10/05/2007 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor

EmailLongtime fan of Baeza sees him as victim of state injustice

I could not agree more with Steven Crist's Sept. 23 column, "Lightweight case rightly blown away," concerning the prosecution of Braulio Baeza and Mario Sclafani, two former clerks of scales in New York.

I have been an avid fan of this sport for almost 50 years, and for the last three years have been an owner of a horse or two. During the past 50 years, if someone had asked me to name a handful of jocks who best represented this sport, I am certain Mr. Baeza's name would have been among them.

I am equally sure he has been an inspiration over the years for other Panamanian riders as well as other minorities who have tried to make a living in this sport. During his long career, he was a model of courage, class, and fine sportsmanship. He demonstrated great skill, and in his prime he was the very best in this business.

To think he would cheat the betting public now is, well, unfathomable. He had nothing to gain and everything to lose: his honor and his reputation.

I believe both Mr. Baeza and Mr. Sclafani deserve an apology from New York's governor, Eliot Spitzer. If the governor has half the class that Baeza has, he should do so immediately.

Richard Trechak - Allentown, Pa.

Aging champ a fighter through the years

Good ol' John Henry, by Ole Bob Bowers. I first saw you all those years ago in October of 1981 at Belmont Park. You were 6 years old at the time, and I was 12 years your senior, but you were already the old pro. You won the Jockey Club Gold Cup at 1 1/2 miles and they claimed foul against you and Willie Shoemaker, but of course you were declared the winner. Just like weeks before when you willed yourself to be the first winner of the Arlington Million after they all announced you as the loser.

You never gave up, John Henry, even after the race was run - just as you again defied those who prematurely thought a month ago that your race had run ("John Henry's toughness still shows," Sept. 23).

There have been changes to our game - sheets, slots, and simulcasts - but nothing compares with coming out to the races to see the likes of you, John Henry. Somehow, over 30 years ago, you were aptly named for a folk hero - John Henry, an American legend.

Joseph Muzio - Levittown, N.Y.