05/10/2007 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


At least one of Derby quintet Preakness-worthy

What's with Todd Pletcher?

He sends out five short horses to the Kentucky Derby who he thought he could work up to the race. Now, he should have five tighter horses ready to take on the Derby champ. Instead, he refuses to run any of them in the Preakness ("Pletcher plotting next move," May 9).

Where's the sense of sportsmanship and tradition? In the past, if a horse lost in the Derby and he came out of the race fit or even fitter then going in, he usually went on to race in the Preakness. Circular Quay, in my opinion deserves another shot at Street Sense.

I did not lose on the Derby, so this is not sour grapes, just someone who loves the game of Thoroughbred racing. We need great races to be just that.

Mike Wilson - New York City

Less isn't more with this breed

The April 27 article "Longer layoffs are becoming the norm" gave rise to the question of whether modern Thoroughbreds are anywhere near as robust as their more recent predecessors. The question seems rhetorical, seeing that an increasing number of horsemen are now embracing the training philosophy that less is more when it comes to conditioning young horses for the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown trail.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and People for Ethical Treatment of Animals may rest easy. No one can make the accusation that these animals have been overworked.

But consider this: Beginning with the year 2000, the last eight Kentucky Derby winners had a collective total of 22 races as 2-year-olds, an average of only 2.8 each. What has happened to modern Thoroughbreds?

Some say that over-racing 2-year-olds is the reason we haven't seen a Triple Crown winner in nearly three decades. Baloney! If that were true, then how would one explain the fact that three of the past four Triple Crown winners - Citation, Secretariat, and Affirmed - each ran nine races as a juvenile?

Also competing in nine 2-year-old races were Riva Ridge, Spectacular Bid, and Real Quiet, winners of two of the three Triple Crown jewels. And Sunny's Halo ran 11 times as a juvenile, proving that after all of his earlier seasoning, two Kentucky Derby prep races were more than sufficient for success in Louisville.

What is causing the obvious decline in the physical capabilities of modern Thoroughbreds? Decades of inbreeding? Excessive medication? Unsafe racing surfaces? A combination thereof? Today's racehorses may be running as fast as ever, but not for nearly as long.

They just don't make Thoroughbreds like they used to. And until the racing industry figures out why, all the slot machines you can shove into racetracks won't make a dime's bit of difference to the ominously foreboding future of the sport of kings.

Jay Richards - Las Vegas

Early retirement the only 'bust'

In Andrew Beyer's May 9 post-Kentucky Derby column, "Street Sense both lucky and good," he wrote that Fusaichi Pegasus was "a bust" following his Kentucky Derby win in 2000. I would like to know Mr. Beyer's definition of "bust."

Following Fusaichi Pegasus's Derby victory, he ran second in the Preakness over a surface that even casual observers could see he did not handle. He did not race again until September, when he won the Jerome Handicap over El Corrdeor and Albert the Great without ever being touched with the whip. He went the opening six furlongs in 1:08 and change, and was hand-ridden by Kent Desormeaux to the wire in a dominating performance.

Fusaichi Pegasus ran in the Breeders' Cup Classic off of one race in 5 1/2 months, and having missed a planned start in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. He was bumped around early in the Classic, and then raced wide on his way to a sixth-place finish. Then it was on to the stud farm with a $60 million-plus price tag.

I don't call that "a bust." I call that a horse who was retired too soon, and who never got a chance to show how great he was.

Justin Dew - Aventura, Fla.

Sport's screen image needs handlers

I was so excited to see Del Mar featured on HBO's hit show "Entourage," as Steven Crist noted in his May 12 column. The protagonists had a great time at the races, and the episode really portrayed the sport in a positive light. That is, until one of them rescued a horse from the glue factory (where most racehorses end up, according to the "trainer" on the show).

The remainder of the show had a subplot about this guy saving the horse and trying to find somewhere for the horse to go so it didn't get killed. It's a sad reality in our sport that we bring these animals into the world but sometimes fail to care for them through the end of their lives. There are many organizations and places, though, for ex-racehorses to go, and real horsemen do not sell their animals to the slaughterhouses.

That said, all racetracks and horsemen need to be accountable for how they present the industry to the uninformed public. I hope in the future industry parties will turn down a script that shows horse racing as the pit stop on the road to the glue factory.

Meggie Ghidella - Oakland, Calif.

Industry infighting pummels the sport

In recent years, the competitive market for online wagering has produced excellent betting sites that I find user-friendly and on the cutting edge of technology. Since the sites offered basically the same wagering opportunities the main choice was which one best fit a customer's needs. Tracks benefited from increased nationwide handle.

So much for a good thing. If a fan wants to wager on a few different tracks, he may be forced to have as many as three different accounts ("Account-wagering battle leaves bettors out in cold," April 29).

While the most ardent gambler will work through this mess, what will happen to the average fan or occasional bettor? The return of track managements fighting with each other shows the narrow-mindedness of those in charge of this industry. Instead of building the fan base and making it easier to watch and wager from home, recent developments can only deter growth.

Racing should leave this type of partisanship to politicians and come together as an industry. Racing can compete by offering the best product possible and let the public decide which sites succeed or fail.

John Rinne - Bradenton, Fla.