06/19/2003 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


Jockey logos cheapen image of a proud sport

Jerry Bailey seemed annoyed about fans booing Empire Maker after his stirring win in the Belmont. Did it ever occur to Bailey that perhaps fans were booing him?

Had I been within earshot, I would have added my voice to the chorus. Why? Because of his decision to sell out and cheapen the sport that has been awfully good to him.

Wearing advertising on his pants made Bailey look like a foolish billboard ("Visa irked by jocks bearing ads," June 13). And, according to the rules, Juddmonte Farms, owners of Empire Maker, had to agree to Bailey wearing the advertisement. Bailey is supposed to be the eminent rider of our times, and Juddmonte the eminent breeder. If neither protects the tradition of this fine sport, then who will?

In my opinion, jockeys wearing advertising on their pants is classless.

As a fan there is something I can and fully intend to do about it. I will not bet on any race where a jockey wears advertising. I will boycott the products of those companies who pay jockeys to wear the advertising. I hope all the people who support this great sport will do likewise.

I can only hope that Bailey and others reconsider their decision, that state racing boards reconsider the rules allowing such a travesty, and that the owners do not give their permission to any jockey who wants to wear advertising.

The fine traditions of this sport and the dignity of the horses is more important than a few extra dollars in a jockey's pocket.

Dave Siuta
Keedysville, Md.

Billboards on horseback don't belong at the track

How long are racing associations going to allow jockeys to continue to plaster ads all over their pants and look like Winston Cup drivers? Why not just put a poster on a horse's bridle now, or on his tail?

I have been playing horses for 40 years and had always thought that the industry was above caving in to the advertising industry on that one spot. Maybe I'm getting too old. Bailey and racing lost a few points in my opinion.

Max Hancook
Hallandale Beach, Fla.

Day's ride in Foster a hand-crafted masterpiece

Racing fans are very well aware that Pat Day is "king of Churchill Downs," and that, barring accidents, he would appear certain to become the first (and only) jockey to ride 10,000 winners, in a few years' time. But anyone who witnessed the ride that he gave Perfect Drift in last Saturday's Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs would have to agree that it was Day at his finest.

Riding for the first time for trainer Murray Johnson, on a horse he had not ridden before, Day gave Robby Albarado, no mean jockey himself, a lesson in race riding.

Any aspiring bug boy looking for an example of how to rate, pick up, and then deliver the perfect challenge, using just hands and heels without even cocking his stick, to win cleverly by a head, should be compelled to keep a tape permanently on file.

It was a masterpiece that the finest practitioners of "winning cozy" (Lester Piggott, Scobie Breasley, etc.) would have been proud of. And it was a resounding confirmation of Bill Shoemaker's famous dictum that more horses are beaten out of the winner's circle than into it. Not to mention the fact that because Day kept the winning margin to the minimum, a racing secretary cannot penalize Perfect Drift too severely with added weight in a future handicap race.

Robin Dawson
Toronto, Ontario

Weight, not Albarado, made the difference

Mike Watchmaker really missed the mark chalking up Mineshaft's loss in the Stephen Foster last Saturday to a bad ride from Robby Albarado ("Mineshaft's ride cost him the Foster," June 18).

When Albarado asked Mineshaft to run, he responded with a tremendous burst of speed, which in a weight-for-age race would have demolished the field.

The reason that Mineshaft got beaten was because he could not give eight pounds to a very nice horse like Perfect Drift.

The whole reason we have handicap racing is to have an evenly matched field. The racing secretary at Churchill Downs, Doug Bredar, was right on in his weight assignments and should be commended for equalizing these two fine animals and making the Stephen Foster an exciting and bettable race.

Jude T. Feld
Lexington, Ky.

Frankel's remarks make it hard to cheer him on

Bobby Frankel's phenomenal success rate over the years speaks for itself, but his classless remarks after winning the Belmont Stakes with Empire Maker still make me mad, even weeks later.

"They had theirs," said Frankel of Funny Cide's connections ("Rivalry heats up for summer," June 11), "It was time for someone else." Give me a break. Who has had a longer turn at the top than Frankel?

Even before the Belmont, Frankel's comments were confrontational, basically saying that he enjoyed the role of the bad guy. Okay, maybe that was just to add spice to the prerace hype. And maybe after the race he was upset with the fans who soundly booed Empire Maker as he came back to the winner's circle. But what could he have expected, when he cast himself as the bad guy and then crushed the hopes of the locals, not to mention every other average fan in the nation?

Let's see, who do I root for here? The guy who has already won a zillion Grade 1's, the guy whose clients go out and overspend at the sales and on stud fees? The guy who, if one of his horses doesn't pan out, will just reload from his endless stable of stars supplied by people with a bottomless pit of cash?

Or do I root for the guys who scraped together the dough to buy a horse they hoped would be solid at the statebred level and instead caught lightning in a bottle?

When you beat up on the underdog, don't expect accolades.

"They had theirs." What a terrible choice of words. It would have been better for the sport to see a Triple Crown winner than a guy who spoils the party and then gloats over it. After all, he's had his.

Tim Vana
Des Plaines, Ill.

For shut-out Californians, it's a summer pick none

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association is trying its best to promote horse racing, having purchased air time on CBS on Saturday afternoons to show three races live and creating a pick three wager - the Summer Pick Three - with those races to stimulate interest.

Yet, even though California racing contributes to the NTRA, most California horseplayers cannot participate in the pick three. Only Youbet subscribers could on June 14.

Hollywood Park and Bay Meadows could not figure a way to get the Leonard Richards Stakes from Delaware Park into the legal 23 imported races. Television Games Network was not an option because Delaware Park is not a TVG track. XpressBet was was out since it cannot take wagers on Belmont Park from California residents. This was set up again to occur again on June 21 and June 28.

In this case, everyone is a loser: I chose not to watch the CBS show since I could not legally place a wager on the races. The week after Funny Cide brought tremendous coverage and interest to our sport from the general public, racing shot itself in the foot.

Greg Badovinac
North Hollywood, Calif.

Report on NYRA seen as well worth it

Re: "Attorney General blasts NYRA; Schwartz calls it a witch hunt," (June 16). About time! Kudos to New York's Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer; he certainly is correct when he refers to the New York Racing Association's board of directors as complacent. Comatose would have been an accurate description of the board.

The rebuttal of NYRA's chairman, Barry Schwartz, to Spitzer's report was immature - childish in fact - very unprofessional, and not what one should expected from a CEO of a corporation.Wendell Corrow
Barkhamsted, Conn.