09/20/2007 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor

EmailStudent grateful to his teacher of racing arts

I, like many others, was sad to read that Tom Ainslie had died on Sept. 1 at the age of 89 (Daily Racing Form, Sept 10). I never met him, yet I couldn't help feeling as if I had lost a friend. That's because he had a profound influence on me.

While I was growing up, I would read the Daily Racing Form at breakfast before going to school. If I didn't have a new Form for that day's racing, I would study an old one or an American Racing Manual. Many of those Forms included Ainslie's column, "Practice and Theory of Handicapping." To say I learned a lot from those handicapping columns would be an understatement.

For instance, in a yellowed 1969 Form that I still have, there is Ainslie's Lesson No. 9. He began his column this way: "Comes now a Michigan-bred colt named Mr. Outland. He is guaranteed to make nobody's Hall of Fame, but he paid $14.40 after winning the first at Rockingham Park on Aug. 2, when he should have been no better than 3-1. This qualifies him as living proof that some good souls absolutely refuse to take advantage of the gifts that are contained in the past performance pages of this newspaper."

Ainslie went on to discuss Mr. Outland and that particular Rockingham Park race in depth. Included in the column were past performances for Mr. Outland and some of the other horses in that race.

After reading so many of those columns, I guess you could say I studied under Professor Ainslie at the University of Past Performances. And I thank him for all that he taught me.

Jon White - Monrovia, Calif.

Pioneer's influence benefits all today

It is appropriate that racing's literary leaders have recognized the late Tom Ainslie (aka Richard Carter) as a pivotal pioneer in codifying, updating, and presenting handicapping material.

It should also be noted that Ainslie fought diligently for the basic rights of all horseplayers. He confronted racing associations head-on in this unpopular fight.

That horseplayers now enjoy an improved experience and that most racetracks now have customer service departments are benefits largely won for us by Tom Ainslie.

Jim Bannon - Etobicoke, Ontario

Trainer's hearing warrants scrutiny

I urge everyone in the racing world to treat the upcoming Patrick Biancone hearings with the same intensity given the recent Bill Belichick NFL cheating incident ("Biancone hearing scheduled," Sept 20). There are numerous parallels between the two situations, including the fact that both men are titans of their sport, but with one major difference: To date, Biancone has a documented record of drug violations (and was recently under suspension for another positive), while Belichick had no such record to date.

Pro football, under the leadership of its commissioner, Roger Goodell, appears to be doing everything possible to elevate the integrity of the NFL, despite keeping its head in the sand regarding betting activity on NFL games. Horse racing does not survive without wagering, yet the credibility of the sport doesn't seem to mean a whole lot to the people who cover it, govern it, and bet on it. But here's a golden opportunity for everyone involved in this sport to change that perception.

I applaud the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority on the five-year suspension recently given to veterinarian Dr. Rodney Stewart ("Kentucky gives vet five-year ban," Sept . 19). It was a step in the right direction on the credibility front. Now if the press would treat the Biancone case with the same energy and opinion as a Breeders' Cup race, it just might become a breakthrough in rebuilding the integrity of this sport.

Journalists, please don't let this opportunity pass you by. Racing leaders, work with a model similar to what the NFL is using. My fellow racing fans, pay attention and care about what happens. You shouldn't need a set of odds quoted on all the possible outcomes to capture your interest.

Chuck Seeger - Fort Myers, Fla.

Arlington experience an exemplary one

We spent a weekend at Arlington Park recently and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Kevin Greely, Arlington's racing secretary, asked us to present the trophy for the Honor Grades Stakes, and his whole department did a tremendous job.

We have had many pleasant experiences at Arlington in the past, especially Honor Glide's sweep of the Mid-America Triple in 1997, and were delighted things had not changed. The track has always set the standard for taking care of the fans and making racing special. (Everyone should experience all the kids screaming for the jockeys' goggles after each race.)

All racetracks in America should visit Arlington and make notes about how to focus on the fans.

Bonnie M. Heath III, Kim Heath - Reddick, Fla.

Spa seen in need of some touch-ups

Early this year, my wife and I made the decision to rent a condo for the racing season at Saratoga. We were present for all of the major stakes races and also spent two full weeks there with our two children, ages 15 and 9. We attended morning workouts most days and truly enjoyed our family time together.

Here is a list of what I would change if I were charge of the New York Racing Association and in particular the Saratoga racing season.

1. Open a small area for the fans to enjoy morning turf workouts at the Oklahoma training track.

2. Install flat-screen televisions in place of the old ones in the picnic area and various other locations.

3. Clean up the picnic area by installing paving stones over a drainage system in place of the grass, which turns to dirt after the first week of racing. New picnic tables would also be a good idea.

4. Clean the white fence surrounding the paddock on a daily basis, while maintaining an area for fans to view the horses clear of chairs, tables and other obstacles.

All it would take is a trip to Keeneland, Arlington, Monmouth, Santa Anita, or yes, Delaware Park, to see how fans are treated to a more consistent, enjoyable, and clean experience.

Dan Brackle - Cheyney Pa.