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Gural: Zero Tolerance On Kicking

Published: December 16, 2014 3:26 pm ET

Last Comment: December 18, 2014 3:48 pm ET | 7 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

It has been announced that, effective immediately, the Meadowlands Racetrack, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs will be enforcing a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drivers violating rules associated with the ‘kicking or nudging’ of a horse.

In a Tuesday release from the Meadowlands it was announced that this past Saturday, Meadowlands CEO and General Manager Jason Settlemoir, along with presiding judge John Tomasello, met with the drivers and informed them of the policy.

Any driver that is cited for an infraction pertaining to ‘kicking or nudging a horse’ will be suspended for seven (7) days by the judges at the Meadowlands. In addition, the management at the Meadowlands, Tioga and Vernon will reserve the right to disqualify that driver from participation at all three racetracks.

The rule exists in the New Jersey Racing Commission Rule Book and can be found in 13:71-20.15:

“The brutal use of a whip or blunt spur, kicking a horse with a foot, striking a horse with the whip under the seat of the sulky or indiscriminate use of a whip may be considered a violation.”

Furthermore, if a driver is cited for a ‘kicking or nudging’ violation at any racetrack other than three properties operated by Jeff Gural, the management at the Meadowlands, Tioga and Vernon will reserve the right to disqualify that driver from participation at all three racetracks.

“We have a responsibility to our horses and to the public that we are putting forth the most integrity-driven and safest product possible,” said Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural. “Regardless of the debate that has been ongoing related to this issue, as far as we are concerned, perception is reality and it looks terrible, therefore we will not tolerate it. I hope our having to take action on this issue will not be required to demonstrate how serious we are about this subject.”

The release goes on to state that the policy will be in effect when the Meadowlands resumes racing on Friday, December 19.

(With files from the Meadowlands)

December 18, 2014 - 3:48 pmTo Mr. Gural, the nudging

Jim Brown SAID...

To Mr. Gural, the nudging with a foot by a driver to me is not a big deal, but the heavy whipping in the lane bothers me. What bothers me the most, as a betting fan, is when certain owners have more than one horse in a race they truly get the unfair advantage. So for the betting public this needs to be addressed.

December 17, 2014 - 9:04 amI am not an expert so I don't

Joe Riga SAID...

I am not an expert so I don't know what effects kicking a horse has on the health of the horse or if it makes a difference in the effort a horse puts out while racing. Having said that I applaud the efforts that Mr. Gural is making to clean up the sport from all aspects such as drugging horses, questionable drives from drivers regardless of who they are etc. At least Mr. Gural is doing all he can for putting out the fairest, cleanest and most exciting racing out there. As a fan and a bettor I take the Meadowlands over every other harness track by a country mile. Mr Gural deserves all the credit for reviving the Meadowlands.

December 17, 2014 - 7:35 amThe whip/nudging is a

The whip/nudging is a tool/strategy that enhances the performance of a horse.There is a reason why they do it. Have you ever seen a driver "kick or whip" a horse in the stretch to slow it down!! It's unfair to the bettors. It's an advantage to the drivers. Drivers are allowed to bet their horses. Would you play poker against someone that was allowed to keep a ACE in their pocket and be able to use it whenever they liked! There is no guarantee that the ACE/kicking/whipping will improve the hand/horse, but it most likely isn't going to hurt. One week they whip/nudge, the next week they don't. They pick n choose when they use it! There is no CONSISTENCY in the GAME. If a driver is allowed to whip/kick his/her horse ten times down the stretch today,then they must do it next week. That would be hard to enforce, so just BAN both. BAN both and bring some consistency and skill to the game.

December 17, 2014 - 7:22 amRobdy Copley's observation is

murray brown SAID...

Robdy Copley's observation is the one I hear most with regard to a driver using his feet to make a horse go faster. Its not a question of whipping or "kicking". The reality is that both are bad for racing and extremely bad for a sport that needs all the good imagery it can get.
Its not a question of either/or. Its a need to get rid of both - probably most importantly for the image of our sport, which desperately needs some good public perception.

December 17, 2014 - 5:45 amIt is a great move by Jeff

Allan Schott SAID...

It is a great move by Jeff Gural and company. Does nudging hurt a horse? Many say it doesn't but one thing is for sure, they don't find it pleasant. Regardless, the visual is horrible and will not be tolerated by the general public, the ones whose opinion may very well matter when it comes to continuing government support of racing.

December 16, 2014 - 6:32 pmI find it almost impossible

I find it almost impossible to believe but several leading drivers tried to justify kicking. Even if it does not injure a horse, the public perception and perception by the SPCA makes such action horrendous for the future of racing. The changes Mr Gural has made have been universally endorsed by the public, as this one will be, which is a large part of the reason for the success of the Meadowlands!!

December 16, 2014 - 4:21 pm"Kicking" a horse (it's not

Randy Copley SAID...

"Kicking" a horse (it's not even kicking) is the best way to make them go on. Throw the whips away and allow it. Actually fine drivers who don't kick, that would be a good idea. Never seen a horse come off the track with welts or cuts from it. I have seen it with whipping though. And as far as it looking bad? 95% of the people who watch horse racing wouldn't have a sweet clue when a driver puts his foot down on a horses hock.

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