Updated on 09/17/2011 10:59AM

Letters to the Editor

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NYRA funding of retired exec needs explaining

That the New York Racing Association's board of trustees chose to give $7,000 a month plus expenses to Kenny Noe Jr. because of his service to NYRA and racing in general is an absolute disgrace ("Flap over Noe payments," July 12).

Noe may have helped the owners and trainers, but he was the horseplayer's worst nightmare. It was on his watch that the takeout on exactas, quinellas, and daily doubles went from 17 to 20 percent, in effect costing the average horseplayer several thousand dollars a year and forcing many big players to go to Las Vegas or offshore outlets, where they could get rebates to survive.

Does NYRA's board of trustees have the power to give stipends to anyone and for any amount it pleases? And why is someone like St. John's basketball coach Mike Jarvis appointed to the board of directors? Does he even know the difference between a fetlock and a furlong? Do any of them?

Why not appoint a horseplayer to the board? At the very least the racing public should be made aware of what goes on at board meetings. Are members answerable to no one? Do they even keep minutes?

Barry Schwartz, NYRA's chairman, owes not only the state authorities but the racing public an explanation for this exorbitant gift to Kenny Noe Jr. Maybe it's time to audit NYRA.

Robert I. Bierman
Forest Hills, N.Y.

Taxation law singles out bettors unfairly

Andrew Beyer's July 3 column, "Maryland taxes a tough beat," recounted the burden put upon horseplayers to show a year's net loss by filing itemized deductions on their tax returns.

But perhaps two-thirds of taxpayers do not itemize deductions on their federal returns and are therefore unable to reduce their gambling winnings via that route. As a result, whatever winnings have been reported on W2-G forms are subject to income tax without any offset for losses.

This punitive treatment of horseplayers is in stark contrast to other forms of speculation, where investors are at the very least allowed to recapture their capital investment before determining profit or loss, and taxation comes into play only after a true profit has been realized. A horseplayer can bet $1,500 into a pick six, get a return of $1,300, and, in the absence of itemized deductions, have to pay income tax on the "winnings" when, in fact, he had a loss of $200.

It's little wonder that in such an unfair environment that chicanery is prevalent when it comes to finding surrogates - "signers" - for winners.

Richard Bauer
Irvine, Calif.

Backstretch checkpoints would curb drug abuse

As a longtime horse player, I thought Andrew Beyer's July 11 column, "Stakes committee takes on drug use," really hit home. I have been noticing that strange things seem to happen in races around the country more and more each day. Logic is almost out the window in handicapping.

I only see one solution. All racetracks need to adopt a type of security similar to what was instituted at U.S. airports after 9/11. Trainers, veterinarians, owners, and employees could enter freely after going through security. Pockets and bags would be checked, as at airports. Vets giving drugs would need to submit paperwork describing the drug and show it to a security person who would witness the administration of the drug. All persons entering the barn for any reason would go through this process.

I will guarantee this would clean up illegal drug use on horses.

Horse racing officials often claim hardship in attracting new fans to the game. Well, it's small wonder that's so if potential new fans know only about a Breeders' Cup pick six fix or something else sordid that makes the news, like the talk of illicit drugs.

Larry Hasenberg
Medford, Ore.

Let Azeri put history ahead of co-ed competition

It was good to read that Laura de Seroux, Azeri's trainer, called the proposed idea of a match race with Congaree "absurd" (Hollywood Notes item, July 17). The question basically remains: Should Azeri face males or continue her dominance among females? Keep in mind that breaking the record of 16 consecutive victories held by Citation, Cigar, and Mister Frisky is well within her reach.

This is a no-brainer to me and probably to all those involved with Azeri: Keep her on the path of breaking the record for consecutive wins. As it is, Azeri should be undefeated right now, with her only loss coming in her first graded stakes at a distance she had never been before. She was beaten only a length with a brutal four-wide trip the entire way.

The magic number of 17 consecutive victories is well within Azeri's grasp. Her running against males is something we all would like to see, and might be great for racing. But this isn't Annika Sorrenstam taking on the male PGA tour, with nothing to lose. Azeri has everything to lose facing males because of the possible historic repercussions.

Salvatore James Coriale
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Meddling stewards disrupt the sport's order

I have been going to the track for more than 40 years, some years every day. As you can guess, I have seen quite a lot, from jockeys caught fixing races in the 1970's to the more recent sponging tricks in Kentucky.

I can take the short fields, and even though it burns me up when they take races off the turf on fine days, I can take that, too.

I don't get mad when a winning horse's odds drop after he hits the wire.

I can take the post parades when the horses are blocked by outriders when you try to get a look at your horse at the simulcast center.

I can take some tracks who take out 17-plus percent - thank goodness for the New York Racing Association, which charges 14 percent on straight bets.

I can take tracks that have built huge structures that block my view of the backstretch.

But the one thing I can no longer take is the constant meddling by the stewards of the order of finish. They show the replays over and over, and even fans who don't have an interest in the decisions can't believe what is done to the order of finish! Just look back at last summer's meets at Saratoga and Del Mar and hope there are no repeat performances this year.

Victor Gelsi
Vineland, N.J.

Bailey's critics are off the board

People who disparage Jerry Bailey, such as the writer of the July 13 letter "Sponsor deals show priorities are misplaced," should be ashamed of themselves.

The last time I looked, Bailey was the nation's leading rider in purses earned. So as an owner, it's always an honor to have him ride your horses. But much more than that, he is the consummate horsemen according to the classic definition: gracious in defeat, and humble in victory.

Simply put, Jerry Bailey is the greatest money rider to answer the bugler's call since Eddie Arcaro.

Perhaps the people who knock a rider like Bailey also bet against him . . . and then replenish their losses by using their Visa card at the nearest ATM.

Rick Warren
Brightwaters, N.Y.