Go to any simulcast center in North America. Or listen in on a driver excuse-trainer/owner chat after the race. You will often hear "if only I hit him more" or "if only the driver would have hit him harder" the horse would have won, or done better. This is certainly common in the world of handicapping. As handicappers we love to blame our losses on others, and the whip is a good proxy.
So, with a hundred years of watching races one would figure that the new experiment in Ontario regarding whipping would have those horses going slower, would it not? After all, a driver can not "get into them", or be a greek god and slam that whip into the saddle pad, stifle, or whereever else they find, with Roberto Duran-like force.
Having a look at the races since the new whipping rules began (started last Thursday):
Sportswriter - 149.2 World Record in the Metro Pace
Shark Gesture - 148.1 track record in the Canadian Pacing Derby (tied the fastest mile in our country's history)
Hyperion Hanover - 149.2 race record in the FFA
Keystone Horatio - 150 flat seasons record
Senor Glide - 155.2 Canadian record in the Simcoe
There have been several others set lifetime marks the past five days. And they all did it without the use of the whip. Everyone knows that Mohawk is super-fast right now, but even with that, this whipping experiment is a whole lotta nothing for handicappers; and the doom and gloomers are being proven to be completely off the mark.
And when we think of it, is it not common sense? I read Geoff Huston's book on horse behaviour awhile back and he said time and time again horses are conditioned. They are not smart, they will not do your taxes, but they know that down the lane when they hear the whip, hear yelling, see a horse come up to them, it's time to go. Trainers do a good job and have ingrained it into them with thousands of training miles, schoolers, and races. It is why when a horse gives it up late, he is a bad bet, because he is not giving it up because the driver did not whip him, he is giving it up because there is a problem, and he is tired. We saw that with Yellow Diamond earlier this year at Georgian. To think, with hundreds of hours of conditioning, that she would not have walked at the wire if she was whipped is pure folly.
So I am handicapping just like I always have. And so is everyone else it seems. It's a whole lotta nothing, and it is best to treat it as such.
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