11/23/2001 12:00AM

Letters to the editor



Analyst fuming over bad math of Big A payout

Many thanks to Mike Watchmaker for exposing the travesty that took place with last Thursday's pick four at Aqueduct ("Two sites pounded low-paying Big A pick four," Nov. 21).

I am a regular pick four bettor and had made the wager at Aqueduct that day. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending upon how you look at it), I did not have Barrage in my spread that day (I did have the winners of all three other races and the runner-up in the Barrage race).

Needless to say I was dumbfounded when I saw the prospective payoffs posted before the last race. There was just no way that they should have been that low.

Watchmaker wrote that the parlay would paying more than $5,100. Well, I have done statistical analysis on nearly 1,000 pick four since the bet came on the scene and have never seen a deviation this severe.

Pick fours typically are overbet on combinations that include favorites with odds below 2-1 and significantly underbet in combinations that do not include any favorites. Based upon the data that I have, last Thursday's Aqueduct pick four should have paid between $8,000 and $10,000. That it paid $1,070 indicates that something more than just statistical variations were at play.

Whoever pulled this off was also either very lucky or extremely well-informed about the probably payoffs. Assuming that these were all made as $1 bets, the tickets were not immediately reportable to the Internal Revenue Service, and those cashing in didn't have to worry about figuring out how to deal with faking the ID on 120 or so winning tickets.

Mr. Watchmaker, keep the pressure on to figure out what the deal was here. There is nothing that steams a handicapper like me more than seeing someone pull off something like this.

Glenn Magnell

Cornwall, N.Y.

A fan's wish list includes condolences

Some thoughts as the season winds down.

1. This year's Breeders' Cup races was superb from a racing standpoint. Too bad no one watched on television. But then who cares. We saw it and it was the best ever. That is not to say, however, I am not saddened by racing's demise, but until Frank Stronach, Churchill Downs, the De Francis operation, etc., figure out what "fan-friendly" really means, they get no sympathy from me. The New York Racing Association and Keeneland are starting to get it, but I doubt too many greedy owners will ever see the light.

2. It's time the Breeders' Cup begins to recognize some past stars, equine and human, by each year honoring selected winners of past Cup races. Every year a horse, trainer, jockey, and owner could be saluted. Not just any past winners mind you, but the great ones. My first nominee would be Da Hoss, the greatest champion of them all.

Miesque, Lure, Tiznow, Lukas, Fabre, McInally, Whittingham, Day, Bailey, Paulson, Young . . . you get the picture. Television people could do a bit on the honorees each year, but don't overdo it. There are only so many great ones.

3. Speaking of television, could the cameraman at NYRA please refrain from trying to pan the whole field as they run up the backstretch. Ants racing is not my idea of good TV.

4. Would someone please tell the National Thoroughbred Racing Association to get some fans (read: bettors) on its board? Maybe then they would figure out what is really going on. Invite some of us in for a session. No hostilities, just some honest feedback. I dare you.

5. Back to the Breeders' Cup. Would anyone support a split card? One day of dirt racing at one venue: two Juveniles, Sprint, Distaff, Mile, and Classic. And one day of turf at another location: Sprint, Fillies and Mares, Mile, Classic, and a good old turf marathon. The dirt races could be run all over the United States, while the turf racing could be held at Belmont and Woodbine, and perhaps someday Newmarket, Ascot, or Longchamp.

Lastly, to Randy, Scotty, the Schulhofer stable, and all the connections of Exogenous: We'll miss her too.

Ron Lee

Scarborough, Me.

Tiznow displayed the essence of greatness

Tiznow's presence on the racetrack was foremost of my experiences while attending the Breakfast at Belmont program on the Sunday before the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. Upon first sight of his magnificent conformation and stature, I knew that he was one who was to be reckoned with. Not since the legendary Forego and Kelso has a horse appeared with that commanding appearance on the racetrack.

Tiznow's antics in training were well reported in the racing media. By chance, I witnessed his finish in the workout on the succeeding Wednesday. In a word, it was breathtaking. It was as if this animal had wings that spanned the breadth of Belmont and legs of lightning branding the surface for his own domain - Pegasus, personified.

Tiznow's remarkable, unprecedented, racing feat of two Breeders' Cup Classic victories is the substance of living legend. His human connections are to be commended for their considerable accomplishment, and now for providing racing with the opportunity to enjoy Tiznow's progeny in the years ahead.

Alan Grant

Cliffside Park, N.J.

Selective simulcasting is shoddy marketing

After spending a lot of time studying the Hawthorne past performances, I showed up at Beulah on Saturday afternoon only to find Hawthorne races are not being carried. I was told Hawthorne races will be shown twice a week (during the week) at Beulah. Wonderful - I can only come on Saturday and Sunday.

I take the time to study the Form, and I can't even use one of the major tracks. I was born and raised in Chicago, and I want to play the Chicago tracks.

Horse racing constantly talks about marketing, but racetracks remain their own worst enemies. Racing worries about attracting new fans but constantly irritates its current fans with ridiculous in-fighting.

Tom Croarkin

Columbus, Ohio

Golden State cooking golden-egg goose

I have worked in the operations department of Bay Meadows for 25 years. My whole family makes their living on the racetrack. My husband and sons are trainers, a son-in-law is a jockey, and my daughter works in operations. The track has been our home and our life.

Now the city of San Mateo seems perfectly willing to stand by while the Bay Meadows property is bulldozed by real estate developers. What happened to tradition and loyalty? Don't the town leaders realize than once you lose a good thing you can never get it back?

Government seems to be trying to kill racing in California. For one thing, workers' comp is allowed to hurt horsemen. If there is a claim against them, rates go so high that horsemen go broke or leave the state. Government-approved unionization of backstretch workers presents another problem. We couldn't afford to pay them before, how do union wages add up?

Casino gaming is competing for the gambling dollar, and racing must have equal opportunity to compete. Racing is booming at some East Coast tracks because purses are subsidized by money from slot machines, and some California trainers have been lured away. We must be allowed to compete. The legislature must allow California's public the choice not to go to Nevada, but to have fun near home instead.

This state's senators and representatives, and its town supervisors, are breaking up this old gang of mine, and I don't like it.

Sue Ann Arterburn

Woodside, Calif.