Terry Meyocks, president and CEO of The Jockeys’ Guild, said Wednesday that “the majority” of riders in Saturday’s 2019 Kentucky Derby are expected to use the new 360GT (gentle touch) whip — formally known as a crop.
The guild’s board of directors co-chaired by Mike Smith, who had the assignment on favorite Omaha Beach until that colt's scratch, motioned to make the request of all Derby jockeys within the last week.
Others on the board with Derby mounts are John Velazquez (Code of Honor), Javier Castellano (Vekoma) and Julien Leparoux (Master Fencer). Five more riders are representatives of the regional Jockeys’ Guild Senate.
“Jocks have always been proactive and tried to do what’s in the best interest of the industry looking to do what’s equine-friendly,” Meyocks said.
And the Derby will, of course, place on a larger platform a number of safety issues stemming from the above-average rate of equine fatalities that marred Santa Anita Park’s winter meet. Among them: use of race day medication, debate over track surfaces and the whip's role in breakdowns.
Developed by Hall of Fame jockey Ramon Dominguez, the 360GT model has larger and round, spongy padding at the end of the stick designed for less of an impact on horses than the widely used "ProCush" whip introduced about a decade ago as another step toward safety.
Meyocks said The Jockeys’ Guild has encouraged veterinarian checks of horses running at tracks such as Keeneland and Santa Anita for welts or cuts from the 360GT.
“Basically, it’s been eliminated — totally,” he said.
Meyocks added that it could take some convincing to bring all 20 Derby jockeys around to using the 360GT. The same was asked of all riders in Friday's Kentucky Oaks.
“Let’s go back to the mid-90s,” Meyocks said. “Some jocks were opposed to the vest when they came in. Now they wouldn’t ride without one.”
The California Horse Racing Board in March unanimously approved a proposal to restrict whip use, moving it to a comment period. In what could amount to a drawn out process, The Stronach Group, which owns and operates Santa Anita, has called for no use of the whip “except when necessary to control the horse for the safety of the horse or rider.” The Jockeys’ Guild is in favor of its riders maintaining status quo, but with safer crops.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CROP AND A WHIP?
A modern crop usually consists of a long shaft of fiberglass or cane which is covered in leather, fabric, or similar material. ... Thus, a true crop is relatively short. The term "whip" is a more common term that includes both riding crops as well as longer types of horse whips used for both riding and ground work.