11/30/2007 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor

EmailTone down the praise for Dickinson and synthetic surfaces

I read the Nov. 15 issue of Daily Racing Form and came away with the impression that Michael Dickinson must be something of a cross between Mother Theresa and Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons. The cover article "Trainer goes from horses to courses" and Dick Jerardi's column "Dickinson true Hall of Famer" would certainly point in that direction.

While I am sure that Dickinson is a noble horseman, my years of handicapping have given me the impression that his entrants seemed to always be coming off a layoff. His accomplishments with some of them were astounding yes, however, my undocumented evidence resonates with big race, layoff, big race, layoff. I find it more than ironic that he is pushing a synthetic surface.

While I must admit that so far I hate the way races are run on the stuff, I'm not sure that I'm a baby seal killer for that. I feel the rush to install the tracks was unjustified when myriad other things could have caused many breakdowns (drugs, under-raced horses, mid-winter racing, etc.). California racetracks are from the same political cloth as banning trans-fats from your Big Mac: Don't know if it will work, but it looks good in the papers.

Before we install the recycled tires in Saratoga, can someone do the research to prove it is safer than God's own creation?

Russell A. Weber

Amityville, N.Y.

Eliminating weights: Better think it through

I found it difficult to follow the central argument of Steven Crist's Nov. 25 column "Time has passed for weights in stakes."

Is it that the weight spread has become ridiculously small due to timid racing secretaries essentially "bribing" the top horses by penalizing them minimally? Is it that the weight spread is often determined illogically?

Okay, I get it - even if the weights were assigned logically and aggressively, Crist opposes "handicapping" the best horses.

I do feel he is kidding himself if he thinks that equal weights for major stakes races will not reduce field sizes. It appears that some of the examples he cites are of allowance-type conditions, as opposed to a subjective assignment of weights by a racing secretary. This leads to my main question: Is Crist opposed to weight differentials of any kind?

This would certainly make condition books much easier to write, but I think the consequences (intended and unintended) would need serious consideration.

Finally, how about weight for age? Should a 3-year-old have to run in April at equal weights with older horses? For that matter, should apprentice allowances be abolished?

Bernie Schaeffer

Cincinnati, Ohio