Booting is "Out of Control"

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.


Anonymous said...


RR said...

if this was tbred racing it would be like striking a horse in the head w/ the whip. the stewards would not let it go.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you can give Mr. Giwner a call and explain to him what "kicking" a horse really means (as he seems to think that it involves actually "kicking" the animal, in the traditional meaning of the word). Not saying that allowing a horse to brush a hock against your boot is "legal", but it's disappointing that one of the game's top spokesmen isn't even aware of what actually is happening.

Anonymous said...

Why do people in power in harness racing have such a hard time enforcing rules?

Anonymous said...

Anyone who has ever read the racing rules in his home state knows the judges miss or ignore a lot of rule violations. It's almost like they have a quota and it's much easier to reach the quota by issuing "late for Lasix" or "going through the post parade" fines while skpping the more serious stuff.

Many fines here in Pennsylvania are just $50 or $100 and that includes for kicking or booting. Low fines and gigantic purses make it profitable to break rules to help a horse win.

Anonymous said...

Judges do a piss poor job of enforcing rules of any type.

They have a book in front of them with a long list of rules - not guidelines - rules. Enforce them. Pretty simple.

No talking on the track. None. Call it.

No giving holes to your friends and then park out the guy coming in from Illinois.

No opening the rail because your friend released you to the front and you're all done and he's raging with pace in the pocket.

No feet out of the stirrups to kick.

As I said, the judges do the sport a great injustice by turning a blind eye to the simplest rules that are broken with great regularity.

JLB said...

Raced a cheap young horse at Tioga a few years back. Had just bought him from a farmer in Illinois who had his son driving him at the fairs and at Balmoral. In his first start at Tioga he romped in a LT best against a less experienced field than he had faced in the Midwest. On paper, he was much the best. My trainer, a young man who has had an absolutely spotless record, was called in and told he would be watched very carefully. While nothing ever transpired, the judges made it sound like he was guilty until proven innocent. This was in the same month that they made a very questionable DQ because a driver had allegedly slowed the pace.


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