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California Horse Racing Board approves new rules restricting how whips may be used - HORSE RACING, – The California Horse Racing Board adopted a rule on Thursday that will greatly restrict the use of the whip. The new rule may begin as soon as October.

传奇sfAt a marathon teleconference that lasted more than six hours, the racing board enacted the new whip rule that was first discussed in early 2019. The rule was the subject of a lengthy debate on Thursday and was approved by a vote of 4-2.

Chairman Greg Ferraro, vice chairman Oscar Gonzales, and commissioners Damascus Castellanos and Wendy Mitchell voted to pass the rule, while commissioners Dennis Alfieri and Alex Solis voted against the measure.

传奇sfJockeys will be allowed to use a whip only in an under-handed motion no more than six times in a race while holding the reins or touching the neck of the horse, according to terms published by the racing board. Riders can strike a horse using that motion twice in succession before giving the horse a chance to respond. Currently, riders can strike a horse three times before pausing.

Under the new rule, jockeys in violation will face a minimum suspension of three days and a maximum fine of $1,000 “absent mitigating circumstances,” according to the language of the rule. Jockeys will not be penalized “if, in the opinion of the stewards, the use of the crop was necessary for the safety of the horse or rider.”

The rule will be forwarded to the state’s office of administrative law for a legal review before being sent to the secretary of state for final approval, according to Amanda Drummond, the racing board’s policy and regulation manager. If approved by those agencies, the rule could be in place at California’s racetracks on Oct. 1, or by Jan. 1, 2021, Drummond said.

Prior to approval, representatives of the Jockeys’ Guild, including president Terry Meyocks and Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, asked the board to delay a vote until later this summer with the expectation that a national policy could be approved in other states.

Their argument was dismissed by Ferraro, who mentioned objectives given to the racing board by California Gov. Gavin Newsom to enact additional safety measures in the sport.

“It could be forever before they adopt a rule,” Ferraro said of other regulatory boards. “Everyone wants to kick it down the road. I don’t think we’ll see a national rule. It could be years.

“This board has a mandate from the governor to make reforms in racing that contribute to the welfare of the horse. It’s time to stop procrastinating and pass a rule.”

Earlier at Thursday’s meeting, the racing board passed a measure that would restrict the type of whips riders are allowed to use. Currently, jockeys are using whips with rounded, padded material on the tip and without hard edges. The approved rule would required riders to use a whip with a foam cylinder in the portion that makes contact with the horse. The whip discussed under the rule has been designed by retired Hall of Fame jockey Ramon Dominguez.

The board adopted racing dates for the summer portion of the northern California fair circuit, beginning next week at the Alameda County Fair at Pleasanton. The issue was discussed for more than two hours in the morning before the item was recessed until early afternoon to allow executives with Pleasanton and Golden Gate Fields to hold behind-the-scenes discussions regarding racing dates and offtrack stabling.

Under a plan quickly approved by the racing board, Pleasanton will conduct six weeks of racing from June 19 to July 28 - four weeks under the Alameda County Fair license through July 12, and two weeks, beginning on July 15, under the Cal-Expo license.

The Sonoma County Fair at Golden Gate Fields will be held from July 29 to Aug. 9, followed by a Golden Gate meeting from Aug. 12 to Oct. 6.

Initially, Pleasanton was scheduled to run through Aug. 2, but yielded a week to Golden Gate Fields after the midday negotiations. As a result, Golden Gate Fields will remain open for training through June and July. As of Thursday morning, the track was scheduled to close its barn area for several weeks this summer.

传奇sfGolden Gate’s winter-spring meeting concludes on Sunday.

The new schedule was met with opposition from some owners and trainers who wanted racing to continue without interruption at Golden Gate Fields this summer to avoid the transfer of horses and backstretch personnel to Pleasanton amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

The actual start and finish dates of some of those meetings will be slightly different than what was announced by the racing board. The announced dates include some weekdays in which the organizations will receive revenue from simulcasting.

County fairs at Cal-Expo in Sacramento, the Sonoma County Fair at Santa Rosa, and the Humboldt County Fair in Ferndale announced in recent months they will not conduct fair activities this year because of the pandemic, leading racing officials at those venues to shift dates to Pleasanton or Golden Gate Fields.

传奇sfHumboldt and Pleasanton officials have reached a financial agreement to allow Humboldt to receive revenue from the June 20 program at Pleasanton, the racing board was told.

Ferraro stressed that the reallocated dates are being done this year because of the coronavirus outbreak and would not necessarily be the same in 2021.

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