Just Everyday Cruelty…

In the most recent harness rulings, this at Yonkers Nov 2:

“While driving Straight Up Cool, Jason Bartlett was observed kicking his horse at the top of the stretch. This is Mr. Bartlett’s 4th such violation within a 365-day period and carries a penalty of $1,000 and a 10-day driving suspension.”

Not sure whether it was the 4th violation within a year or that it occurred in-race or whether it was the intensity of said kick, but kicking-a-horse incidents are typically filed under “Minor Penalties.” This one was under “Major.” Still, a mere 10 days.

Then the heavy hitters:

Dover, Nov 15: “Driver Eric Davis is fined $200 for whipping [2-year-old] Makemymommaproud after the finish.”

Hoosier, Nov 8: “While driving [2-year-old] Bluebird Alexis, Mike Peterson did cause welts. For this violation Mr. Peterson is fined $200. Mr. Peterson waived his right to a hearing and agreed to the penalty.” Of course he did – what a deal. And why that deal? It’s Indiana, folks: “Penalty was mitigated because he was within the whipping guidelines.”

Hoosier, Nov 10: “While driving Pekeson N, Marvin Luna did cause welts. For this violation Mr. Luna is fined $200.” (Yes, his penalty, too, was “mitigated.”) Luna, by the way, had been busted in Maine just two weeks prior for “indiscriminate use of whip.” There, he was fined $500 and suspended five days. How’s that for consistency across state lines?

And finally, this from Charles Town last night: Although “reluctant to load” and then “fractious in the gate,” 3-year-old Push was still forced to race. She then proceeded to “hit the rail midway through the turn,” eventually finishing 37 lengths back. But because CT is a racino with plenty of unearned money to throw around, Push’s exploiters – Robert McCutchen, Michael Jones – still cashed in. Those same exploiters, turns out, had raced poor Push just one week earlier. No wonder she was “reluctant” and “fractious.”

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  1. Is anyone from the United States Trotting Association paying any attention to how these repeat offenders are making their Blood-$PORT look?
    Does anyone from the USTA care how this kicking a horse during a race reflects on harness racing?
    I believe it’s a no-brainer that it doesn’t matter much to these die-hard horse exploiters how the horses are suffering from this abuse; it just doesn’t look good as far as outward appearances are concerned.
    Can we get a video to show thousands of people what it looks like for a driver to kick his racing harness horse during a race?

  2. Best I can tell, the USTA is pretty good at coming down on bad actors. But individual state racing authorities are pathetic.

  3. When I was actively betting on the races, I paid little attention to purse structure, jockey’s salaries, or winning payouts [other than the pari-mutuel betting pools] because, as a bettor, it did not affect me in the slightest.

    I bring this subject up on this link because I’m sure most folks on this site are unaware of how purse structure affects a race’s outcome, and, in turn, a jockey’s [usually abhorrent] behavior. In most thoroughbred and standard bred races , the winning entry will net 60%- 70% of the purse; while the winning jockey will usually take home 10% of that.

    So, in a race with a $100,000 purse, the winning connections will earn about $60,000, to $70,000, while the winning jockey will bring home $6,000 or $7,000. With payoffs like that on the line, most jockeys will do whatever is necessary to cross the wire first, no matter how much harm it brings to the horse they’re riding. And fines like $200, $500 or even $1,000 are simply, to them, the “costs of doing business.”

    Financially speaking, sure, this makes perfect sense. Morally and ethically, though, these people are completely bankrupt.

    Another reason why I quit the races.

    • In flat track Thoroughbred racing, the jockey named Irad Ortiz, Jr. is a prime example of what you are talking about, Joe.

  4. Overworking horses is counterproductive to safety. Does that pathetic sham known as HISA have anything to say about it?!
    And as long as states and even individual tracks continue to dance to their own tune, racing will remain the fragmented mess that it is with no rules to protect the horse from all kinds of abuse.
    The need for an national governing body with universal rules and standards along with meaningful consequences for infractions is the 500 pound gorilla…

  5. Some of these violations seem to me like jockeys and drivers simply venting their anger on the horses. It makes me sick.

    • Teresa, I agree. Some people are just plain sadistic anyway. Many times there have been comments on this site about jockeys whipping the horses when they are far behind most or all of the horses in the race and don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of finishing in the top three let alone winning.

      • Some jockeys can tell that the horse they’re riding in a race is, in a manner of speaking, out of gas, and that, realistically speaking, there is no point in continuing to use the whip. I’m not sure how many jockeys are savvy enough to know when to stop whipping the horse that just doesn’t have anything left to give as far running in a given race. It appears that a lot of them don’t care what the horse has or doesn’t have, they are going to make a big show of pretending to earn whatever the trainer is paying them to be that whip-wielding rider.
        It is absolutely sickening!

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