11/07/2003 1:00AM

Letters to the Editor

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No ordinary Joe embraced as one for the ages

When I read Jay Hovdey's Nov. 2 column, "Hey, Joe - say it ain't so," about the impending retirement of Joe Hirsch, it sent me back in time.

I remember during the 1960's when my dad would get the Morning Telegraph. I always wanted to read the clear insights put forth by Joe Hirsch. Even though I wasn't more than 10, Hirsch's articles were a highlight for me.

Since then I have been following horse racing on a regular basis and always looked forward to reading Hirsch's work. Just the day before I read of his retiring, picked up the Form as usual on Friday for Saturday's card and was standing in line at a Togo's for lunch reading the paper, and Hirsch's "At The Post" column was, as always, the first thing I read.

I can't believe Joe Hirsch is retiring. Come on Joe, stay on for another 12 years, until I can retire and we can meet . . . at the post.

Mike Johnson
Santa Rosa, Calif.

Writings documented history in the making

I would like to take the opportunity to thank Joe Hirsch for the interesting light he has provided me to guide my path through the last 30 years of racing history. Change is about the only constant that parallels this history, and I want to thank Hirsch for having the open mind - along with the wit and humor - that it takes to navigate between the two.

I wish him only the best and congratulate him on being able to enlighten so many devoted fans in a way that may never be repeated, and certainly will never be forgotten.

Matt Talbert
Sacramento, Calif.

Lucky for a glimpse of artist as young man

I had the good fortune of working at Belmont Park in the 1950's, and I got to see Joe Hirsch get started.

I have, in all these years, continued reading the Morning Telegraph and Daily Racing Form and have enjoyed Joe Hirsch's columns throughout his career.

His insight into the everyday workings of horse racing has never failed to make for pleasurable reading. I wish him all the best of luck.

Joe Messina
Tulsa, Okla.

BC pick six winner shows stuff dreams are made of

It amazed me that some reader reaction published on the Racing Form about the lone winning Breeders' Cup pick six ticket was as counterproductive as the letter "Longest of longshots frustrates the hard-core" (Nov. 2).

Far from having "no clue about racing," as the letter would have it, Graham Stone, the winning South Dakotan, demonstrated the kind of savvy most of us only wish we could muster.

Certainly it is difficult to avoid becoming a skeptic after last year's Breeders' Cup pick six fiasco. And few would say it could never happen again as long as the computers involved are programmed and operated by human beings and creative criminal minds continue to "think outside the box."

Perhaps, though, we should suspend both suspicion and envy long enough to give an unlikely accomplishment the respect it deserves.

My own first reaction was to assume that the winning combination had to have been purchased by a syndicate or a "whale." But now that I know he possesses the post-takeout remains of my own partnered $16 wager, I have to give Stone credit for focusing on improving performers, not overlooking the legendary Andrew Beyer's selection of Cajun Beat, and trusting his instincts to make a last-minute switch to Turf co-winner High Chaparral. Stone may well become something of a folk hero to those who play horses with a limited bankroll.

Steve Abelove
Lawndale, Calif.

Even outsmarting yourself, always keep the faith

I must respond to a Nov. 2 letter, "Longest of longshots frustrates the hard-core," about the lone winning Breeders' Cup pick six.

The reason people like us who live this game 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year will never hit a $2.6 million score like that with an $8 ticket is that we know way too much for our own good. Between our own screw-ups, bad rides, DQ's, lost photos, and rough trips, this game is brutal.

But guess what? The next morning I jump out of bed waiting to get the next day's Racing Form, don't you? One of my favorite battle cries is from the late Jimmy Valvano: Don't give up. Don't ever give up.

Steve DeMichele
Utica, N.Y.

Racing universe doesn't halt on day when stars align

This is in response to a Nov. 2 letter to DRF, "No reason Cup should share day's spotlight," regarding racing by non-host tracks on Breeders' Cup Day.

For one, a one-day hiatus would be very difficult to coordinate, since there is no centralized administrative body that has such influence over every racetrack in North America.

Yes, it would be ludicrous for the NFL to hold another football game on Super Bowl Sunday. Every professional sports team's goal at the beginning of the season is to make the playoffs and, hopefully, the year-end championship. Does the trainer of a $16,000 claiming horse, however, have Breeders' Cup aspirations at the beginning of that horse's year?

There are countless horses, owners, jockeys, trainers, grooms, exercise riders, and stable hands who will never get a chance to participate in the Breeders' Cup. Forcing them to sit down while the rich get richer, so to speak, would be an insult. The non-participating horses don't shut down on Breeders' Cup Day. They still have to be fed, watered, groomed, and exercised. In that regard, it's just another day for those people who care for them.

Also, as for the comment that racetracks "continue running the same boring races that no one cares about," well, the racing industry does not start and stop with the Breeders' Cup. Where do the top racehorses come from? If we watched some of these "boring" races, we might have caught Cajun Beat breaking his maiden at Calder, Medaglia d'Oro placing at Turfway, or Bluesthestandard winning a $32,000 claiming event, and have been lucky enough to take note.

T.J. Grande
Oxnard, Calif.

Despite the Krone story, it's still a man's world

What a treat to read the Oct. 19 front-page article "Krone's fast track to success," and to see Julie Krone named "Person of the Week" by ABC's World News Tonight after her victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Krone's is a great story of a great horse lover and athlete being back on top. Julie Krone is surely one of our national sports treasures.

It makes me wonder why nothing much has ever happened with so many other women jockeys. When Julie was on top back in the 1980's and rode Colonial Affair to victory in the 1993 Belmont Stakes, I was ready to become a jockey. I thought Krone was the breakthrough woman jockey, and many more would follow in her lead.

But it seems that in a country where far more women love horses than men, the girls are held back from careers in horse racing - leaving them to be exercise riders for the Bob Bafferts and D. Wayne Lukases if they are cute, and the occasional trainer if they are well-connected. I think horse racing needs to go the way of Title IX. It's the only sport I can think of where women and girls are so unfairly treated.

Horses like women better than men - why doesn't horse racing?

Rita Ruud
Fargo, N.D.