03/09/2007 12:00AM

Letters to the editor

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Deflated odds, late scheduling hurt Derby futures

One of the best parts of winter has returned. The Kentucky Derby Future Wager is back for Pool 2. For those of us who can't make the trip out to Las Vegas, the Future Wager offers us a neat chance to have our opinion rewarded. Or does it?

While the idea of the Future Wager is a great one, the deficiencies of the wager are about as numerable as the individual betting interests. And that seems like a good place to start. There are 23 individual betting interests and a 24th, the mutuel field. So, in the year 2007, do you mean to tell me there is no system that can allow a parimutuel pool of more than 24 choices?

I like a real longshot, a horse named Longley. The odds of Longley winning the Kentucky Derby are probably in the vicinity of 400-1. But thanks to the mutuel pool, I figure to be able to get him at the bargain-basement price of 7-2. Oh joy.

Just think of the overlays if we were to have 100 betting interests. The favorite would be somewhere in the area of 20-1, yet with today's system, the favorite individual horse may be about 8-1. Who in his right mind would wager any serious money on that?

As if that's not bad enough, the timing of the pools is completely wrong. The joy of the Future Wager is to have your opinion rewarded if you are correct. If you are skilled enough (and lucky enough) to find that diamond in the rough, then you should be rewarded for it. How neat would it be to have the first pool in early January, before there were any major preps, before Scat Daddy proved he could go a distance of ground, before Ravel went from a maiden to a graded stakes winner? You would more than likely get five to 10 times the price you will Sunday evening.

And I understand that it's tough to schedule the pools around all the preps, as there are so many of them. But I don't see why they can't be tweaked so they are not right on top of the major preps. Then the real drawing card of a future bet would be brought out.

Brian Nadeau - Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

South Florida setup needs another fix

I recently took my second trip to Florida in as many years, and more than likely my last.

Gulfstream Park and Hialeah were two of my favorite tracks to visit for 30-plus years. What a disaster Gulfstream has become, though. Not only is the seating a total joke, but so is the design of the racetrack itself. As I watched race after race on the dirt, I couldn't help notice that any horse who was hung three or four wide during the early part of any race basically had no chance, because there seems to be little or no bank to the track. It also seems the horses labor to run the farther they are from the rail.

You have to bet not necessarily the best horse on paper, but the horse you think is going to be able to save ground. As the week progressed, I simply threw out any logical horse who appeared likely to be hung out to dry. As for the grass course, when the rail is at 0 feet, there is no problem, but when it is at 84 feet, once again there is no bank. This fact kills any horse who is a midpack stalking type from an outside post, unless by some miracle he can get a position no more than two wide.

The seating issue has been beaten to death, but I did want to make one point about it. When such high-profile trainers as Todd Pletcher and Christophe Clement have to stand on some stairs to watch their horses run in graded stakes, need I say more? Where in the heck are the box seats for these people and their owners.

I do have a solution, but it will take the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering to get involved.

Magna Entertainment Corp. obviously built this grandstand for only one reason, and that is the casino. That's fine. My suggestion is to refurbish Hialeah Park, give it the prime January, February, and March dates, give Gulfstream the spring-summer dates, and give Calder the remaining dates. The people who want the true ambiance and atmosphere of horse racing will receive it, and the people who like to play slot machines can go to Gulfstream. Furthermore, Mr. Pletcher and his clients will have a box seat at one of most beautiful racetracks ever built.

Mike Dante - Villa Park, Calif.

This fan not hit by wintertime blues

After reading one fan's views on winter racing, in the March 4 letter "At times, winter racing can make fans shudder," I felt a need to respond. (If indeed the writer had his tongue firmly implanted in his cheek, well then, he gets a pass.)

Race-callers John Dooley, at Fair Grounds, and Richard Grunder, at Tampa Bay Downs, in my view, do a heck of a job in giving the race a little color. If reference to the jocks is part of their repertoire, so be it. I would rather have had a deuce on jockeys Joe Talamo or Daniel Centeno, as they surely would soothe those winter blues.

As for the monotony of those those gate-to-wire winners at Aqueduct the writer mentioned. I do agree with him on that. I have many friends, though, who salivate when Aqueduct's inner track opens. How the $5,000 claimers came about, I don't know. Part of the reason for the success of Aqueduct in the winter months, I thought, is that a lot of stables stay because of the competitive purses.

As for racing's wintertime absence in New Jersey, there is always the Breeders' Cup '07 to look forward to, when I am sure the people of the Garden State will put on a great show for our betting pleasure.

Tom Nichols - Cape Coral, Fla.