Here we go, down to two. Nothing dominated the headlines in racing more in 2019 than reports, analysis and commentary about the rash of breakdowns at Santa Anita Park. A lot came out of the crisis, aside from the gnashing of teeth from those inside the sport and suggestions on solutions from those outside.
Somehow jockeys’ use of the whip came up in the conversation. When it did Sean Clancy wrote about it in his The Inside Rail blog.
Sean’s post titled “The Whip” appeared well into the crisis at Santa Anita and in America at large.
“Sadly and strangely, whips (and Lasix but that’s for another day) have been thrown in the mix with injuries and fatalities at Santa Anita,” Sean wrote. “The California racetrack has a problem, that’s obvious. Why that has become a whip or Lasix issue is unfathomable. Breakdowns at Santa Anita have nothing to do with whips or Lasix.”
Sean went on to tell the story of a discussion 20 years ago in a school near Saratoga about racing. Sean gave multiple presentations to different age groups and afterward the students were encouraged to ask questions.
Two questions dominated.
“Do the whips hurt the horses and what happens to the horses after they retire from racing?” Sean wrote. “Tough questions. Prudent questions. And questions that affect a young person’s opinion of our sport. We are trying to cultivate new fans. My experience that day was far from a detailed study, obviously, but elementary and middle school kids are concerned about those two things. I struggled to answer those questions that day, and like all of us, still struggle to answer them.”
The column digs into the big issues associated with whip usage, from an ex-jockey’s and a horseman’s perspective. It’s definitely worth another read as we start another Santa Anita meeting and approach 2020.
The column appeared April 11 is No. 2 on the TIHR Top 10 for 2019.
No. 2: The Whip
Check out the rest of the TIHR Top 10 for 2019:
No. 7: Wicklow Brave
No. 3: Paddy Neilson
No. 2: The Whip