Due to his stretch ride in the Woodbine Oaks, winning jockey Alex Solis received a $6,000 fine for whipping Oaks winner Irish Mission excessively in the stretch. Sounds like quite a fine for jockey, but the Oaks had a purse of $500,000. The winner's portion was $300,000, of which $30,000 went to the Solis ($7,500 of that most probably went to Solis' jockey agent). Second prize is only a third of these amounts.
First, I want to comment Woodbine and the ORC to have whipping rules in place. They've even made strides when it comes to using less abusive whips. But this whole scenario just doesn't seem right or proper.
Before I go on, watch the race:
You can't see the violation because Solis whipped with his left hand, but I'm sure the head on film left no doubt in the minds of the stewards. The point of watching the race was to show that it was a very close race, and sustained momentum seemed to win it for Irish Mission, probably brought on by constant whipping.
The reason for the ORC rule in the first place was to protect the horse and to help improve the public perception of horse racing. Both are great reasons. Though some have argued that whipping should be banned completely, and some go as far as saying whipping does not make a horse go faster, I think the latter might be true of some horses, but many horses wind up with improved results due to their need to be constantly reminded to keep their mind on business.
Not that I'm against eliminating the whip or just using placebo whips, that is not the issue here, the issue is an equal playing field, whether you are a bettor or horsemen or jockey.
And it is a race like Oaks where my sense of fairness gets carved a new one. If you are a bettor, you want your jockey to excessively hit if it is the difference between cashing or ripping up your ticket. Same thing applies if you are an owner, trainer, or groom. Excessive whipping is not something a horse can get DQed over. Purses aren't redistributed because of it. The fines are in place to act as a deterrent to try to prevent jockeys from slashing too much. And yes, repeated violations can also lead to more income loss down the road via more fines and then suspensions. Solis hasn't been here long enough to have repeat offenses though.
The point here is that the fine wasn't big enough. And for those who wagered on the second place finisher, and those who were involved in the ownership or training of the second place finisher and even the third place finisher have to just feel like suckers if they give this situation any thought at all. It isn't right that a jockey can decide to gamble on a fine in order to win a race, and there should be no incentive to do so.
I don't blame Solis here at all, he was playing by the rules as currently administered. Only unambitious people might say that they don't want to work harder to make more money because they pay a higher tax rate. Solis pulled out all the punches he could to win, and he wound up with more net money than he would have if he decided to not risk getting fined. He didn't do anything illegal either. And that is why jockeys need to lose their entire portion of the purse in the future.