A change in rules governing the use of the whip in harness races at the Meadowlands Racetrack will take effect this weekend.
A directive issued by the New Jersey Racing Commission reads, in part, as follows: "The use of the whip shall be confined to the areas above and between the sulky shafts. The one handed use of the whip shall be limited to the striking of the shafts of the sulky or the saddle pad. Drivers are prohibited from using the whip in a one handed striking motion from the start of the race until the horse reaches the 1/4 mile pole."
The directive, which is lengthy, may be read in its entirety by clicking here.
In an effort to safeguard the welfare of horses, New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC requested the assistance of the New Jersey Racing Commission by implementing a new and expansive policy concerning the use of the whip by drivers in harness races conducted at the Meadowlands. The new policy clarifies provisions contained in the current NJRC rule which prohibits the brutal and indiscriminate use of the whip upon any horse.
"At the Meadowlands, we recognize the importance of this issue and are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of our horses,” said NMRLLC Chairman Jeff Gural. "Hopefully the changes being recommended will help solve the problem. We are also looking into the possibility of developing a different type of whip and a larger saddle pad to insure that the animals are not being abused.
"I look forward to the cooperation of all of the drivers. Obviously, I take this matter very seriously. Hopefully, I will be able to implement similar changes at the two tracks I own in New York and I would encourage all racetrack owners to take steps to ensure the public that we will not tolerate any abuse of these beautiful animals.”
Live racing at the Meadowlands resumes May 4-5 with live turf racing at 3:30 p.m. and harness racing at 7 p.m. (Meadowlands)