11/30/2001 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor

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Champions best featured in grand finale

I respectfully disagree with Steven Crist's conclusion that the racing season and thus the championship selection process should be tied to the calendar year ("Note: Year has 12 months," Nov. 25). Why should the calendar be the sole determining factor of what is in the best interest of the sport and its fans? I believe that is why the accounting industry invented the concept of a fiscal year, so that a business could follow a calendar that better suited its business cycle.

Most sports have a championship day that determines the best of the best. Football has the Super Bowl, baseball has the World Series, soccer the World Cup, and so on, while Thoroughbred horse racing has the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championship. It is in the best interests of the owners, trainers, jockeys, and fans that the Eclipse Awards take place as soon as possible after the Breeders' Cup.

The road to the Breeders' Cup and the Eclipse Awards should be heavily promoted on equal terms with the World Series and Super Bowl. The public should be made more aware of the competition between the trainers, jockeys, and horses as it relates to their championship chances.

This is not to say that a trainer, jockey, or horse should be immediately crowned champion or denied such just because they win or lose a Breeders' Cup race. Some championship races could very well be decided regardless of the outcome of a single Breeders' Cup race, much like Jeff Gordon being crowned the 2001 NASCAR champion before the final race of the year based on the points he accumulated throughout the year.

The problem with Crist's solution is that it assumes that the public will remain interested after the Breeders' Cup and throughout the holidays and into the winter months. Unless this reasoning holds true, the late-year races are rendered meaningless. Well, I doubt that the general public remains focused on racing after the championship day. In fact, I think the opposite is true, that the delay in awarding the overall championships has made the Breeders' Cup meaningless and resulted in the loss of significant promotional opportunities for a sport that can hardly afford it.

In "Bet With The Best" (DRF Press), Steve Davidowitz ends his chapter by detailing his racing calendar for 2002. He states clearly that after the Breeders' Cup he is basically done with racing for the year. In my opinion, he makes a lot of sense.David A. Snyder

Mission Viejo, Calif.

Racing's show deserves year-long run

I agree completely with Steven Crist's Nov. 25 column regarding championships being decided on the basis of the entire year, not just the Breeders' Cup.

As the breeder of Forest Secrets, I feel one could almost make a legitimate case that she deserves the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old filly, based on the fact that she won the Grade 1 Acorn (making her the only filly to defeat Test winner Victory Ride), and she beat a better field in the Grade 3 (needs upgrading!) Falls City, because it included Printemps, than the Breeders' Cup Distaff. She also defeated Unbridled Elaine both times they met.

Regardless, championships should be decided based on a horse's accomplishments for the whole year. We have seen some tremendous racing subsequent to the Breeders' Cup, so it would be a shame if it didn't matter.

William Patterson

Lexington, Ky.

Swept Overboard figures as year's top

How could Joe Cardello not include Swept Overboard in his consideration for the "Beyer horse of the year" (Nov. 29)? Swept Overboard's year was remarkable. Through his victory last Friday in the Hollywood Turf Express, he averaged a Beyer Speed Figure of 113 (throwing out his low) for his eight races this year.

His record of 3-3-1 from those eight starts was a model of consistency. The only time he finished out of the money was in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, where he was fourth - only a length behind the winner, Squirtle Squirt, and closing fast. His five losses came by a total of 4 3/4 lengths.

Also, his average Beyer Speed Figure is penalized by his races on grass, which typically will have a lower figure. For his five dirt starts, his average Beyer was 117.5 (again throwing out the low). This far surpasses even Lido Palace.

Further, his one low dirt number, the 104 he earned at Bay Meadows, seems questionable. Swept Overboard and Lexicon both ran the six furlongs in under 1:08 that day. That seems like it should earn a higher number to me, especially since Lexicon is quite capable of posting high numbers when he is alone on the lead, as he was that day.

Thus, Lido Palace should step aside, and Swept Overboard should be anointed as the Beyer Horse of the Year for 2001!

William Keith

Seal Beach, Calif.

Maryland must change: More give, or less take

When the parimutuel takeout was raised in Maryland last year, horseplayers were told that the money would go toward "capital improvements."

Millions of dollars later, there is no apparent capital improvement to the Maryland tracks.

Then it was reported in Wednesday's Daily Racing Form that Maryland Racing Commission has proposed that the money, taken straight out of bettors pockets, might never be used for capital improvements and instead be diverted to purses ("Maryland panel has own plan," Nov. 28).

I, for one, drastically reduced the amount of money I wagered on Maryland racing when the takeout was increased. But I at least assumed that any money I did bet on the mediocre product might pay dividends in the long run with improved facilities.

That apparently will not be the case.

If the Maryland Jockey Club and the state racing commission can't decide what to do with the money, how about doing what is right? Either make improvements to the tracks as promised, or give the money back to the bettors with a reduced takeout.

Will either happen? I doubt it.

This is just another example of horseplayers getting shortchanged. And it's another reason I don't feel too guilty that most of my wagering dollars are now going offshore.

Michael Dempsey

Falls Church, Va.

Pantheon of all sports should include Pincay

Jay Hovdey's Nov. 9 column, "Hey, ad guys, pitch Pincay," was right on the point. Hovdey ended by wondering how "the game can figure out a way to market its finest resources." Consider this: At 54, Laffit Pincay Jr. is, today, one of America's greatest jockeys. His accomplishments border on the phenomenal when one takes into consideration his effort to maintain his weight, combined with his age causing some trainers and owners to choose younger, lighter riders.

Somewhere, someone can surely come up with a "conversion chart" to measure Pincay's record 9,183 (and climbing) victories against such standards as Henry Aaron's 755 home runs, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 38,387 points, Walter Payton's 16,726 rushing yards - you get the idea.

Couple Pincay's achievements with equal doses of humility and class, and you have an individual worthy of the highest award his profession can bestow. Maybe Hovdey said it best when he declared Pincay "a one-man dynasty." That seems to place him at his at the proper level of recognition.

Harry T. Mangurian Jr.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.