John B on twitter last night said the current harness driver practice of booting the hocks has gotten "out of control."
Hock kicking involves dropping the feet out of the stirrups to sting or scare a horse into going faster. As one poster put it, "it's for hillbillies" and built for another time, but it's going on each day. It's illegal, it always has been illegal; in fact, all you have to do is ask Walter Case about it if you want to know if it's okay or not.
After John posted that (he was referring to Winds of Change being booted in the Champlain Stakes at Mohawk), I went to a chat board where an everyday bettor said "check the boots in the Scioto race on Pet Rock"
So I did.
As John pointed out "I am surprised his leg was not broken". Watch the video here (the leader at the 1:50 mark) for some of the most blatant booting you will see.
Last year's Jug (if you remember twitter chats at that time) was a bootfest, and its just around the corner. This has been going on for some time. And the judges seem to be watching a football game. There is rarely, if ever, a fine of any kind.
Harness racing is a messed up sport. There's no commissioner, no leader, it's like no one minds the store. We all know that and it's a primary reason it is so screwed up. However, this is probably not hard to fix.
1, Judges have to get off their ass and call it
2. Fine the offenders $1,000 and give them a week. For any added infraction double it.
If that's done, booting will be stopped in a week. We know this from experience. In Ontario in 2009 the Ontario Racing Commission received complaints from the public about this (it's the 2000's and booting a horse's hocks is not copacetic with the public, who pay everyone's purses) and they acted; swiftly and without any equivocation. The nightly occurrence of feet out of the stirrups was gone in no time.
Other states should've learned from Ontario. But like most of harness racing, it seems asleep at the switch.
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