by Karen M. Johnson
A rule that would permit stewards to disqualify a horse should his rider carelessly strike another horse or rider with his whip was recently adopted by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.
The NYSRWB approved the final adoption of the proposed rule change to the “whip foul rule” Dec. 27, 2007. It became official when it was entered in the state register Jan. 16.
The prior rule only gave the stewards discretion to disqualify a horse whose rider struck another horse or rider with his whip if it was a “willful act.” The new rule allows for disqualifications to take place for both willful and careless incidents involving a whip.
The adoption of the new rule was spurred by the reversal of a disqualification in a graded stakes at Aqueduct in November 2006. In an unusual move, the NYSRWB subsequently overturned the stewards’ decision to disqualify Rahys’ Appeal, who was ridden by Alan Garcia, from first in the Top Flight Handicap (gr. II) to second. The stewards deemed Garcia was not acting willfully when his whip accidentally hit the runner-up, Malibu Mint, in the stretch, but that the rider’s inadvertent action did affect the outcome of the race.
In April 2007, the board unanimously reversed the decision because there was no legal position for disqualifying Rahys’ Appeal, who was owned by Marlene Brody’s Gallagher Stud and trained by Tom Bush. As a result, Rahys’ Appeal was restored the winner of the $150,000 Top Flight.