06/27/2003 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor

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Fan objections to ads on riders ignore realities

It was with amazement that I read two June 22 letters ripping Jerry Bailey and his wearing of logos ("Jockey logos cheapen image of a proud sport," "Billboards on horseback don't belong at the track"). Did the first writer truly believe Bailey was being booed after winning the Belmont Stakes because he was wearing a corporate logo? This "fan" vowed to boycott races and companies that are involved with advertisements.

Well, here's a wake-up call. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association just announced two major sponsorship deals for the Breeders' Cup. One is with Dodge automobiles ("Dodge and Nextel sign Cup sponsorship deals," June 25). Race fans might recall the outrage when Chrysler was the Triple Crown sponsor and had its automobiles at the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes. Oh, the horrors.

Another "fan" compared the jockeys to Winston Cup drivers. How terrible would it be if racing came close to reaching the popularity of NASCAR? Maybe more than just than the Visa (note that sponsorship) Triple Crown would attract crowds of 100,000 and decent television ratings, as this year's Belmont did.

Between Television Games Network and the New York City OTB channel, I see more commercials during a day of racing than I ever thought possible. And frankly, some of them are more interesting than the races.

Steve Viuker
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Bailey on wrong page knocking Crown sponsor

Are certain jocks getting too big for their advertising-laden britches? If the Seattle Times of June 13 correctly quoted Wrangler jeans spokesman Jerry Bailey after the Belmont, the third leg of the Visa-sponsored Triple Crown, apparently they are.

"I guess I missed the chapter where Visa invented horse racing," Bailey said.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you! And this from one of racing's most intelligent jockeys.

Kent H. Stirling
Executive Director Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association

Frankel didn't always have world on a string

I guess what really motivated me to respond to the June 22 letter "Frankel's remarks make it hard to cheer him on" was its closing remark: "After all, he's had his."

I was at Santa Anita in the early 1970's when Bobby Frankel brought a barnful of claimers from New York. He arrived at the barn at 5 a.m. for many years to tack up those claimers. It was a very long stretch before he won one of those "zillion" Grade 1 races the letter mentions. Even with a barn full of claimers, you rarely had to van one of his horses off the track.

He didn't solicit those owners with a "bottomless pit of cash" with yuppie charm or glib dialogue. I mean, after all, he did tell Burt Bacharach and Angie Dickinson to get their horses out of his barn.

The clients came to Frankel because he is a great trainer who worked his way up through the ranks of claimers to Grade 1 champions. I can't tell you how many "little guys" Frankel has helped along the way or did something nice for. I am one of them.

Frankel certainly doesn't have a silver tongue. He does have a solid-gold ability to train horses. Get used to his demeanor. He's going to be on top for a long time.

Ron Moore
Grand Prairie, Texas

New York report has errant aim

Re: "Spitzer, NYRA board deeply at odds": I assume that Eliot Spitzer, the attorney general of New York State, is a good and honorable man. I know that Terry Meyocks, the president and COO of the New York Racing Association, is.

I have known Terry Meyocks going on three decades, and only know him to be the most honest, trustworthy, and hardworking person I have met. His integrity is beyond reproach. Like him or not, I dare anyone to prove the man is anything but the most honest. If he has a fault it is naivete in the game of politics. I can only imagine that Spitzer is relying on underlings who, in their zeal to please him, aren't seeing or telling the whole stories.

If the steps to higher political office are paved with character assassinations such as the ones that have been aimed at Terry Meyocks, then the office the assassins so badly covet and pretend to serve isn't worth serving.

Edward Plesa Jr.
Plantation, Fla.

Mutuel clerk calls stereotype unwarranted

I feel compelled to respond to Stan Bergstein's comment in his "Best bet: Lawyers always win" column of June 19. In it he stated that being a mutuel clerk in the state of California is "the cushiest deal in racing, and can lead to comfort, affluence, and security, without undue mental exertion . . . ."

As a part-time mutuel clerk, I can say any money shortages in our banks are taken from our next paycheck. We are often faced with harassment and abusive behavior from customers, and we cope with unbearable work conditions on the California fair circuit, such as excessive heat, no air-conditioning, and extremely unforgiving floors and chairs to sit on.

We are sometimes presented with unintelligible wager-calling - be it from racetrack novices who don't know how to call a wager properly or difficult accents from our diverse ethnic community who attend the races here in California. When you realize that a large percentage of bettors like to wait until the last minute before they come to a clerk, one must realize that there is a great deal of mental exertion required of us and stress put on us.

Has Bergstein ever worked as a mutuel clerk? Does he realize that we now handle six to 12 tracks in California on a daily basis? Did he get this "cushy" idea from his mutuel contacts in the turf clubs at Santa Anita, Hollywood, or Del Mar? Does anyone else think we are owed an apology?

Eddie Lischin
San Jose, Calif.

Justice should be blind but not unseen

In football, baseball, basketball, hockey, or any sport, the referees are always visible and audible. The only sport where the officials are hidden is horse racing.

The referees in all sports make decisions that affect the outcome of the game and determine the fate of bettors. They don't hide in a room, leaving an announcer to explain their decisions. In the NFL, they even openly turn on a microphone and tell the world about their calls, their identities exposed.

I have never in 25 years of playing horses seen so much as a steward's photograph, let alone one of them openly in front of the public explaining a decision. All sports are bet on, so stewards can't claim singular status as potential objects of physical harm from an irate bettor. Their absence from public view paints a scandalous portrait of horse racing. It is small wonder no one wants to come to a sporting event dictated by three Wizards of Oz.

In the interest of full disclosure, when stewards are making decisions on inquiries, there should be video and audio played throughout the racing plant so bettors can see and hear how judgment is made. After all, it's our money involved.

George Russell
Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Who really takes the fall for Bid's Belmont loss?

Horseplayers and owners risk their money, and jockeys risk their lives, but trainers bring little to our table. They should be the last group allowed to revise horse racing history.

After the death of Spectacular Bid, his trainer, Bud Delp, was quoted by Andrew Beyer ("Last link to a golden decade," June 12) as saying that Spectacular Bid would have won the Belmont Stakes and thus the Triple Crown - despite stepping on a safety pin the morning of the race - if his jockey, Ron Franklin, hadn't let him run too fast early in the race.

Joe Hirsch, however, in his American Racing Manual account of Spectacular Bid's campaign, wrote that he felt the main reason for Spectacular Bid's Belmont loss was a long, fast workout on a dead track five days before the race. Hirsch commented on how hard Spectacular Bid was blowing after the workout.

Because of that workout, and because Bud Delp employed Ron Franklin, all the reasons advanced for Spectacular Bid's Belmont failure point to Delp as the architect of that loss.

Joe Colville
Torrance, Calif.