08/28/2003 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


Stewards speak out over Million DQ

We would like to clarify some of your readers' misconceptions regarding our decision to disqualify Storming Home in the Arlington Million on Aug. 16. In our opinion, Storming Home's actions just before the finish line compromised both of the dead-heated third-place finishers, Paolini and Kaieteur. One of those horses was denied sole possession of third place, or quite possibly a second-place finish. Since it was not possible for us to split the dead heat, it was necessary to place Storming Home behind the interfered-with duo. Whether Sulamani was bothered prior to the finish line or was merely a lucky benefactor of the disqualification is irrelevant.

The hardest part of our decision was determining where the foul occurred. After repeated viewings of the slow-motion pan shot, we concluded that Storming Home began veering out about 25 feet prior to the finish. Once that fact had been established (and after we spoke with the jockeys who lodged objections), a disqualification was mandated by Illinois Racing Board rules.

As always, we appreciate fans' comments and, in fact, encourage them. The outpouring of support we have received from both racing industry professionals and casual bettors regarding our Arlington Million decision has been greatly appreciated.

Arlington Park stewards
Eddie Arroyo, senior state steward
Joe Lindeman, senior state steward
Pete Kosiba, association steward

Defending NYRA, Terry Meyocks

Thoroughbred Racing in New York is important to that state, but its importance transcends the Empire State. A successful racing program of high quality in New York is vital nationwide to those who invest in Thoroughbreds, as well as to fans that appreciate racing conducted at the highest levels. Thus, the current focus being placed on the operations at the New York Racing Association affects all of us in the industry.

The New York Racing Association was formed in 1955 and operates under an unusual business model authorized by state statute. Even under these difficult circumstances, NYRA has delivered a quality product through the years.

A major ingredient of this result has been (and is now) people who have volunteered their time and effort, including the current members of the board of trustees of the NYRA. On this board you will find some of the smartest, savviest, most successful business people in the country. All of these trustees serve without compensation. What they have in common is a deep caring for the horse and for racing. It is reasonable to expect that they will act responsibly and quickly to correct what needs to be corrected.

The appointment of a special oversight committee, chaired by NYRA trustee and horse owner Stuart Subotnick, is a sign that they are taking this responsibility seriously and will move expeditiously. Many of these trustees, in their own businesses, have been successful at recognizing problems, dealing with them and ending up with a better business. I have no doubt that will be the result here.

It is only fair and reasonable, as well as very important to the racing industry nationwide, that NYRA be given the opportunity to correct any deficiencies.

Not claiming to be an expert on the inner workings of NYRA, or knowledgeable about the specific events leading to the recent reports, I acknowledge that the above can be characterized fairly as an opinion. But what I know beyond any shadow of a doubt is the honesty and integrity of Terry Meyocks, NYRA's president and chief operating officer. Through the years we have served on several industry committees, worked on industry projects together, and I call on him frequently for advice and counsel. I know his character first hand. He is a person of exemplary behavior and could fairly be described as a man of moderation rather than extravagance.

In fact, if he is extravagant in any aspect of his life it is his passion for racing and the people involved in racing. I am confident that when all is said and done, even those who have not had the benefit of knowing Terry will see the clear and irrefutable truth: Terry Meyocks is an honest man and racing is much the better for having the benefit of his dedication and hard work.

Nick Nicholson
president, Keeneland Association
Lexington, Ky.

Put the blame where it belongs

After reading David Grening's article on Passing Shot's victory in the Personal Ensign Handicap ("Passing Shot scores," Aug. 24), I've lost a lot of respect for Jerry Bailey.

Just a couple of weeks ago he said Wild Spirit could be competitive with Azeri. Now he's crying that he lost to Passing Shot because the racing secretary added five pounds to Wild Spirit, which was justified considering her last two powerful victories.

Why doesn't he put the blame where it really belongs? You have the rail, there's no great speed in the race, you're riding a supposedly far superior horse. Don't you think you should be on the lead? Bailey is a great rider, but he shouldn't blame others for his mistakes.

Marvin Berkowitz
New York, N.Y.

Using medication to level playing field

Some interesting points of view were discussed in your letters of Aug. 24.

I think most, if not all of us, in the racing industry would embellish Dr. Alex Harthill's remarks ("Vet seeking middle ground on medication") in his reference to Dinny Phipps, and it was indeed most interesting for him to admit that drugs have, in some instances, been used to mask illegal drugs. But I do think that Dr. Harthill is doing a little masking of his own with his comments about the European horses participating in the Million using legal medication. I would suggest that they used the medication not because they needed to, or wanted to, but because their connections prefer to compete on a level playing field.

Dr. Harthill also suggests that Mr. Phipps "might not be giving enough thought to the potential pain our noble steeds would be subject to if they were forced into the arenas of their sport when hurting, with no anti-inflammatories and no Lasix." There is no "would." Mr. Phipps's blanket condemnation of medication on race days is an attempt to prevent this practice from continuing.

The Arlington stewards who disqualified Storming Home in the Million were in an obvious "Catch 22" situation and made a difficult decision that could have gone either way. What is not commonly known and certainly not appreciated is that stewards, in most instances, are governed by commission rules applicable to their individual state, and those rules are not always the same. Therefore, you have differing decisions in different states. What is more galling, is that these rules are made up and applied by commissioners of dubious racing experience, if any at all.

There is an attempt afoot to bring about unified medication rules. The same effort should be made in relation to rules of racing.

J. D. Rollinson
Timonium, Md.