10/31/2003 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor


No reason Cup should share day's spotlight

So, another Breeders' Cup is in the record books. The racing industry ought to erect a statue of John Gaines, the man who came up with the idea. Progressive thinkers like Gaines are the notable exception in the game of horse racing. The industry, as a whole, is run by people who make Moe, Larry, and Curly look efficient.

How else could anyone possibly explain the depths of cluelessness that take place each year on Breeders' Cup Day?

The Breeders' Cup is the crowning of champions and the culmination of the racing year: the best racehorses from around the world competing in eight championship races, with $14 million in purses at stake.

Sounds like a perfect day now, doesn't it? Only it's not enough action to satisfy racing's greedy hierarchy - the gang who couldn't shoot straight. They found a way to bollix it up.

Instead of decreeing an annual one-day hiatus that would permit the Breeders' Cup to be a stand-alone event, racetracks all across America continue running the same boring races that no one cares about, even as the Breeders' Cup is being contested.

Imagine the Super Bowl taking place while other football games were being played on the same day. Same for the World Series, the NBA finals, or Stanley Cup finals. The purpose is to get rid of the riffraff and have the public focus upon the championship event. That is obviously lost on the powers that be in the Thoroughbred industry.

More goofy decisions will likely continue being made, until the Thoroughbred racing industry, which has already hit a giant iceberg, stops merely rearranging the deck furniture.

Ross Stevens
Medford, N.J.

Unlikely winners come from all formulas

This letter is prompted by the Oct. 30 article, "Pick six winner faces skeptics." I think it's great that the small-time player won a big one.

My wife and I live in Austin, Texas, and get out to Manor Downs as often as monetarily possible. I want to share the true story of a similar score - albeit a much smaller one than that of South Dakotan Graham Stone's in the Breeders' Cup - that a friend of mine had that Saturday.

In the Filly and Mare Turf, my friend decided, after much pondering, that it was a much too difficult race to pick the trifecta without putting in a couple of hundred dollars to get it. So he decided that he would play an "all-Irish trifecta" consisting of the three Irish-bred horses in the race. He went to the window and placed his $6 bet, bought our table a round of drinks, and sat down. As you know, they went one-two-three and returned a $1 trifecta worth $1,589.50. Needless to say, we were all ecstatic (this came after the initial "you've got to be kidding me" response) that he'd won.

This is a true story, no kidding. Our buddy just happened to be lucky that day. He had also hit a couple of the previous exactas and was already up a little bit of money.

Just wanted to share another story to show that pure old good luck is alive and well.

Blake A. Masters
Austin, Texas

Longest of longshots frustrates the hard-core

I must voice my opinion on this wonder guy from South Dakota. The issue that bothers me is not that he won - bless him - it's his explaining how and why he picked the horses.

I hit a pick six once with a $16 investment, but it paid only $5,700, not $2.6 million - and to hear this guy split the cost!

How is it that these people who have no clue about racing hit these monster payouts? A Breeders' Cup official was quoted as calling this "a really good story . . . . I think it's great." I beg to differ. I study day-in and day-out, from trip notes to trainer tricks to you name it. A pick six is very hard unless you pack it with money, and then someone who will probably never put in eight to 10 hours a day of work on notes, replays, and the heartache of this game hits big using four singles, two horses, and two horses.

How do you think the rest of the people - who play this sport with the love that only a real fan could experience - feel?

Leigh Carracino
New York City

Cup should add incentives to ensure top-flight turnout

The Breeders' Cup is supposed to be the highlight of the year. So how can it let top horses - such as Eurosilver, Birdstone, et al. - escape? The two juvenile races are the most interesting because they pay off the best and showcase next year's stars. How can Breeders' Cup Ltd. let anyone pass? It should offer a Juvenile-Kentucky Derby bonus - an added $2 million to a colt or filly who pulls off that double or a Juvenile Fillies-Kentucky Oaks double.

To let the connections of the best 2-year-olds opt out and basically put a couple of graded winners against horses eligible for lower allowance races, and even a maiden, is ridiculous.

Let Breeders' Cup Ltd. put bonuses in place to get the best in the sport running for the most money. Oaklawn has a new bonus in place for next year, and you can be sure the Rebel will have the best 3-year-olds in the country headed there. Although few may stay for the Arkansas Derby, the track will have achieved its goal: the best showing up and money coming in.

In another area, the Distaff needs to be run at 1 1/4 miles to eliminate sprinters from ruining the race. And the fact that a lot of American horses can't get 1 1/4 miles will interest Europeans to enter their horses.

Also, the Cup is in desperate need of a five- or six-furlong race on grass, as well as a mile on dirt. By mixing it up, the Cup will make the day more truly competitive and interesting.

Lastly, all other tracks should refrain from running during the Breeders' Cup card, both out of respect and to thank the best of the best for making every track's pockets that much fuller.

Marc Parness
Virginia Beach, Va.

Rockingham incident shakes up longtime fan

So, much the same thing as happened in last year's Breeders' Cup pick six scandal has happened again. A mutuel clerk at Rockingham Park is supposed to have past-posted a race at Belmont Park ("Accused teller no longer employed," Oct. 31).

If one clerk has past-posted the system, are there 99 more who did but kept their mouths shut? And whose system is at the center of this? Scientific Games Racing, the former Autotote, which was supposed to clear up such problems.

I have been playing horses since 1948, and it is a great sport, but these days you can call me disgruntled, disgusted, and disappointed.

Donald Gillen
West Hempstead, N.Y.

Give Miller her due as a Breeder's Cup winner

I would like to point out an inaccuracy in the Oct. 27 article "Outside post no problem for Halfbridled," on the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. It stated that Julie Krone was the first female jockey to win a Breeders' Cup race.

Blythe Miller won the Breeders' Cup Steeplechase with Lonesome Glory at Belmont in 1993, as well as in 2000 at Far Hills on All Gong. Although the Steeplechase is not held on Breeders' Cup Day, it is a race under Breeders' Cup endorsement. Krone is only the first woman to ride a Breeders' Cup winner on the flat.

Paul-John Ramos
Yonkers, N.Y.