11/01/2007 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor

EmailDrop in business not a shocker for this Cup

It shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone to read the Oct. 31 article "Initial BC handle figures show decline from '06," reporting a drop in handle of approximately 20 percent. This year's Breeders' Cup was the absolute worst program ever run in the history of the event. Beginning with the selection of Monmouth Park as the venue and continuing all the way through to the last race on Saturday, everything about it was awful.

For one thing, there are only a handful of North American racetracks that should even be considered for the Breeders' Cup, and Monmouth Park isn't one of them.

For another, if the event is going to be held in late October or early November, then the members of the site-selection committee need to be made to understand that it should be held at a racetrack that doesn't have a good chance of rain or snow on the day of the event.

And finally, now that the event has been expanded to 11 races, four of which are run on the grass, there is no good reason why they cannot hold the turf races at one track and the dirt races at another. By doing so they could always schedule the turf races for Arlington Park, Belmont, Woodbine, Churchill Downs, or Hollywood Park, so that the turf races can be run on one of the few world-class grass courses in North America.

Carson M. Horton - Beaverton, Ore.

Site choice provided geography lesson

I am a lifelong racing fan and horse lover, and once again I am dumbfounded by the way racing continues to shoot itself in the foot. Scheduling the Breeders' Cup in states that do not always have great weather is ludicrous. I commend Monmouth Park management for its effort, but this Breeders' Cup was miserable.

There were horrible track conditions that only a few horses in each race were able to handle. There was cold and rainy weather that kept fans from being outdoors and enjoying the races.

This is racing's showcase day and a chance to attract new fans. The Breeders' Cup should if at all possible be run under dry, sunny weather in either Florida or California. This year's strung-out fields - several separated by more than 40 lengths from first to last - showed that clearly many horses just could not handle the sloppy surface.

Let's have no more northern East Coast Breeders' Cups unless the dates are moved up to early October.

Jeff Richardson - Lincoln, Neb.

Monmouth acted as gracious host

I was extremely impressed with the two-day Breeders' Cup at Monmouth Park, despite the dreadful weather. The management and staff of Monmouth deserve high praise, especially the track's general manager, Bob Kulina.

He and his team worked very effectively with their Breeders' Cup colleagues to present an exceptionally well-run and enjoyable Cup.

Monmouth has earned the right to host the event again sometime in the future.

Michael C. Giorgio - Morris Plains, N.J.

Champion's death a bitter mistake

The connections of George Washington are responsible for the death of a great horse, as reported in the Racing Form's Oct. 31 account of the Breeders' Cup Classic, "Curlin completes spectacular rise." Their actions concerning George Washington are a disgrace to horse racing.

George Washington had no chance of winning the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic. This European-bred grass champion was running for only the second time on dirt. His first dirt race was last year's BC Classic, in which he was foolishly entered. In the 2006 Classic, George Washington finished sixth. Even more telling, David Junior, another great European champion, was hurt in that race on a fast track at Churchill Downs.

How could George Washington's trainer, Aidan O'Brien, make the same dumb mistake twice? Considering the wet conditions at Monmouth Park this year, the 2007 decision was twice as dumb as the first. What made anyone think that this grass runner, whose form had declined from last year, could beat the world's best dirt horses in sloppy conditions? The mind boggles.

George Washington should have been entered in the Breeders' Cup Mile on grass both years. Had he been, he probably would have the lion's share of two $2 million purses. Instead there's a dead horse and little, if any, prize money to show. This stupidity is a terrible black mark on racing.

James Mosher - Ledyard, Conn.

Breakdown leaves haunting question

As an avid racing fan for more than 35 years, I must ask a simple question of the owners and trainer of the doomed racehorse George Washington: Simply, why?

Why did this great athlete end up running his final race, which led to his death on a surface that was not his favorite, against the toughest Grade 1 horses in the world, on a track that was covered in ankle-deep slop, after proving after last year's Breeders' Cup that he had no business being here under those conditions?

Trainers Todd Pletcher and John Shirreffs had the good sense to scratch their horses, Wait a While and After Market. George Washington was a great turf miler, period. He had no business being on that track that Saturday under those conditions, in a race that he was so ill-suited for.

Again: Why?

Samuel Katchen - Union, N.J.

Racing's huge day levels playing field

Todd Pletcher's relative poor showing as a trainer in the Breeders' Cup can be attributed, counter to Andrew Beyer's Oct. 27 assertion in the Racing Form ("Record says go against Pletcher"), by something closely resembling a statistical anomaly.

The only two "can't-miss-it" races any more on any trainer's calendar are the Kentucky Derby and the appropriate Breeders' Cup race. These are the only times all year that Pletcher has to face all the best horses in training. Because of the size and quality of his stable, and the pocketbooks of his owners, Pletcher can choose where he wants to run the rest of the year. His record at picking the right spots for his giant stable is unparalleled.

Bobby Frankel's BC training stats can be understood in the same way. If he and Pletcher win much less regularly on Cup Day than they do the rest of the year, it's not because they forgot how to train horses the month before and remember again the month after. It's because Cup Day is one of only two days a year they don't get to show what terrific handicappers they are.

Jim Dolan - St. Louis

Runner-up a classic in his own right

I realize that Curlin ran a terrific BC Classic and is deserving of compliments. But, how about Hard Spun, who did all the dirty work up front and ran a half-mile in 45 seconds and change.

And, he didn't just "hold on for second," as the Oct. 31 article "Game, set, and match for Curlin," reported. He took second by 4 3/4 lengths!

Hard Spun wasn't picked by most Racing Form handicappers to hit the board in that race. Guess they just weren't watching the same Hard Spun that I was leading up to the Breeders' Cup.

I'd like to see the second-best 3-year-old this year get some well-deserved credit for the race he ran. After all, he also ran in all three legs of the Triple Crown - ran his eyeballs out!

Sandy Swenson - San Diego

Home viewers faced vexing delay

After watching ESPN's coverage of the Breeders' Cup races a week ago Friday, I forced myself to go to the track for simulcast coverage from Monmouth on Saturday. During the Filly and Mare Turf race on Friday, ESPN changed camera angles about 15 or more times. It was like watching a slide show. This totally disrupted getting any perspective of what was occurring in the race. Just because you can do something technically doesn't mean you should do it.

So Saturday I went to the track for the simulcast. I then went home for the Classic on ESPN. There were fewer camera changes, thank goodness - there were probably many complaints. But it took 10 minutes after the Classic to get the order of finish. The saddlecloth numbers were a blur. You could tell who was first and second: the 4 and the 8. The 8 because he led for most of the race, and the 4 because the track announcer said his name. The third- and fourth-place horses were a big question mark, because ESPN zoomed way in on the top two finishers, ignoring the race for third and fourth, so important for exotic wagers.

The order of finish should be put up as soon as it's known, with payoff prices right behind. Don't go and interview the connections of a loser, Street Sense, just because you hyped him to death. Betting is crucial to this industry, and viewers deserve that information in a timely manner. I feel sorry for those who placed their bets and then went home to watch on ESPN.

Bettors are not against the glamour, pomp, and circumstance of horse racing, but they should have the information they need, mutuel-wise, before and after each race.

Raymond Davis - Hudson, N.H.

Trainer's decision showed his heart

Bobby Frankel accepted an enormous risk by advising that Ginger Punch be supplemented to the Breeders' Cup Distaff, which was viewed as one of the event's most competitive races.

Frankel then revealed his true essence by staying at the side of his beloved dog, Happy, rather than attend the pinnacle of horse racing venues. (On my yearly visits to Saratoga, one of the many joys there was seeing Bobby and Happy trackside.)

That decision displayed the highest priority of choice, and that has made all the difference for Frankel over the years. Bobby, we salute you and hold you in the highest admiration. Bravo.

Michael E. Rose - Fort Lauderdale, Fla.