'Punishment doesn't fit the crime' - Mike Smith slams $200,000 Saudi Cup fine
Mike Smith has responded to his fine of over $200,000 for excessive use of the whip when finishing second in the Saudi Cup, describing the punishment as "brutal".
The veteran American rider was aboard runner-up Midnight Bisou in the inaugural running of the world's richest race, which has a purse of $20 million. Smith used the whip 14 times with the permitted level at ten.
Jockeys riding in the race were set to receive ten per cent of prize-money earned, but Smith was fined 60 per cent of that total for breaching the rules. He was also given an eight-day ban, plus an additional day for using the whip with no regard for the horse's stride.
"They'll come in and explain stuff to you. You understand it but you don't," Smith told BloodHorse. "Like excessive? What's excessive? I got added a day because I hit off stride – I don't even know what that means – and excessive.
"By no means do I feel that the way I rode her was excessive. I might have passed the number a little bit, but that was it. I never put her or anyone else in harm.
"To receive that many days of a suspension is brutal enough and then to take 60 per cent from what I flew across the world to earn, close to a quarter of a million dollars, the punishment doesn't fit the crime."
Midnight Bisou is part-owned by the Bloom Racing Stable partnership, whose managing partner Jeff Bloom also spoke out.
He said: "Personally I didn't see Mike do anything wrong at all. He was just flagging the horse and tapping her for encouragement. The extreme penalty was completely out of line.
"Mike is definitely not someone who gets himself in a situation where he will do anything excessive or cause any harm to a horse. Mike is not going to be that guy."
Irad Ortiz was also given an eight-day suspension, and a ten per cent fine of his prize-money share, for use of the whip in Riyadh. Oisin Murphy received a two-day ban but was granted Group-race dispensation to ride on Super Saturday in Dubai.
Members can read the latest exclusive tipping content such as Pricewise and Paul Kealy from 6pm daily on racingpost.com. Don't forget: Members receive Pricewise Extra at 10am daily on racingpost.com