08/08/2003 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor

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Seabiscuit filled both hearts and wallets

It's the Great Depression. Money is scarce. Yet the masses flock to see Seabiscuit and wager their undoubtedly hard-earned money on him, in spite of the often short odds and huge weight he had to carry in what were predominately handicap races. For goodness sake, why?

The answer is preposterously simple.

In the 41 races that he ran in which one could bet on him after Tom Smith began training him, he paid a whopping $3.14 return for every $2 wagered to win. With that one simple statistic, which any husband could quickly explain to any wife, there were certainly no familial restraints on a trip to the track. Au contraire.

That's the kind of working-class Thoroughbred hero we need today to restore those glorious crowds we knew in our youth - a pretty sure winner, at a pretty nice price.

Richard Helfman
New York City

Don't attach a stigma to the life of a pony

The Aug. 3 letter "Making a pony of Kona Gold seen as travesty" regarding the possible plan to transform Kona Gold to a lead pony was a bit surprising, and perhaps somewhat naive. The writer admonished Kona Gold's connections as though they were hooking this gelding to a plow. That's hardly the case.

Although he will probably retire to the Kentucky Horse Park, providing a proud Thoroughbred like Kona Gold a useful second career seems to be a very noteworthy endeavor. Anyone who has spent any amount of time at the track can easily see that lead ponies are well cared-for, they enjoy their job immensely, and seem to know they are serving a very useful purpose. What could be better than that?

If someone wants to spend time lobbying about the welfare of horses after their productivity ceases, just read some other letters that have appeared in the Form, and start lecturing the likes of Ferdinand's former connections in Japan.

Steve Hochman
Westminster, Md.

New York trifecta change a good first step

It's good that the New York State Racing and Wagering Board agreed, at least for 90 days in graded stakes, to allow trifecta wagering in races whose fields fall to five betting interests (Belmont notebook, Aug. 3). I agree with Steven Crist's Aug. 2 column, "Layoff question in Whitney," that the six-interest minimum for trifectas be eliminated completely.

On another exotic note: When are New York Racing Association tracks going to offer more superfectas? It is absurd to me that so many tracks offer supers in several races and New York makes a big deal about the last-race superfecta. This would be great revenue for the state and track, plus great fun for bettors. Right now the only way to make money with a minimum investment at a NYRA track is the pick four or pick six.

It would be good to make a trip out to the track more enjoyable for the fans by offering many superfectas a day. Then we would have more chances to make good money for a buck or two.

Jerry Stasiek
Genoa, Ill.