09/11/2003 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor

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Spirit of Rose will not fade for generations

On Monday, Sept. 8, new meaning was given to the term "a dark day at the racetrack" with the death of owner, breeder, and trainer Harold J. Rose.

Harold Rose began his racing career in 1951 and still had the vision to follow his heart at an age when many would be considering retirement.

Rose named many of his racehorses after family members, but Hal's Hope was the only one he ever named after himself. On the trip to the 2000 Kentucky Derby, I asked Grandpa Rose why he named Hal's Hope after himself. He said, "When he was a baby, he walked right up to me. I knew he was going to be a winner."

And what a winner he was. In front of a hometown crowd on March 11, 2000, Hal's Hope won the Florida Derby and set the Kentucky Derby wheels into motion for Harold Rose and his family. A winner's circle hardly big enough to hold the number of family and supporters became the backdrop for a prized family portrait. Heaven cheered with us as rain fell upon the family reunion on the carpeted semicircle that day. Rain never felt so good.

Rose never graced the presence of the Kentucky Derby winner's circle, but oh, his feet touched the track. That in itself is an accomplishment so great that only few dream about it and only a handful are lucky enough to experience it.

How many people are privileged enough to spend their days doing what they love? Grandpa Rose did just that, and is an inspiration to us all. Heroes hold a profound meaning for people of all ages and all walks of life. They bridge the gap between ordinary and extraordinary. Grandpa Rose captured the essence of a hero. He taught us what it meant to fly, what it meant to dream. He represented the highest concept of a dream, one with no limitations.

On Saturday, Sept. 20, at Calder Race Course, a half-brother to Hal's Hope, Hopefortheroses, will run in the Foolish Pleasure Stakes. We know that Grandpa Rose's memory will be present. We will all smile for him when Hopefortheroses crosses the finish line. No matter what the outcome of that race, Grandpa Rose's dream will have brought a family of racing fans to the track. We will not only be cheering for a horse that day, be we will be celebrating the true winner, Harold Rose.

The man's passion for horses was so great it was inherited by his sons, daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Horse racing has lost a legend, and we have lost a beloved grandfather and friend. We will truly miss him.

Lynn and Philip Rose
Davie, Fla.

Del Mar match a sorry spectacle

Last Sunday was another dark day for horse racing. Del Mar had promoted a match race as a "battle of the sexes." Does anyone who watched that race think that because his horse walked fastest to the wire, Pat Valenzuela is therefore a better rider than Julie Krone?

I have been an avid fan of racing for all of my 34 years. That's why it disturbed me so much to see how the industry embraced this event. After the race, Summer Mayberry said that she had planned to give Chester's Choice some time off, but she was persuaded to run him by Del Mar's racing office and rival trainer Bob Baffert, who enticed her with "Do you know what kind of publicity you'll get?" (Del Mar Notes, Sept. 10). As if we should be applauding her for doing what's best for her and not the horse.

There's no surprise about what Baffert would be thinking about. Is that what racing has come to - getting publicity at any cost? Was it a good representation of our sport to see a horse go 44.53 seconds for a half-mile, then stagger home in 1:46.26 for 1 1/16 miles under a drive. The winner should have been wrapped up at the top of the lane instead of driven to the wire.

I'm just thankful that we didn't have to witness another Ruffian situation. That was the kind of publicity the sport is still paying for.

Tim McCullough
San Gabriel, Calif.

Valenzuela not alone in anger over DQ

Enough is enough. No one could blame jockey Pat Valenzuela for being "furious" - indeed, fighting mad - over the disqualification of Grinding It Out in the third race at Del Mar on Sept 8, as reported in "Valenzuela, Berrio in fight" Sept 11.

The DQ would have been laughable if it hadn't been so pathetically amateurish and consequential. To disqualify a horse for slightly impeding another horse, before they even enter the stretch, when the bothered horse obviously was tiring at the time, badly enough to finish last, is unforgivable. There can be no question by anybody involved in racing that the bothered horse had no chance to finish win, place, or show. At the very best he may have salvaged fifth place for some purse money. (And I am not even willing to concede that.) But even so, the betting interest of the public should come before an owner's purse money for a theoretical fifth-place finish.

Robert L. Shelton
Palm Springs, Calif.

For serious race fans, no day at the beach

Let the truth be known: Andrew Beyer simply prefers the beach to the mountains, as evidenced by his Aug. 31 column, "Which is best: Del Mar or Spa?"

Unless I have missed the point, Del Mar and Saratoga conduct Thoroughbred racing, not scenery-watching.

There is no comparison: The mountains of New York have better racing than the beach of California. The Saratoga meeting is the Super Bowl, World Series, and Final Four all compressed into 36 days of excitement.

When is the last time the beach had a one-day handle of more than $39 million, with full fields (some races needed two program pages), and weather your could die for? That was Travers weekend this year.

There are not many tracks that can accommodate in the neighborhood of 60,000 fans and still give them the ability to bet with five minutes to post time, as I found to be the case at Saratoga on Travers Day. Granted, the backyard was crowded and difficult to walk around that day, but the second floor of the clubhouse was manageable.

So let Beyer shun the mountains. Let him rent his condo with the balcony in the upscale beach community at Del Mar, ride his bike on the beach, and watch the waves. The mountain boys in the small "college town," as Beyer put it - home to the National Museum of Dance and whose Performing Arts Center presents the New York City Ballet and Philadelphia Orchestra - will endure the heat, humidity, and rain in exchange for some occasionally great weather, deliciously cold beer, and renewed friendships from years past, all the while participating in the greatest Thoroughbred meet in the world.

What makes this game great? Everyone has an opinion.

Joseph R. Monaco
Ridgefield, N.J.

Good to see a champ return to the game

The headline on Joe Hirsch's Sept. 6 column, "A powerhouse back in action," was in reference to Mineshaft, but it also could have applied to Hirsch himself. By unquestionably one of the greatest turf writers in history, Hirsch's column was his first since before the Saratoga meet opened. I feel I speak for a great many racing aficionados when I say it's great to see Hirsch's prose again in Daily Racing Form.

Jon White
Monrovia, Calif.