12/19/2003 1:00AM

Letters to the Editor

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Jockeys the real risk-takers in this sport

This is a letter regarding Julie Krone, David Neusch, Ryan Fogelsonger, and every jockey who has been thrown from a horse.

On Friday, Dec. 12, those three jockeys were thrown from their mounts at Hollywood Park, with Krone and Fogelsonger more seriously injured than Nuesch.

As a horseplayer, I got the feeling that any emotional or personal feelings bettors experienced when watching these three jockeys get thrown were directed toward the players' bankrolls. I myself said things at the time that, after reviewing my behavior at the end of the day, were disgusting, and the comments I heard from others while sitting in a race book echoed my sentiments. I didn't hear one comment showing concern for the jockeys' health.

All too often, we as horseplayers look upon the jockey from the persepective of our money. We applaud ourselves for great handicapping when our jockey comes in, but curse and blame them when we don't get the result we wanted. We don't concern ourselves with the daily danger that jockeys face.

Our inability or refusal to remember that jockeys have families and friends cheapens our respect for a game and an industry that has given us all a lot of joy and good times over the years. I can't even imagine the scene of a columnist from this publication watching his wife tumbling down the backstretch at Hollywood Park and then laying motionless, while he listens to comments concerning her ability to stay on a horse or how much money a bettor lost.

Let's remember that we as horseplayers just walk up to our betting windows, or pluck away at a keyboard, or dial a phone. The ones that ride have their lives on the line, not our money. They are the ones who hit the ground at 35-plus miles per hour, not us.

Rob Madison
Henderson, NV

Raising takeout: Just say no

In response to the letter from Hollywood Park president Rick Baedeker, "Tracks working on some relief for California," in the Dec. 14 Daily Racing Form, please note how track management tries to solve all their problems by continually stiff-arming bettors. Sorry Mr. Baedeker, but your takeout increase will come back to haunt you. The infamous 1945 takeout increase in New York, nicknamed the "O'Dwyer bite," was the single biggest tragedy in New York racing history. Handle dropped nearly 33 percent over the next four years, attendance dropped sharply, and horse racing lost its legitimacy statewide. A game that could be beaten was reduced to a sucker's game.

It's about time that handicappers unite. It's time to play hardball with track management. We ought not apologize for wanting a civilized takeout rate! We ought not apologize for wanting to make an honest living from betting the races!

In closing, I would like to offer NYRA management my support for the job they have done since Barry Schwartz took over. I would also implore them to not make the wrong decision in June. Mr. Schwartz, say no to reversing the takeout reductions when they expire in June.

Douglas Salvatore
Erie, Pa.