Mike Smith calls it his “last-ditch effort” to protect his fellow riders and the horses on which the sport depends. As a Hall of Famer, the all-time leading Breeders’ Cup jockey and co-chair of the Jockeys’ Guild, Smith, 55, is speaking out about restrictions on the use of the riding crop he believes are putting jockeys and horses at increased risk.
Smith has written to the California Horse Racing Board urging its members to reconsider changes recently put in place. And this week he joins publisher Ray Paulick and editor-in-chief Natalie Voss on the Friday Show to elaborate on those concerns.
“I’m all for change, and I’m all for helping,” Smith said of the need for some riding crop reforms. “I want to make sure the horse is as safe as possible, because the only time I’m safe is if the horse is safe. If I put that horse in any danger, guess who’s next? I hit the ground right after he does. That’s my life that’s out there, not the spectators and not anyone else that’s not on that horse’s back.”
And that’s the dilemma horse racing faces. Can the sport successfully tackle public perception issues related to the riding crop while still giving riders the tool they say they need to remain safe and to give horse owners and gamblers a fair and honest run for their money?
“As long as we can show that we’re doing the best that we can, that we’re keeping (the horses) safe, that we’re not harming them, that it’s protection for us as well, that’s all we can do,” Smith said.
Watch this week’s Friday Show below and let us know what you think on this subject.
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