Updated on 09/17/2011 10:57AM

Letters to the editor



Trainer denies whining about claiming game

As an owner/trainer who currently has an 18-horse outfit at Gulfstream Park, I very much enjoyed two letters on Feb. 16: "Winning outfit beating others at their game" and "Envy of others as green as Gill's money." Well, here's how I see it.

Neither I nor my good friend Allen Iwinski is whining, as one letter claimed. Our horses win, they get claimed, my owners make money - bring it on! I have no hard feelings toward trainer Mark Shuman or owner Michael Gill. I have lost nine horses to them so far - seven at Gulfstream and two at Delaware. They have yet to win a race with a horse claimed off me.

I actually thank them, because that's what it's all about, giving a horse all the best care - good training, good feed program - and doing your best to get them to the winner's circle. They get claimed - oh well, good luck.

I do respect and appreciate the money that Gill has invested in horseflesh. Someone who can do that deserves to win, but in a proper manner.

But the thing that gets me is the total form reversal that his horses were producing. Horses who had never showed speed in their lives did. Horses who should have packed it in after being pressed through crazy fractions rebroke and drew off.

Or how about the horse who was eased at Calder, claimed by Gill and Shuman out of that race, and when they ran him back he ran off the screen.

I get sick inside thinking of having to put a horse down, let along cutting one's leg off. It kind of makes you think, doesn't it? It makes you think even more when one of their veterinarians is ruled off. The team went 2 for 22 the week after two of their vets were searched on Feb. 10 - less than a 10 percent winning rate. What a coincidence.

I'm very fortunate to have clients who stand behind my operation 100 percent. They are patient to give me the time that I need to get their horses ready to run. I invest their money as if it were my own. I also take pieces of horses. I don't claim horses with a blind eye - I do my homework.

But it's out of my hands when I invest $50,000 in a horse who unfortunately injures himself in a race. Yes, a horse I claimed on Jan. 12 for myself and others, Carney's Prospect, was unfortunately vanned off. But he is doing very well and he is being taken care of. His injury will not hinder his career, but we will take as much time as he will need to get him 100 percent.

Peter R. Walder

Hallandale, Fla.

Numerous feats make commendable meet

In response to Mike Watchmaker's negativity in writing about owner Mike Gill and trainer Mark Shuman at Gulfstream Park (the "Shuman-Gill hit cold streak" item in his Feb. 19 column), I must say he visualizes half a glass of water as half-empty rather than half-full.

Not only have Gill and Shuman dominated the meet, but they have on numerous occasions made excellent claims to move up horses to run their top numbers.

Instead of telling us about the positives, Watchmaker told us about a five-day losing streak.

He failed to tell us of the $100,000 claim of Sardaukar, who runs first time off the claim to just miss second in a Grade 1 stakes. He fails to tell us of the dominating performance of Highway Prospector to make him the only three-time winner of the meet.

How about the awesome performances of the former claimer Boston Brat in breaking one track record and equaling another, or the great performance of the former claimer Native Heir in winning the Deputy Minister Stakes, equaling the track record and easily defeating Gygistar, number four on the Watchmaker Watch for sprinters?

Gill and Shuman and his entire crew are to be commended for their record-setting performance at the Gulfstream meet.

Allyn Beides

Flushing, N.Y.

Let's not be jealous that it's not our money

Everyone loves success but hates the successful. No other explanation is needed to explain the recent furor surrounding owner Mike Gill's remarkable achievements at Gulfstream.

Gill represents Everyman who wants to win a race. And he does win them. In bunches. Apparently, that's what exasperates so many of the people who secretly enjoy seeing Gill subject to rumor and scrutiny.

Meanwhile, whenever a high-profile trainer has one of his clients' seven-figure animals test positive for a controlled substance, however, that trainer immediately attributes it to a groom's not washing his hands, or the horse ate 12 pounds of jimsonweed from his straw or the animal licked the remains of a cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee. In that event, the trainer appeals the finding until the matter disappears or he pays a minimal fine.

Let Gill spend his money however he wishes. He invests in horseflesh from unraced yearlings to claimers. Once he acquires them, he employs true horsemanship - a quality in short supply nowadays - to succeed.

Bill Kostanski

Greenfield, Mass.

Longden's career made decades-long highlight film

Jay Hovdey's Feb. 9 column in tribute to "Papa John" - the late, legendary Johnny Longden - eloquently summed up this man's extraordinary life. Longden deserves every accolade the sport of kings can bestow upon one of their own. His career spanned much of the 20th century, and he did it all - rode, trained, bred, and owned Thoroughbreds.

Although his training career didn't scale the heights of his race riding, you can't fault the job he did with the two-time classic winner Majestic Prince. Longden had the best interests of Majestic Prince in mind, even on the threshold of a Triple Crown, when he was overruled by owner Frank McMahon and told to go ahead and run the horse in the Belmont against his better judgement

Should racing prove to be a hot motion picture commodity when "Seabiscuit" comes out this summer, Hollywood could not go wrong with the life and times of Johnny Longden. His riding career certainly had a Hollywood ending in 1966 with the electrifying win aboard George Royal in the San Juan Capistrano.

I'm not sure, but I believe I saw his famous last ride at my local theater as a teen on one of those black-and-white newsreels that used to precede the main attraction. There are several "you shoulda been there" moments in the annals of racing. Longden's last ride has to rank high on the list.

They just don't make 'em like Papa John anymore.

Steve Nick

Vinton, La.

New Jersey phone betting overrun with thorns

There are several reasons why offtrack betting and phone account wagering will never see the light of day in the archaic state of New Jersey:

1. The law states that any OTB must have a diner attached.

2. If the OTB is on the other side of the road, you must go to Toledo, Ohio, before you have the opportunity to turn around.

3. All Thoroughbred races will be measured in exits instead of furlongs.

4. Lawmakers have discovered that the Haskell is really named for Eddie Haskell.

5. Tony Soprano says no legalized gambling of any kind until Meadow finishes college.

Fred Ward

Secaucus, N.J.