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.

A ruling handed down yesterday from the Prairie Meadows Board of Stewards:

“Jockey Daniel Ruiz Amaya was duly notified on September 24 for an alleged violation of excessive whipping of his horse ‘Sassalitical’ during the running of the 4th race. Amaya did not appear for his hearing on September 25. The Board finds Amaya’s use of the whip excessive and in violation of 491 IAC 10.5(2)(J)(4). Therefore, the Board hereby suspends Amaya from riding races for three race days.”

All fairly mundane, but then this:

“The Board notes this is Amaya’s fourth offense for whipping during the 2021 Prairie Meadows race meet.”

This wretch is found guilty of animal abuse – for what else to call “excessive whipping”? – four times at one track just since May, and is only suspended, and for but three days at that. The lie of “Racing Cares” exposed, again.

In August, I chronicled James Jungquist’s leaving-welts-on-the-horse “whip violation” at Running Aces Racetrack. Later that month, Jungquist again left welts. And now, like animal hoarders who, try as they might, cannot quite shake the urge (studies indicate a near-100% recidivism rate for hoarders), Jungquist strikes anew. From the Minnesota Racing Commission: “James Jungquist was the driver of Captain Terminator in the 8th race on 9/7/21. Captain Terminator was examined for welts…by Dr. Taylor. Welts were present. This is Mr. Jungquist’s 3rd welt offense in 2021 at Running Aces. The penalty is a $500 fine and a 5-day driving suspension.”

Three times, just this year and at the same track, Jungquist has inflicted (excessive) pain and suffering on a defenseless animal – and will live to whip another day (just five days hence, that is). Can this industry be any more abhorrent? (Incidentally, another RA driver, Brady Jenson, was cited for his second “welt offense” of 2021; penalty: $200 fine and a two-day suspension.)