11/09/2007 1:00AM

Letters to the Editor

EmailMaryland politics may force racing across the border

So now I read that Maryland's political leaders seem near putting a slot-machine referendum on the statewide ballot 12 months from now, a proposal described in the Nov. 4 article "Slots approval near in Md."

Such a referendum may likely take years to take effect if voters approve. In the meantime, we may be subjected to the righteousness of the evangelicals on the sins of gambling.

The politicians clearly want cover on this issue. What better way to lead than to decide not to lead?

I am a longtime Thoroughbred breeder, owner, and supporter of Maryland racing. I am not a slots-player and, in fact, do not believe slots are the salvation of racing. But Maryland racing is failing, in large part, because it has lost competitiveness with its neighboring states.

Maryland racing contributes several hundred millions of dollars to the Maryland economy in direct taxes on wagering dollars and through its employment, real estate ownership, etc. The state needs racing more than racing needs the state.

I can no longer support Maryland racing in its current form. The neighboring states, plus New York, New Jersey, and Florida, represent superior economic alternatives.

What to do about Maryland? I say throw a switch and turn out the lights. Move the Preakness for 2008 and begin plans to dispose of Pimlico and develop the Laurel and Bowie real estate.

Rather than enduring the futility of taking buses to Annapolis, let's just race and breed our horses in the neighboring states. Maryland's political leaders can then boast that they have kept the state free from the evils of gambling (oh, except for that lottery thing).

The state will still have Timonium, where maybe it could run a big race on the third Saturday in May. And maybe the state could also begin racing at Marlboro or Hagerstown or Cumberland - maybe even at Havre de Grace.

Let's forget about slots. Just turn out the lights. Oh, and next year hold a real referendum - on the reelection of those who caused the loss of racing and the hundreds of millions of dollars that went with it.

R. Larry Johnson - Bluemont, Va.

Florida tracks should turn on dime

Can anyone explain why Florida racing authorities fail to institute the 10-cent superfectas and reduced minimums on other exotic wagers?

The rest of the racing world has agreed customers want this. Florida tracks are missing the boat.

Carmine DeSciora - Hollywood, Fla.