08/24/2007 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor

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Pacific Classic upset really no shocker if you studied

In Mike Watchmaker's Aug. 22 column on the Pacific Classic, "Tough to explain Student Council's win," he wrote, "Perhaps the best way to rationalize Student Council's upset to accept that there is no real way to rationalize it."

Well, there is this rationale.

Student Council exited a Churchill Downs race (beaten by a head) where Brass Hat broke the track record. Two starts back, he had finished not too far behind Wanderin Boy (a legitimate Grade 1 campaigner who finished a next-out second in the Gradeo1 Whitney at Saratoga). Four back, he had been directly behind Grade 1-placed Magna Graduate.

Student Council faced legitimate Grade 1 horses in the Midwest and didn't disgrace himself. Outside of Lava Man, the other 10 entrants in the race have never faced the competition Student Council had.

Even more funny was the assertion that only Thoro-Graph customers were most likely the only ones who scored with Student Council last Sunday. I have been handicapping the races for 20 years using only the Racing Form, noted the tough competition Student Council had faced, and made a nice win wager on him at 23-1.

Consider me a member of the Student Council Fan Club.

Patrick Hagan - El Segundo, Calif.

Groom's value comes to light

All associated with Thoroughbred horse racing have been following the story of Noe Garcia, Lava Man's groom, with great sorrow ("Lava Man's groom seriously injured," July 26). Mr. Garcia lost his left arm in a motor vehicle accident and is no longer able to care for Lava Man.

Grooms are often the most underrated and underappreciated of all workers on the backstretch. I find it noble that a fund-raiser was organized for Mr. Garcia's prosthesis, but Lava Man's owners could have come forward and purchased his prosthesis on a personal level. Mr. Garcia's hard work enabled them to bank more than $4 million. This would have been a perfect way for them to repay him for all his years of hard work.

I find it interesting that Lava Man did not hit the board in the Pacific Classic without his regular groom.

Dr. Sandra Swan - Henderson, Nev.

Synthetic tracks lead to frustration

I have been playing horses for nearly 15 years. That's a short time compared to most others I see at my local simulcast parlor, but I've had enough.

I am growing weary, frustrated, and just plain angry that on top of the normal obstructions we handicappers face, now we have two or three synthetic surfaces that have made it totally impossible to handicap horses.

For example:

1. A maiden sets a track record at six furlongs at Arlington Park despite higher-class races run before this. Special horse, maybe. But a track record?

2. A numerous, almost laughable number of back-to-back riding and/or training doubles, triples, whatever, even though some horses have been never lower than 30-1 or were vanned off their last race. Too frequent an occurrence to be coincidence.

3. Before these new surfaces, the track would post the conditions of both dirt and turf. Now, we get mostly new-surface conditions with maybe a brief flash on turf conditions. Many of us in the West get to the races just in time to play a late pick four, only to find out one or more of the races we bet are off the turf. Thanks again, racetracks.

I'm tired of watching maidens and vanned-off horses set track records. To think I'm looking toward Fairplex.

Andy Moto - Sacramento, Calif.

Examples inspire new coinage

This new era of synthetic tracks needs a new word to cover negative aspects of the rush toward synthetic surfaces, most notably Polytrack, and away from good old-fashioned dirt. The word I have coined is "polyunfortunate."

Examples: Lava Man's terrible performance in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar last Sunday was polyunfortunate. It's polyunfortunate that trainer Bob Baffert and his main client had to leave California to find a dirt track. It's polyunfortunate Del Mar workouts mean nothing because the track changes when it heats up in the afternoons.

It's polyunfortunate veterinarians at Woodbine need to scope so many horses after they breathe the stuff during a race. It's polyunfortunate there's more talk about track surfaces these days than about horses' pedigrees. It's polyunfortunate the historic Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland was meaningless because the early fractions were akin to harness racing.

What do you think? Will "polyunfortunate" stick?

Ivan Bigg - Winnipeg, Manitoba

Some results seem counterfeit

After months of observation, I have concluded that there is only one way to bet synthetic-track races: with synthetic money.

Jim Walsh - Boston