01/10/2003 1:00AM

Letters to the editor



Phipps, Battle: None more deserving

The sport of Thoroughbred racing is blessed to have a high number of worthy candidates for the annual Eclipse Award of Merit, including Penny Chenery, as Jay Hovdey made very clear in his column of Jan. 5, "A living Penny Chenery merits reward."

But building a campaign for Penny Chenery does not open the door to disparage the accomplishments of this year's two winners. Hovdey wrote that the sport "blew it" by not honoring Howard Battle and Ogden Phipps in prior years.

It is chilling and unfortunate that Hovdey's column referred to this year's winners as "not just two ordinary guys," but rather "two dead guys." These are two men who truly loved our game. They both strived to improve the sport of Thoroughbred racing.

Battle lived and breathed racing every minute of the day as a respected racing official and as an accomplished artist. He had a huge presence through the decades, serving the industry on numerous committees.

Phipps was equally as passionate for our game. He was the past chairman of The Jockey Club, founding trustee of the New York Racing Association, an improver of the breed, and an icon in our sport.

Both men were great ambassadors for Thoroughbred racing.

It is good-natured discussion to debate Horse of the Year, champion jockey or any Eclipse Awards, but questioning, after the fact, the merit of these two men who have contributed mightily to our sport was unnecessary and in poor taste.Terence J. Meyocks

President and Chief Operating Officer

New York Racing Association

No disagreement - at least about Chenery

I was rather disturbed by the total lack of taste in Jay Hovdey's column of Jan. 5.

While I agree that Penny Chenery may be more than deserving of an Eclipse Award of Merit, I couldn't believe the callous viewpoint of Hovdey. These "two dead guys" - Howard Battle and Ogden Phipps - still have families who are very much alive and don't deserve the memories of their loved ones treated with such disrespect.

Think about Battle's widow and how truly touched she must have been to have such an honor bestowed upon her late husband. Hopefully Hovdey's comments will in no way diminish this award in her eyes.

As for questioning the contributions of Phipps, a man who didn't race Secretariat because he picked the wrong side of a coin, what can a person say?

Perhaps the awards committee should take Hovdey's multiple little statues from him and award some fine women writers.

Come on Jay, next time, show a little of Penny Chenery's class.

Kim Pratt

Bensalem, Pa.

Pair's contributions put life into the game

I have never read an article that started out so innocently and ended so venomously as Jay Hovdey's column of Jan. 5.

I have no problem with Hovdey championing Penny Chenery. Secretariat, arguably the greatest Thoroughbred of all time, came along at a time when this industry, this country in fact, was desperate for a hero. Secretariat was happy to oblige, and having Ms. Chenery at his side only added to his appeal.

My problem starts when Hovdey questions what Ogden Phipps and Howard Battle did for the game in 2002.

They did plenty.

Phipps bred Storm Flag Flying, winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and two other Grade 1 stakes and a virtual lock for the Eclipse Award for 2-year-old filly. The Breeders' Cup victory made her a third-generation Breeders' Cup winner on the dam side of her pedigree. Her mother, My Flag, won the 1995 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, and her grandmother, the undefeated Personal Ensign, won the 1988 Distaff. Phipps bred those two stars as well.

While Phipps's accomplishments are obvious, Battle's aren't.

For over 30 years, Battle helped supply fans with some of the best racing around. The years he served as racing secretary at Saratoga produced some of the finest racing the old Spa has ever seen.

The funny thing is that the world may have never even heard of Chenery had she not been victorious in the famed coin toss in which her Meadow Stable won Secretariat and the loser won a filly named The Bride. The loser was Phipps. And while "loser" is hardly a way ever to describe Phipps, I guess it's better than "dead guy."

Anthony J. Stabile

Howard Beach, N.Y.

List of trainer finalists reveals voting problems

Having been an owner and handicapper for over 20 years, I have developed a strong interest in the Eclipse Awards and especially the trainer category.

I am shocked at the selection of Laura de Seroux as a finalist for the Eclipse as the best trainer of 2002. Bobby Frankel and Steve Asmussen were no-brainers to be among the final three. A great injustice has been done, however, to Bob Baffert: $12 million in purses, 133 wins including two Triple Crown races - and no nomination?

De Seroux's name is known only because of Azeri, who would get my vote for Horse of the Year. De Seroux did a fantastic job and should be commended. It is my contention, however, that she received votes either because of dislike for Baffert, affirmative action, or ignorance by those casting votes. The exclusion of Baffert makes it obvious that the process of determining the finalists is quite political and subjective, and that it needs to be reevaluated.

Anthony Centurione Jr.

Harrisburg, Pa.

When it comes to whining, Frankel wins, hands down

A Bobby Frankel-trained horse has just been defeated. The horse lost because of:

a) The jockey.

b) The other jockeys.

c) The track superintendent.

d) All of the above

A Bobby Frankel-trained horse has just tasted victory. The horse won because of:

a) The trainer.

b) The trainer.

c) The trainer.

d) All of the above.

Is there any way we can replace Frankel's upcoming 2002 Eclipse Award with a more appropriate bronze likeness of a whining toddler?

Linda Shafer

Santa Monica, Calif.

TVG worth giving the old college try

I have to chuckle when I see whiny letters to the editor in the Racing Form critical of Television Games Network's hosts and analysts, most recently the Dec. 29 contribution "Muzak would be better than TVG cacophony."

I'm a junior at Northeastern University in Boston, and my roommates and I subscribe to the Dish network mostly so we can watch TVG and play the races, and it costs less than our old cable package did.

We get races from all over the country (except for now, while Magna Entertainment inexplicably keeps its races on its own network that no one can see) and even replay shows from major circuits so we can track horses and trips. I can't say I like all the hosts, but most are helpful and informative.

So what's to complain about? As someone at the track once told me, "No winning and whining."

Christopher Stango

Roxbury, Mass.