by Natalie Voss | 05.10.2019 | 3:04pm
In the hubbub of the Kentucky Derby disqualification drama, replays and still images have been analyzed and watched thousands of times as viewers try to get a handle on Maximum Security’s path of travel and the resulting domino effect. One thing people probably weren’t looking at closely, however, was the whips the jockeys were carrying. All riders in this year’s Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby went to the post with the new 360 Gentle Touch (360 GT) riding crop, engineered by retired Eclipse Award-winning jockey Ramon Dominguez. Riders at Laurel Park adopted the crop’s use in April.
Until the DQ of Maximum Security took center stage, the use of the whip (often referred to as a “riding crop” in an attempt at rebranding) was one of the central debates in racing, prompted by The Stronach Group’s suggestions earlier this year it would do away with the whip for any purpose other than safety or correction of a drifting horse. That declaration, which became a rule unanimously approved by the California Horse Racing Board, was met with displeasure by the Jockeys’ Guild, which claims its members need the whip. Horseplayers weighed in to suggest they preferred riders to use them for encouragement. On the opposite side of the aisle, animal rights groups have long demonized use of the whip, adding it in a long list of perceived abuses in the sport.