OCEANPORT – The New Jersey Racing Commission approved a series of proposed rule changes on Wednesday at its meeting at Monmouth Park, with proposals designed to enhance safety within the horse racing industry in the state.
The Commission also approved a $20 million, taxpayer-funded purse subsidy for the horse racing industry for the 2020 season, to be split equally between thoroughbreds and standardbreds, at the meeting.
The subsidy, approved by Trenton lawmakers earlier this year, is a five-year, $100 million infusion that must be approved on an annual basis.
The proposed changes include a rule that would ban the use of a riding crop by a jockey on thoroughbreds, unless it’s used in an emergency to avoid injury to the horse or rider. A companion rule for standardbreds would allow limited use of the whip by drivers, but only under restricted circumstances.
As a response to the situation on Haskell Day at Monmouth Park last July, a proposal would authorize Judith Nason, executive director of the Racing Commission, to canel or postpone races due to extreme weather conditions. Excessive heat, which produced pressure from politicians and animal rights groups to cancel racing on Haskell Day, caused the track to postpone races, moving stakes races, including the Haskell Invitational, to the evening.
Another rule proposal would expand reporting requirements following the death of a racehorse in the state in an effort to help the commission identify factors that result in catastrophic breakdowns.
The proposal calls for an equine fatality report to be filled out within 48 hours of a horse’s death, either from racing or training, and would require a necropsy bafter each fatality. In addition, the attending veterinarian would be required to determine the cause of death and submit records detailing all drugs, medications and other treatments administered to the horse over the past 30 days.
“We take seriously our responsibility to protect all horse racing participants here in New Jersey,” said Attorney General Gurbir Grewal in a statement. “We believe the reforms we’ve proposed will make the actual competition safer and more humane for all concerned, and at the same time enhance the State’s understanding of pre-existing health conditions and other trends that could endanger the lives of race horses.”
“We’re excited about these reforms because they’ll go a long way toward making horse racing safer here in New Jersey while at the same time preserving the sport’s rich tradition and enhancing fan appeal,” said Racing Commission executive director Judith Nason. “At the Racing Commission we are committed to ensuring the horses are treated humanely, and to protecting the safety of all racing participants.”
Stephen Edelson is a USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey sports columnist who has been covering athletics in the state and at the Jersey Shore for nearly 35 years. He’s passionate about the area’s rich sports history, and the history being made today. Contact him at: @SteveEdelsonAPP; [email protected].