05/31/2007 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor

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Passing the Belmont a solid decision by sage horsemen

No one should pressure horsemen to run horses, if for no other reason than the memory of Ruffian and how much racing desired the Ruffian-Foolish Pleasure match race as a shot in the arm. Horses are not machines, and with them less is most often more.

Owner James Tafel and trainer Carl Nafzger had the best interest of Street Sense in mind last week in deciding what his next race should be ("Street Sense out of Belmont," June 2). How refreshing! They will continue to manage their horse without being perturbed by outside pressure, including from certain critics in the press - who may be near horses only a few minutes per year - telling the world what is best for racing and even what is best for Street Sense.

Because of their conservative equine management and lack of ego, Mr. Tafel and Mr. Nafzger have offered us significant gifts with Street Sense: a victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, a victory in the Kentucky Derby, a thrilling Preakness, and the promise of more. They have offered inspiration on how to best manage a horse for classic success with a well-adjusted homebred champion. They deserve only praise and gratitude for elevating the sport. If they were the rule, no one would think that Street Sense needed to run in the Belmont Stakes to save racing.

We will have to wait, but when we watch Street Sense run again, he will be on top of his game. This is what's best for racing.

Christine Picavet - Alto, N.M.

Hall ballots ignore essential element

Jay Hovdey was so right when he made the case in his June 1 column, "Hall process needs overhaul," that the election process for determining Hall of Fame membership needs to be changed.

For instance, in the contemporary female category this year, Inside Information, Mom's Command, Silverbulletday, and Sky Beauty should not have been "competing" against each other because they were on the ballot at the same time. Mom's Command was elected. She certainly deserves induction. But that should have absolutely no impact on whether Inside Information, Silverbulletday, and/or Sky Beauty also merit election. As Hovdey wrote, "Either they are worthy of the Hall of Fame, or they are not."

Because the Hall of Fame process has been so poorly handled, how about trainer Mel Stute, who has been on the ballot numerous times? Voters have not been able to decide simply whether or not Stute should be in the Hall of Fame on his own merits. Instead, in 2001, Stute was on the ballot with Richard Mandella and Sonny Hine. Mandella received the most votes. So Mandella "won." It's ridiculous that Stute had to "compete" against Mandella.

In 2002, Stute was on the ballot with Buddy Delp and Sonny Hine. With the trainer of Spectacular Bid on the ballot, Stute again had virtually no chance. Delp "won."

In 2003, Stute was on the ballot with Sonny Hine and John Veitch. Hine, who previously had to "compete" against "winners" Mandella and Delp, "won" himself that year.

In 2005, Stute was on the ballot with Dale Baird, Gary Jones, John Veitch and Nick Zito. Not surprisingly, Zito "won."

There are those who think Mel Stute should be in the Hall of Fame. Others disagree. But this is the issue - and the only issue - that should be decided by the voters. Stute and everyone else should not be penalized by who else happens to be on the ballot.

And, by the way, why are there only jockeys, trainers, and horses in the Hall of Fame? I believe the Hall of Fame also should include owners.

Jon White - Monrovia, Calif.

Resurgent gelding shows much heart

Everyone has seen the "Wizard of Oz" and we all know the characters, Dorothy and Toto, Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, and of course, the Tin Man

But in Thoroughbred Racing it is a 9-year-old gelding - The Tin Man - who has taken center stage, and who could very well turn out to be a horse for the ages.

Since The Tin Man's return to the races in late 2005 after near-retirement, he has proved over and over again that he is like a bottle of wine getting only better with age. He has won 6 of 7 races since then, including three straight Grade 1s and two Grade 2s, with his only loss coming in the Grade 1 Dubai Duty Free.

His latest eye-opening performance came in this past Memorial Day's Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile. It was, to say the least, a brilliant, stylish, charismatic win by the 9-year-old gelding. Keeping in mind that the mile isn't even his best distance by far and the fact he was coming off of a seven-month layoff, all I can say is: brilliant.

Let's take our hats off and give trainer Richard Mandella and the owners of The Tin Man some big-time kudos here. After all, it's their patience, devotion to the sport, and brilliant managing that has all come together for this wonderful display of horsemanship in combination with this horse.

I firmly believe no other trainer-owner combination could have ever accomplished such a feat as they have with The Tin Man. I salute them all.

Salvatore James Coriale - Saratoga Springs, N.Y.