11/14/2003 1:00AM

Letters to the Editor

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Shoemaker still has influence in this world

I would like the opportunity to publicly thank the Shoemaker Foundation for all the support it has given me. Words cannot begin to describe how thankful I am for having such a prestigious foundation help me out during my time of need.

Life is full of the unknown, and at any second a life can drastically change forever. In one small second this year, my life was changed forever. I went from a 23-year-old woman with a bright future to a woman stricken with paralysis from an automobile accident.

Adjusting to my new life was quite difficult both mentally and physically. But when I had reached the depths of despair, an angel came into my life. This wonderful person was Mr. Bill Shoemaker.

I am deeply touched that a man of his fame actually took time out of his day to call and cheer me up. As we chatted about our disabilities, I realized that I still had a bright and exciting future waiting for me. He shared with me all the amazing things that he could still do regardless of his severe paralysis.

Even with his passing, he is still in my heart. His foundation generously donated to me several types of equipment for which I am very grateful. The best gift of all, however, was not one of material form. It was something much better. Mr. Bill Shoemaker shared his words of wisdom and support with me, and for that I am truly thankful.

Sarah Anderson
Albany, Calif.

In jockey logo flap, too bad one suit doesn't fit all

I was not aware of the controversy regarding logos, fines, or lawsuits until reading the Nov. 9 article "Riders file suit over logos worn in Kentucky Derby."

What struck me most was that Jerry Bailey and Pat Day had not joined their fellow jockeys in this cause. For some reason, I was more surprised about Day than Bailey. It makes no sense, since I don't know either of them. I have always told myself that Bailey is a probably a perfectly nice guy - it's not his fault his horses go off at 3-5. Did I imagine Day was a "nicer" guy because sometimes I still need him in my exactas? And sometimes he came through? Whatever, that was disappointing news that he chose not to participate in the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, I was very pleased to see that all my favorite jockeys, who have made me way more money than Bailey or Day ever did, had worn the logos. Good for you Robby Albarado, Eibar Coa, Jose Santos, Kent Desormeaux et al. You have definitely got one fan rooting for you to win this one.

Susan Lord
Washington, D.C.

Funny Cide's campaign hardly road to ruin

What is Mike Watchmaker's obsession with Funny Cide and the possibility that the Breeders' Cup Classic might have "ruined" him? (Watchmaker Watch, Nov. 9). With this statement, he implies that Funny Cide was overmatched in the race and that this will somehow discourage him next year. In typical fashion, though, Watchmaker finds Ten Most Wanted's race in the Classic to be a total aberration worthy of blithe dismissal ("BC Classic was not a true measure of him"), though his performance was barely better than Funny Cide's.

Did Wally Dollase "ruin" Ten Most Wanted by asking him to run in the Breeders' Cup to cap off a hard 10-race campaign?

Did Bobby Frankel "ruin" Peace Rules after sending him out to a 15 1/2-length thrashing by vastly superior turf horses in the Mile?

Did Frankel "ruin" Midas Eyes by sending him out to stagger home dismally in the Sprint after a 140-day layoff?

Why are Funny Cide's connections (again) singled out for criticism? They weren't the only ones who had a horse perform poorly at Santa Anita.

Jim McCarthy
Hamden, Conn.

Cup day for feasting, not fasting

When I read the Nov. 2 letters to DRF, I could not have disagreed more with most of them. The most ridiculous suggestion was that that no tracks should run on Breeders' Cup Day except the Cup's host track. Why? My racing buddies and I appreciated having action between Cup races. So thank you, Philly Park, Laurel, Hawthorne, Bay Meadows, Freehold, and any other track that ran all afternoon.

Handicapping the Cup races was completed long before we got to the track Saturday. So what were we supposed to do? Sit on our hands for a half-hour or more between races? That kind of thinking helped make casinos extremely popular.

The other upsetting thread was the apparent resentment of a bettor who invested only $8 to hit the pick six. Who cares how much he bet or if he has paid some sort of dues? If that was a prerequisite for winning, then he should not have been allowed to buy a ticket in the first place.

One letter I agreed with totally was the one about the Rockingham mutuel clerk accused of betting after a race started. As stated, if there is one incident exposed there are probably many not exposed. I believe that the windows should close when the first horse enters the gate. Period. If some high rollers (with computer-generated edges, for crying out loud) don't like it, let them play at something else. I, for one, loved it when the windows were shut early at tracks last fall. It just felt honest and aboveboard, unlike today.

Gregg Gray
Willingboro, N.J.

Television pitches miss in both directions

I'm writing to voice my disappointment of the recent television ads on racing. The first time I viewed one, for Monmouth Park, which is my favorite track, I didn't understand the reggae connection. (Incidentally, I'm also a big reggae fan.) I thought matching a reggae theme with racing did not relate. It was almost as if racing were were embarrassed, for lack of a better word, to showcase the sport itself, by masking it with this nonsense. I know plenty of Jamaican friends at the track, so it's sort of preaching to the choir, anyway.

Amazingly, as I write this I just heard a commercial about Belmont mentioning Grade 1 races. So we go from one extreme to another. Reggae will not attract more fans, and any new potential fan has no idea what a Grade 1 race is. I don't know who is coming up with these ideas, but believe me, they are out of touch with this great game.

Michael Romagnola
North Arlington, N.J.

Premium on surface safety would reap benefits

Much is written and many fingers pointed in regard to who or what is to blame for racing injuries, but I have not read anything about the safety of the racing surfaces themselves.

Racing surfaces have to be looked at much more carefully than they have been. While money gets spent in various gimmicks and promotions, not enough is invested in trying to have the optimum racing surface. Isn't that rather backward thinking?

There are tracks that run year-round with full fields with lots of wagering interests, even though their standard cards are primarily $4,000-$8,000 claimers, many of them older horses. One would think that is where you would see a lot of breakdowns, but just the opposite is true. Mountaineer comes to mind. I know of horses who have been running there for years and, apparently, that track is very kind to them.

All tracks could be that way if management focused on bringing their surfaces up in quality and safety. Full fields and lots of betting interests will pay off as a result of this attention.

As racing tries to build its fan base and boost its reputation, wouldn't it be wise to put more emphasis on track safety, so horses can stay competitive much longer? It's a win-win situation - a well-spent investment that will be returned many times.

Sandy Elledge
Yakima, Wash.