07/26/2001 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor

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To eliminate role of stewards would be folly

After reading Dick Jerardi's July 20 column, "It's time to let race results stand," I was compelled to respond with a question: What reporter would apparently do no research before submitting an article for publication?

There are many places where the "rules of racing" can be found, such as The Jockey Club, napraonline.com, state statutes, and most racing commissions' websites. They are all very similar. Jerardi's statement that the rules of racing are "never updated" is incorrect. The North American Pari-Mutuel Regulators Association and the Association of Racing Commissioners International work very diligently to get racing commissions to upgrade the rules.

Yes, a rule is written that gives the stewards the authority to disqualify: "The offending horse may be disqualified if, in the opinion of the stewards, the foul altered the finish of the race, regardless of whether the foul was accidental, willful, or the result of careless riding." This is verbatim from NAPRA's model rules. Years of experience and steward-accreditation classes help the stewards implement the rule.

Jerardi's asked, "Why penalize the owners, trainers, and bettors?" Aren't the owners, trainers, and bettors of the other horses penalized if an infraction occurs and the offender is not disqualified? Possibly, racing could be conducted under "Roller Derby rules," and we could have blockers, etc. With all the thrills and spills, attendance would probably increase and betting would more than likely decline. It's doubtful the animal rights advocates would let racing continue for very long under such rules.

I beg to differ with the statement, "Only in horse racing can the outcome of a contest be changed after the contest is over." I remember a car race a number of years ago, when the films were reviewed and the winner had not completed the required number of laps; the result was a DQ.

Has Jerardi ever heard of a scholastic event being forfeited after the event because of an ineligible player? Haven't some Major League Baseball games been played under appeal?

We do not live in an ideal world, and there is always room for improvement. I believe, however, that the rules we have in place are far superior to Jerardi's suggestions.

W. Richard Garrison, Steward

Prairie Meadows

Fat purses, big payoffs present a paradox

Churchill Downs held four races the day of the Stephen Foster Handicap, the eighth through 11th, with purses of $100,000, $300,000, $150,000, and $750,000. The winners paid $50, $14.40, $59.40, and $33.40.

One should think that the bigger the purse, the more the champion horses would rise to the occasion. They don't, never have, and never will; they simply come and go.

On another front, Andrew Beyer has pronounced that the industry is strong ("It's alive! Racing shows strong pulse," June 20). Racing almost flatlined in 1995; simulcasting created a pulse. Now slots are keeping Delaware, Mountaineer, Prairie Meadows, and Woodbine healthy. Soon all tracks will grab the coattails of alternative gambling. What is that old saying, "Publish or perish?" The cry throughout the Thoroughbred industry will now be, "Slots or perish."

Wendell Corrow

Barkhamsted, Conn.