11/16/2007 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor

EmailUnquestioned scratches cause irritation for horseplayers

I read the reason the testing of scratched horses at Churchill Downs was canceled is because of trainer and veterinarian complaints ("Churchill drops test policy," Nov. 16). When will track management stop kowtowing to trainers?

Why do trainers have carte blanche to scratch horses they entered? Churchill offers nine, 10, or more races per day during a meet, and trainers enter their horses supposedly ready to race.

Churchill doesn't cancel the race when entrants are reduced by scratches to, say, four. So why is a trainer allowed to screw up a race for the bettor without question or penalty?

At the very least, a scratched horse should serve a 10-day suspension - to get well. not to appear again as an entrant the next day or so, which is the norm.

I have a feeling that an implementation of a 10-day suspension would result in a dramatic drop in scratches.

Imagine, Churchill doing something with the bettor in mind. Golly.

Wendell Corrow - Barkhamsted, Conn.

Valenzuela's efforts a positive example

Jay Hovdey's Nov. 4 column on Patrick Valenzuela, "Out a year, P. Val rides again," infuriated me in light of the fact that Patrick is not coming back from suspension, but an injury.

In a sport full of corruption, particularly in high-profile trainers and no meaningful punishment, Hovdey saved his ire for a jockey who gives his backers 100 percent every time. If Valenzuela can't win, he knows bettors may have his horse in the other slots and tries to get the highest placing possible.

Greg Hill - Martinsburg, W. Va.

Guidry ought to stay part of the game

I for one hated to see Mark Guidry retire ("Guidry wants to stay in game as steward," Nov. 10).

Guidry may have flown under the radar most of the time, but he has always been a terrific ambassador for the sport of horse racing. I hope some track offers him the job he so richly deserves.

I always loved to see his smiling face at Saratoga, and he always made time to sign autographs for the kids, the future of our sport.

Good luck, Mark. I wish only good things for you.

Carolyn Beverly Kenney - Benson, N.C.