01/26/2007 12:00AM



Trainers' achievements worthy of respect

This is in response to the Jan. 21 letter to the Racing Form "Trainer's departure brings no tears."

I do not know the letter's author, but I have been lucky enough to call Phil Hauswald and Pete Vestal my friends for 20 years. I am not sure how the letter-writer judges failure, but this is what I know these two men to have achieved.

1. Both have worked their way to the top of our business.

2. Both have trained multiple Grade 1 winners including those of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, Spinster, Blue Grass, and the Arkansas Derby - just to name a few.

3. Trained a champion 2-year old filly.

4. Both have been, and continue to be, outstanding family men.

5. And, last but not least, both of these men have the utmost respect from their peers at and away from the racetrack.

I don't believe it would be unfair for me to say that most trainers would love to have their resumes. They are two of the hardest-working people our business has ever known. I also don't believe that the letter's author wants to get into a work-ethic or character debate with these two men.

It is said that everyone will have their 15 minutes of fame. Perhaps in this case, considering the letter-writer's affiliation, that amounts to 45 days, with about 15 days left.

G.R. Arnold II

Lexington, Ky.

Rough treatment unfair to trainer

I was stunned by the vicious diatribe against Pete Vestal in the Jan. 21 letter to the Racing Form "Trainer's departure brings no tears."

I have never met Mr. Vestal, but the ax that was being ground into his head was hard to miss.

The writer questioned Vestal's work ethic, yet her husband is taking a paycheck from Todd Pletcher, a mega-trainer who rung up 10 percent of more purse money in one year, 2006, than Mr. Vestal and many others like him will see in a lifetime.

Pletcher appears to be the epitome of gracious class. I can not imagine that he condoned such a personal attack on a fellow trainer.

Barbara Bowen

Newton, Mass.

Barbaro deserves award of his own

Many great horses were nominated for this year's Eclipse Awards, and the horses who did win are good horses, but they were not Barbaro ("Invasor, Maktoums steal show," Jan. 24).

Barbaro has done so much for the sport of racing, and yet he went without personal recognition at the Eclipse Awards as far as receiving an award. His owners, his jockey, and his veterinarian all received awards, though. We find this funny, because without a horse, any horse, you have no need for a jockey, owner, or vet.

Everything Roy and Gretchen Jackson, Edgar Prado, and Dr. Dean Richardson have done for Barbaro is worth recognition and an award, but Barbaro deserves one too: MVH - Most Valuable Horse. He should have been recognized for doing the most for horse racing. He greatly enhanced the fan base and received nothing. It was very disturbing that everyone was recognized but the one creature who did it all: Barbaro.

The McAnany Family


Rule change would root out 'shills'

I think the NTRA and Daily Racing Form should consider changing the rules for qualifying for the NTRA/DRF National Handicapping Tournament, which went on this past weekend in Vegas. All contests around the country should allow people to enter as many times as they want, and you should be able to win multiple entries to the final tournament.

I qualified last year and am now basically sick and tired of seeing people bringing 10 or 15 family members or friends to the track and using them as shills to qualify. One man who has qualified on multiple occasions (and has himself and three or four family members in the finals again this year) routinely brings about 15-20 people to every local tournament around where he resides and none of them ever pick up a Racing Form or a program. They all have headphones on and are usually reading a book or something. Every bet they make is directed by him, and they couldn't answer even a basic horse racing question when asked.

It's a totally unfair advantage to be able to cover four or five longshots in a race when you hate the favorite, and if they blow, you still have 10 more bullets to fire. I'm sure many more "shills" exist among friends that aren't as obvious.

If the tracks are going to blatantly look the other way, why not just let me enter 15 times myself and save everyone all the headaches. If you don't believe many people in the finals are "owned" by someone else, I've got a bridge to sell you.

Rob Clayton

Wilmington, Del.