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.)