I went to Woodbine last night and saw live for the first time the new whipping experiment, which forces drivers to keep both hands in the hand holds during the race. I would say that at this early stage, and at first glance, the program looks good.
First, I am of the belief that whipping does very little to affect the outcome of a race. I know bettors feel better when a driver "gets into them" down the lane, but I think that is all smoke and mirrors. If whipping hard was correlated to horses going faster, a driver like [insert name here from a B track] would be this sports all time winningest. I think this was proven last night. The times were all the same for the classes, despite the cold winds and so on. No horse won or lost last night due to the whip, or lack of it.
Second, in Europe the races look like this and they have had these rules for generations. It looked fine. The lack of aggression down the lane was noticed.
Third, outside you could not hear loud cracks. At Mohawk or at another summer track with spectators that are close to the action I think this will be even more noticeable.
I know the drivers don't like this rule, as a rule. They are doing something they have never had to do, and this is human nature. But overall, Zeke gives this experiment two hooves up.