06/21/2007 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor

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Belmont draws both rave review and a pan

The greatest screenwriter or movie director would have a difficult time to provide a script in which the leading trainer in money won enters the Belmont Stakes 0 for 28 in Triple Crown events, enters a filly, and beats the males.

The addition of Rags to Riches resulted in attendance of more than 46,000, which likely would have been greatly lower had the filly's connections not made this decision.

The thrilling stretch drive and victory reduced most of the fans I saw to tears of joy, and turned an otherwise projected dull race into one of the most exciting and memorable Belmonts I have ever witnessed in 35 years.

It took immense courage on the part of Todd Pletcher to enter and convince the owners to run this talented filly, and in my opinion this race may generate new fans to this game.

Rags to Riches deserves her Oscar as horse of the year!

Gary Zweifach - West New York, N.J.

Filly's victory somewhat tainted

Having been watching the racing scene since the days of Bold Forbes, one learns how to hedge bets in order to collect. I made a few small bets on this year's Belmont and made a profit of more than $90, so I cannot complain on that score.

For me, though, the race was as phony as the Affirmed-Alydar Travers, and the incident with Shake Shake Shake. Since Garrett Gomez didn't want to ride Hard Spun, the horse's trainer was ill-advised to leave him on the horse. The restraint with which he held the front-runner was disgusting. It was not a true race. Rags to Riches is a fantastic filly - the best around now - but she's no Ruffian. I don't think they want to try her against Invasor.

It is also possible that the 3-year-old male horses are very interested in the Haskell, since the Breeders' Cup will be held at the Haskell track, Monmouth Park, this year. If Hard Spun is entered in the Haskell, his connections might consider Richard Migliore, or Kent Desormeaux - both excellent riders - whom they could have used to make it a true Belmont.

Barbara Cripps - New York City

Players too often treated poorly

While I was in Philadelphia recently, I read an article that the onsite betting handle was way down. I didn't visit Philly Park like I would normally do, because I was frustrated the last time I went. That was about a month ago, and except for the fifth floor and an entirely too-small section by the saddle area, betting was almost impossible.

I go to the track to look at the horses before I make my bet. That's impossible from the fifth floor. I even tried to make my bet outside in the few machines they had. The first one I went to had the screen so scratched up it was impossible to use. With all the tote machines they took out to make room for the slot machines, there must have been several better than what they had outside.

Talk about treating horseplayers like dirt.

Philly could improve things by putting more and better machines outside so at least people could go when the weather was nice. It could also improve its handle by stationing a helper outside to show people how to use the machines. In fact, all tracks could make the experience better for first-timers by showing them how to make the bets.

It doesn't have to be every day. A "Saturday fun day" at the races with some machines dedicated to novices would be a help. Heck, maybe even just the first Saturday of the month. Maybe more people would enjoy the outing.

Rich Wetzel - Cocoa Beach, Fla.

Network could use voice of the people

I would like to apply for the hard-hitting, Howard Cosell-like position that Television Games Network is lacking. I have been going to the races in Southern and Northern California for 30 years. I have known and met many people at the races, and what the fans really want to know, TVG doesn't give.

We the fans don't want to hear from the winning rider who says the same thing all the time: "The horse broke well, and when I asked him for run he gave it to me."

We want someone to interview the losing riders and ask why they quit riding the horse out and why they wouldn't go through the hole, and we want to ask the trainer how he could send out a horse at 3-5 and burn the public's money up without even an effort.

We want to have someone go to the parimutuel department and have them show us where all this so-called late money comes from, and why it lands only on the winning horse.

I could ask these questions with all candor and politeness, and TVG could keep its talking heads whose primary function is to stroke the egos of owners, trainers, and jockeys. They leave the show void of facts the public deserves.

I might be hated by the horsemen and jockeys, but the betting public would love the network for hiring me, and the ratings will prove it out. Come on, like the old song says, "Give the people what they want."

George Russell - Thousand Oaks, Calif.