01/24/2003 1:00AM

Letters to the Editor


Toccet story close to home for a trainer

The Jan. 23 story "Toccet doubtful for Derby" told a of a condition known as "bone remodeling" that has sidelined Kentucky Derby prospect Toccet. I would like to share a similar situation that occurred with a horse I currently own.

I race a small string of horses on the Ohio/Kentucky circuit. During the past year I have had 20 horses in the bottom- to mid-level claiming ranks. My horses have made 52 starts and have been victorious on 12 occasions. One thing I have learned is that a horse is not a machine that can operate 24/7. One horse in particular mirrors Toccet right down to the last detail.

I claimed a horse in mid-July who went on to race four times in five weeks. The final two races were separated by only four days. The results were positive: a third plus three consecutive wins. The final victory was on a rock-hard turf course. The brutal schedule took its toll.

After a brief respite on the farm, the horse returned to training. The time frame was similar to Toccet's, and when my horse returned to training, he was off. Tests at the track revealed nothing. A bone scan, however - performed at the same clinic that diagnosed Toccet - revealed the problem. The veterinarian suggested at least 90 days' rest, of which the initial 30 should be in the stall. The horse has improved dramatically and has resumed light training.

It is not only unfair but ridiculous for Daniel Borislow, Toccet's owner, to blame the racing surface at Hollywood Park for Toccet's problem. Both our horses succumbed to a condition that is directly the result of too much racing in a young Thoroughbred. I was seeking one more purse, and Borislow hoped for the coveted Eclipse Award. In the end, both our horses were affected and needed time off. Both, we hope, will return to be successful once again.

The bottom line is that all owners and their trainers must be accountable. We can make decisions not to race when circumstances are not desirable. With the almighty dollar, however, and the rewards that come with it, sometimes greed gets in the way. Many times the outcome is a direct result of our own mistakes, not the other factors that may seem to be the cause.

Randy Linch
Covington, Ky.

Head-to-head Internet bets sap racing's lifeblood

Andrew Beyer's Jan. 8 column, "British weave new web of betting," excellently reported the details behind a successful Internet site, betfair.com, which matches bettors against one another.

As an owner, breeder, and supporter of the Thoroughbred industry, I am greatly concerned about the impact such a business might have on the horse racing industry in the United States. Anyone with knowledge of how the U.S. racing industry operates could reach no other conclusion than that this sort of business is quite possibly the greatest threat the racing industry will face in the future.

State officials, racetrack management, members of the media, owners, breeders, and gamblers alike need to educate themselves and decide the appropriate means of fending off this destructive threat.

Given Beyer's eloquent discourse, most readers probably came away believing this form of betting may revolutionize the industry, while giving the gambler a greater edge and ultimately a better chance of profitability. This is purely speculation, but given Beyer's reputation as a gambler, and his consistent rallies to the defense of this segment of the sport, one can easily see how gamblers will take heed and flock to the site for a look-see. The smaller house commission will inevitably draw in more support, and ultimately this wagering community will grow. Betfair.com will undoubtedly capitalize by offering more American races to wager on, and the lifeblood of the industry - wagered dollars - will flow into other hands.

While betfair.com's "vig" might be less invasive, this form of wagering is no different than placing a bet with the local bookie. Wagering dollars never get back into purses, which ultimately cheapens the product racetracks can supply.

Breeders should fight this because it will ultimately bring down prices. Racetracks have to hate it because it cuts into profitability and their ability to promote the best possible product. Owners must have disdain since it will keep purses lower than they might otherwise be.

Not least, the very segment of the industry this new age wagering seeks to attract, the gambler, should despise it, since its by-product is the endangerment of the sport as a whole.

Anthony J. Perrotta Jr.
Colts Neck, N.J.

Three new exotics would liven up Cup Day

How about three new wagers for Breeders' Cup Day: A pick three on the Mile, Filly and Mare Turf, and Turf; a double on the Distaff and Classic; and a double on the juvenile races.

Besides creating fresh wagers for racing fans, new pools would be certain to generate additional wagering volume for the entire program. The potential for corporate sponsorship of these new wagers is also a possibility:

1. The John Deere Turf Triple.
2. The FedEx Distaff/Classic Double.
3. The Long John Silver Juvenile Fillies/Juvenile Double.

Keith Wagner
Encinitas, Calif.