04/12/2007 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


Casino mogul has no place running a track

So Steve Wynn, recent addition to the Excelsior Racing Associates team, which is trying to run New York racing, thinks horse racing is a failed sport ("Excelsior stresses plan's casino aspect," April 13).

He thinks the only way to make it popular again is to fuel the sport with slot machines and other entertainment. This guy may be a genius in Las Vegas, where casino games rule and he cannot vacuum up the money fast enough. Yes, Wynn knows casino games, but what does he know about racing?

He doesn't have one racing credential, and he seems unaware of the past 30 years in which entertainment proved a total failure in attracting people to participate in horse racing. "Entertainment" attracts people to come and watch entertainment.

And slot machines attract people to come and play the slot machines. Few slot-machine players come to play the horses. Playing horses takes them too long to lose their money, with 25 to 30 minutes between races. Slot machine players like to lose money rapidly, with 30-plus plays a minute.

Racetracks can make some good money off the slots players' losses, but they will never switch a slots player into a horseplayer. From what Wynn says, he proves he knows nothing about horse racing, absolutely nothing. And that might qualify him for the job of running New York racing.

Alan Hirsch - Port Washington, N.Y.

Drug use a danger on four legs or two

I was greatly amused recently when I saw the the news on TV claiming that the new fad for weight control and staying thin is by ingesting clenbuterol. It is now used to get and stay skinny by models and other people who have to fight weight.

There also have been warnings for dangerous side effects involving blood pressure, cardiac ills, and other physical problems.

Now let's get back to the horse. Up until about 18 years ago in California, it was specifically forbidden for racehorses to test even minutely positive for this drug. It enhances a horse's respiratory system while the animal is racing or exercising. Now, however, this rule has been relaxed as long as the horse doesn't test above a certain level, which means a trainer has to be careful not to use it too close to a race.

It's funny: In the old days, how did we ever race a horse without this substance in his system? Once in a while, a trainer is called on the carpet when a horse tests above a legal limit. That can result in fines, suspension, and forfeiture of purse money. It costs an owner $9 a day extra for a horse to be on clenbuterol. Now, if no one used the substance for daily training, racing would still be on an equal footing and competition. The only losers would be the drug companies and the veterinarians. All owners and trainers will still be economically and professionally equal.

It's still fun raising and developing a racehorse. I want to see a horse display his natural physical ability without the numerous drugs that are designed to enhance his ability artificially. In Germany, it is not acceptable to breed a stallion who had been racing on Butazolidin and Lasix. In breeding here, we sacrifice athletic ability and soundness for speed and artificial improvement.

Today, it takes a Kentucky Derby to create a wall of noise as horses are coming down the stretch. At least let's quit looking for chemicals to improve the breed.

Joe Brook - San Francisco

California rule makes stay-at-home fans

Isn't California supposed to be on the cutting edge of progressive ideas and trends? Well, when it comes to simulcasting, California remains stuck in the dark ages.

Almost every track I visit out of state offers full-menu simulcasting to their patrons. Here in California, we get only the races that the powers that be think we should wager on, usually in-state racing and partial cards from two other tracks. Accordingly, I don't go to my simulcast facility much, but rather play from home, where I can bet races around the country that play to my handicapping strengths.

And they wonder why we don't go to the track to bet.

Stephen Roel - Encinitas, Calif.

Rider has a fan north of the border

What's with the owners and trainers at Aqueduct?

For years I have been a dedicated fan of New York's three major racetracks, and lately I do not understand why jockey Pablo Fragoso is not getting more and better mounts.

Fragoso has great hands, rates a horse extremely well, plus has the ability to have patience with a horse. The farther they run, the better he is.

Give him a chance. It will pay dividends.

Ralph Cossettino - Etobicoke, Ontario