By now, I’m sure most of you have heard about New Jersey’s new (this year) “stringent” whip restrictions – to be used “only for safety reasons.” It is, the Racing Commission boasts, the first of its kind in the nation. (The bettors apparently didn’t like it so much: Monmouth’s average daily handle this summer was down some 17% over last year.) For the jockeys, however, prohibiting their ability to “encourage” was akin to blasphemy. So, at least one enterprising chap went old school. A recent ruling from Monmouth:
“As a result of the evidence and testimony presented in the administrative hearing conducted on September 11 and continued on September 15, the Board of Stewards find that: Jockey Tomas Mejia rode the horse ‘Strongerthanuknow’ in the 7th race at Monmouth Park on September 3, 2021; upon entering the winners circle [yes, Stronger ‘won’] and prior to dismounting, Tomas Mejia was in possession of a prohibited electrical device.” Mejia’s credo: If you can’t whip ’em, shock ’em.
In this instance, the Commission got it right: “Jockey Tomas Mejia is hereby suspended for a period of ten years and fined the sum of $5,000. The period of suspension shall begin on September 10, 2021, and continue through and including September 9, 2031. [Almost laughably, Mejia has the full ten years to pay the fine.] In addition to the penalty issued herein, the Board of Stewards…recommends the permanent revocation of Mr. Mejia’s New Jersey Racing Commission license.”
Career, effectively, over. Still, I’m sure some of you are wondering why this was not charged and prosecuted as animal abuse per NJ law: “torment, torture…unnecessarily or cruelly abuse; inflict unnecessary cruelty upon a living animal or creature,” etc. The answer is quite simple: The state – as represented by police, prosecutors, and courts – maintains a hands-off policy on industries that use animals; those industries basically police themselves (and yes, the NJ Racing Commission is a subsidiary of NJ Horseracing). In other words, no real justice forthcoming. This miscreant may have to find a new line of work, but he’s still a free man, which means he’s free to find other kinds of animals to abuse, or he can simply find a gig jockeying horses at facilities not regulated by the Commission. So again, no justice, no victory.