars etc. We personally would like to see this track go away as it is becoming cheaper and cheaper in the care provided to the horses. A sign of inferior care is when a facility goes to shavings , wood pellets for bedding as it seems more and more tracks are doing. A very prominent breeder in our area found out the hard way after losing many horses/ foals to colic and digestive problems about the real costs associated with trying to take short cuts in bedding labor costs. His farm has since went back to using straw for bedding as it wasn`t worth the savings in labor costs to lose his clients foals or his own breeding stallions to colitis!

    • Joan and Fred Booth, I so appreciate you coming forward on this blog and I experienced the same things you speak of here and in the past. Unless you are on the the backstretch of a track every day, I don’t know that people can fathom the utter disregard for the horses and the win-at-all costs attitude. I put my true story into my book, Saving Baby, but my book could not contain all that I witnessed as I was cautioned that no one would buy it. No one would want to cry chapter after chapter. Still, written as is, it has helped make people aware of what is going on in racing and I’m sure you’d relate to everything in there.

  3. And Wayne Pacelle of the HSUS is pro-racing and believes that racing can be done humanely yet why didn’t he write something on his HSUS blog outraged at this reversal? Not a word from the HSUS, however, a racing writer did write a piece condemning this CHRB rule change! For shame, HSUS, for shame!! Supporting horseracing with the word “humane” in the name of your organization is public deception and betrayal of the horses that so need our collective voices. Here’s Bill Finley’s article:

    With publicly stating the bettors mean more than the horse in the race and a vote then passes to increase whipping, I don’t want to hear any more about how many “good people” are in racing or that the horses “love to run”.

  4. What if we just outlawed whipping at all??
    What if all the horses were totally handridden by excellent skilled riders? What if the winning horse WAS the “runningest” horse???

    I guess maybe if we were to stop and put this into human terms:

    We’re athletes, runners….. We don’t run fast enough or far enough to please our trainers… How many times is it ok for them to whip us?

    We are chasing cows around and need to turn faster! Sharper! How many times is it ok to spur us?

    We No longer are good for anything…too old and or injured…. Let’s put us onto trucks and ship us away to be brutally murdered…..

    Oh, wait a minute…. Didn’t someone already do this???

    Choose “humanity” …. Choose life.

  5. This is what I have been saying all along. The racing industry cannot oversee themselves. From doping, abuse, breakdowns, and the effort to keep it under wraps. Keep commenting, keep sharing, sign the petitions that you come across, trust me, the industry is feeling it. Write to legislatures sponsoring decoupling in racing states. What I have seen and heard in the industry is the anger to this exposure on social media and media outlets. They encourage each other not share any media that paints racing in a bad way. Share Share Share, and comment. Support Patrick ( I cannot express the importance of his work. Especially when the Jockey Club has downplayed statistics in racing deaths) Again, support Patrick, and Horseracing wrongs. It will have to take more than a village, to put a stop to this.

  6. How?Why? can this industry be getting away with animal cruelty – blatant animal cruelty.
    Moreover, this is happening in California?!
    What’s going on?
    Victor E is a horse beater, and has been throughout his cruelty career.
    The entire cruelty abyss is filled with jockey beaters. It’s an entire culture of beating a tired/sore horse while people look on.
    This is not family entertainment nor is it a sport.
    The entire industry is a cruelty circus, and death camp.
    If this ruling doesn’t show the public just how far gone this industry is then nothing will!
    How can an industry, in 21st century California, be allowed to institutionalize and legalize animal beating?
    You know what?
    This industry is flexing its muscles, shoving the dirt in animal activists/advocates faces while they laugh, and beat the horses.
    The entire state of California should boycott horse racing.
    Anybody who participates, supports, and defends this animal cruelty, and abuse is masochistic.
    SHAME on you all.

  7. Jo Anne had shared a counter story (by racing writer Bill Finley) to this newest approved-abuse of the racehorses in California.

    Finley states: “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.”

    Smart young lady.

  8. Brian Moore, a Pennsylvania kill buyer, currently has in his possession a TB gelding whose tattoo (if read correctly) identifies him as Dr. Mohrbacher. This poor gelding was once owned and trained by the duo that owns/trains this year’s KD winner. Just goes to show, doesn’t it, that NO HORSE enslaved in this industry is safe from a horrific ending. I’ll say it again…this gambling industry SETS HORSES UP for ultimate failure and a bad ending.

    • Well said Joy – and 100% correct.
      Up until their horrific demise they are living in pain, suffering, and under the whip.
      For me, the most accurate description of horse racing is: cruelty circus, and death camp.

    • What’s going to happen to Dr. Mohrbacher?
      Can anybody afford to cough up the money to rescue him?
      I certainly can’t.
      The connections should be contacted and give the money to get him out of the kill buyers hands.
      Where are all the “good” folks of horse racing?
      You know – the ones who come on this blog and talk about how they are good?
      Where are they now?

    • I hope this is made public…the truth in this industry is dark and ugly

  9. Whipping should NOT be allowed at all. You can urge your horse with your stirrups. Just push them out several times in a row.They get the idea quickly. I NEVER had to use a whip or spurs on any of my horse friends. A
    real… equestrian …should know this. And just because you want a race horse doesn’t mean the horse is suted for it. Maybe a jumper or stock horse, cutting or any number of things. Don’t be a selfish… … … Think of the horse for a change.

    • Agree with you Pat. The jockeys refuse to lengthen their irons and prefer to ride with the whip with their feet up near their backsides. Watching the way these racehorses are abusively ridden and mercilessly beaten with whips inflicting both physical and psychological pain when they’re tired and already running as fast as they can, is sickening and INHUMANE!

  10. With reference to Dr. Mohrbacher, why not demand of Wayne Pacelle and the Humane Society of the United States who are pro-racing and believe strongly that they can make horseracing “humane” start doing just that and rescue this horse? Keith Dane is head of Equine Protection. Here’s his email:

    Afterall, the CHRB by increasing the number of times a horse can be whipped, just proved that Wayne’s statements that I first read last summer in the Paulick Report that he believed racing could be made more humane shows that their “work” has resulted in MORE abuse not less.

  11. A few days ago Wayne Pacelle was interviewed on NPR concerning animal welfare. There were a few callers with questions. I tried to call in with a question re. how his “partnership” with the racing industry was working for the horse !

    Concerning Dr. Morhbacher: he was purchased, as a 2 yr. old by Dennis O’Neill for $300,000. He was trained by Doug O’Neill for the owner, Reddam. However, he did not live up to expectations and entered the claiming ranks. At one point he was trained by Wesley Ward. In his last race, on 2/28/2010 at Gulfstream, he was owned by CLJ Racing Stables and Fazia B. Lyn Stables, INC. The trainer was Wilfredo Melendez. Neither the trainer or the owners appear to be active in the business now. Also, the farm Plum Creek in KY, where Dr. Morhbacher was bred does not appear to be operating now..

    As we know, the O’Neill Reddham partnership has been very lucrative. And Reddam made even more money when he sold, I’ll Have Another, his 2012 Derby and Preakness winner to Japan. Further, he purchased the horse for $30, 000 ! The partnership is set to rake in a lot more money with Nyquist.

    My point is, why can’t Reddam, make a gesture of goodwill and get Dr. Morhbacher away from the kill buyer, Brian Moore ??

  12. Another point to whipping an already tired horse. This is also where injury and bleeding can occur. The horse is already tired, pushed to their limit, and yet is expected to do more. When horses start dropping back in a race it is because of fatigue, lameness, bleeding, not due to laziness. It is a shame that when given a chance to do the right thing, Solis and others chose not to. I have this to say to the racing industry…I don’t miss any of you.

    • Towards the end of my training career I despised this industry so much I couldn’t stand it anymore.
      I couldn’t stand watching the ongoing cruelty, abuse, doping, maiming, dying, and dumping.
      I could no longer participate in this ugly antiquated business model.
      What I found particularly discerning is that many people in the industry are so desensitized to it that they think it’s okay!
      They actually convinced themselves that there are “good” people participating in this industry.
      They are living a delusion that the aspects of this business model is totally acceptable because, after all, they are “good” people.
      For example, I directly witnessed at the Ft. Erie Racetrack in Ontario, Canada extremely sore, lame racehorses being whipped onto the track for training on a daily basis. I saw horses with no bedding. I saw horses that desperately needed vet care that they never got. In one example, there was a racehorse who broke down during training and it took the vet over 1 hour to reach the horse, and put it out of its misery. Most vets won’t work there because they don’t get paid so, at the time, there was 1 vet on the entire backside. Evidently, he was busy tending to yet another life and death situation with another racehorse at the time he was needed on the track for humane euthanasia.
      Many of these racehorses came out of the barns of the “rich and famous” top trainers/owners at Woodbine Racetrack. After they are done with them (meaning no longer profitable with vet bills exceeding income) they were dumped at Ft. Erie which is just another B track dumping ground for Woodbine racehorses for the most part.
      I know of 2 owner/trainers that were collecting welfare payments, unable to pay their rent, owning/training racehorses. I felt so sorry for the racehorses in many of the barns there. They were living a horrific existence. I had many trainers, the last time I was there, come over and ask for some oats, hay and/or bedding for their horses. I ended up financially supporting many of the racehorses there. It was insanity. All of this being supported by taxpayers.
      At the end of the meet, there were many unwanted racehorses. In one instance, about 6 racehorses were dumped into a field, and left there! I had one wife complain to me (her husband owner/trainer) that they couldn’t even afford to buy their kids boots for the winter, and he was training a horse! She said she was so disgusted with this industry – she hated it. She asked me how can a person justify being involved with this industry to the extent that they are denying both their horses, and children basic care?
      I provide these example to show just how delusional people become in this industry. This is very common. Much more common than you think.
      The most sad part of this entire scenario is that racehorses are suffering or dying every day for this cruelty circus, and death camp.
      This is the real world of horse racing.

  13. Well this explains why I see Anthony adamo training there (yes the same adamo that trained for Mike gill at penn national and I’m sure we’re all well aware of how that went .david wells the trainer from penn indicted server jail time for race rigging and illegal drugging is training at Presque isle in Erie pa under the name John David wells it used to be under David j wells Murray rojas. Has inditments coming her way from the same scandal meanwhile her husband Eduardo rojas is still training there wow. Way to do your jobs racing commisions when the hell does the stupid shit end I can’t wait for the day to watch your industry drown in your own immoral values you people don’t need us that are against it yous do a fine job killing your industry yourself you guys can’t hide your bullshit anymore to many people are aware to many people see and too many people read your stupidity daily

    • Billy, Thanks for pointing out a few facts.
      I couldn’t agree with you more.

  14. God forgive me for being a gullible horse racing fan. Each of those whipping jockeys should be whipped until they bleed. 319 dead horses. Welcome to the most hyp·o·crit·i·cal country in the world. And cigarettes are good until the very last breath.

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