07/19/2007 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor

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Funny Cide's finale seemed perfectly fitted for a national celebration

On July 4, I went to Finger Lakes racetrack, the day Funny Cide came "home." What transpired that day, I'll never forget.

Once the race began that drizzly and misty day, the crowd turned very quiet. Funny Cide sat fifth or sixth all the way around the backstretch, but started a powerful move around the last turn. As he came barreling down the stretch to run down Johnie Bye Night, the crowd absolutely gave a roar so stunning, I had a tear in my eye. He drew away at the finish line, and the people continued their thunderous approval.

Funny Cide was brought back to the winner's circle for the picture and was joined by about 100 owners, family members, and friends. There were so many, the picture had to be taken on the track. More deafening applause from the 12,000 people on hand erupted. It may sound mushy, but you could feel the love.

The whole Funny Cide thing is quite story-book. Some high-school buddies chipped in for a total of $75,000 and got a New York-bred gelding who would win two jewels of the Triple Crown. He beat Arab oil barons with their million-dollar colts, the big, storied breeding farms of Kentucky, and all the rich owners from Florida to California. The game has had many sad tales over the years, like Barbaro's recently, but a Seabiscuit or a Funny Cide can bring out an unequaled feeling.

These horses are so fragile and can get hurt at any time. At 7 years old, Funny Cide had lost a step or two, but we all do. I'm grateful that I was there for his last race.

James Cooke - Rochester, N.Y.

Horseplayers well advised to support lowered takeout

Horseplayers need to show our appreciation to Ron Geary of Ellis Park for the unprecedented lowering of the takeout on the pick four to 4 percent, as cited in Steven Crist's July 21 column, "Two ideas on the right track," along with Laurel Park's lowering its takeout to 11.4 percent across the board.

If we don't support this, we are all losers, as this could show the industry horseplayers support pools with lower takeouts. The ball is in our court.

Richard Murray - North Hills, Calif.

Pools should swell across the board

Giving the horseplayer a break with a 4 percent takeout on the pick four is heresy to the rest of the industry, but a brilliant and cutting-edge marketing strategy.

With more bettors diving into the pick four pool, Ellis Park's Ron Geary may well have also guaranteed a bigger handle on the straight bets in each race, as players "save" with horses they particularly like.

Stephen Roel - Encinitas, Calif.