Day At The Track

Leavitt tells Brennan 'leave attitude in NJ'

06:38 PM 27 Jan 2009 NZDT
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Leading Meadowlands harness racing driver George Brennan submitted comments on Monday regarding an upcoming USTA rule change proposal on whipping. USTA Director Alan J. Leavitt, one of the leading breeders and owners in the sport, offers his viewpoint on Brennan's comments.

The rule change proposal, which will be considered by the USTA board of directors at its annual meeting Feb. 3-6, follows Leavitt's comments.

George Brennan's statement is not totally accurate when he says that the proposed ban on abusive whipping is "being supported by a relatively few individuals who do not earn their living driving or training horses."

The fact is, the proposed ban on one-handed whipping is supported, in writing, by John Campbell, Dave Palone, John Hayes, Jackie Ingrassia, Trond Smedshammer, Jimmy Takter, Stan Bergstein, John Cashman, Ebby and Peter Gerry, Ivan Axelrod, Dr. Pete Spears, and Murray Brown, among others.

As far as my credentials are concerned, while I'm not quite in John Campbell's league, I did drive in enough open races to earn an "A" license, as well as an "Open" trainer's license.

George is entitled to think and say whatever he wants, but he'd better leave his attitude in New Jersey when he comes to Kentucky, because the first time he hits a horse with one hand down here, in addition to a fine, he's going to get a minimum ten day suspension, and it goes up from there.


A proposal to amend Rule 18, Section (9) relative to whip and whipping by changing the wording in the first two paragraphs to read as follows:

"Drivers will be allowed whips not to exceed 4 feet. The use of snappers is not permitted. Drivers must keep a line in each handhold at all times during the race and have control of their horse at all times during the race.

Provided further that the following actions shall be considered indiscriminate use of the whip:

(a) Any blatant or exaggerated movements of the whipping arm which may result from raising the elbow above the driver's shoulder height and/or allowing the hand holding the whip to reach behind the driver during the use of the whip.

(b) The use of the whip other than the area inside and above the level of the shafts of the sulky and between the sulky shafts.

(c) Causing visible injury to the horse.

(d) Whipping a horse after the finish of the race.

(e) Whipping under the arch or shafts of the sulky or use of the whip as a goading device or placing the whip between the legs of the horse.

(f) The horse does not appear to be advancing through the field of horses.

(g) The use of a whip in matinee races, qualifying races, exhibition races and county fair racing unless permitted by the racing commission.

Source: USTA Staff

USTA Communications Department

Courtesy of The US Trotting Association Web Newsroom

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