01/02/2004 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor

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Gill deserving of Eclipse, not Beyer's knocks

A response to Mr. Andrew Beyer on his article "Tempted to vote for Gill? Just say no" (Dec. 26).

Michael Gill should be receiving a standing ovation from the racing industry for leading the country in money and races won. That is not happening, and why? Because most of the popular racing publications use writers who are degenerate gamblers who don't know how to do anything else but knock people who don't fit into their gambling equations or are inconsistent with their "numbers." The Mike Gill operation obviously doesn't fit yours, Mr Beyer. Let me try and help you understand your personal anger and help explain to others why you are so sour on the Gill operation.

You always seem to mention Mr. Gill's money. There's obviously some jealousy there - get over it. I see you having a problem with Mr. Gill's operation because of failed attempts to cash a bet. I would guess that you along with other gamblers are frustrated with what you perceive to be our inconsistency. We try to place our horses in the best possible race. That doesn't always work out the right way and the horses get beat, but we always try to have them in a spot where they at least look good on paper. You might pass on a horse because he doesn't have a big enough "number" to compete on paper, but races are not run on paper. They are run by living animals, who feel pain or might have a bad day. It is not just drugs like you always assume. As for drug violations, why don't we print a list of every person in the industry and their positives? Mr. Gill's was almost 10 years ago and would be near the bottom in terms of severity.

You personally interviewed Mr. Gill last year at Gulfstream. Mr. Gill was very happy because he thought you finally understood what he was doing. He went into detail about some trade secrets to our operation just to give you the truth. You wrote your article and made fun of what Mr. Gill said. You implied that we were hopping our horses. You specifically mentioned three claimed horses (Cahill Kid, Denimsanddiamonds, and Tasty Caberneigh) that we improved. Mr. Gill gave you the information on why each horse improved. I hope that you followed those three horses after your article. All three improved in our operation and continue to run well today.

You mention a jockey and how he deserves the Eclipse. Are you being a hypocrite? What about his multiple drug violations. If I had to guess, Mr. Beyer must have cashed a bet on that jockey, therefore making him a hero.

The one Eclipse category that should be a landslide lock is that of the owner. How can you recommend giving it to owners who got lucky with one good horse? They don't come close to Mr. Gill's contribution to the sport. Yes he has a lot of claiming horses and they fit well into American racing, which runs 70 percent claiming races. He also led the country in stakes wins. Not to mention he was the leading buyer of 2-year-olds for 2003. He "eclipsed" all other owners this year and deserves the Eclipse award. Horse racing could use a few more Michael Gills and few less gambling writers to keep it going.

Mark Shuman, trainer for Michael Gill
Elkton, Md.

Beyer's reasoning a double standard

While I have always had the utmost respect for Andrew Beyer as a handicapper, I question his reasoning for one of his Eclipse Award votes.

It is Beyer's contention that Michael Gill should be excluded from consideration for one violation attributed to him for a bronchial dilator, for which many have been found guilty over the years. On the other hand, he would cast his vote for Patrick Valenenzuela, who over the years has been one of the most prolific substance violators in the history of horse racing.

Now, I think Valenzuela is one the most talented and God-gifted riders I have ever seen (and I have seen them all going back to Eddie Arcaro), and I also think it is great that Valenzuela seems to have straightened out his act. But to use Beyer's logic? I think not.

Joseph Giambra
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Saratoga seat policy ill-conceived

Eliot Spitzer where are you? NYRA has not learned its lesson and they are at it again, but this time they are using a legal maneuver to scam the public. Aside from increasing the cost of the reserved seats at Saratoga, which is not a big issue, they are requiring all seat holders to pre-pay the daily admissions. For most it would be $5 for 36 days, or $180 for the season.

NYRA is well aware that each seat holder cannot attend every day for various reasons. I attend the meet about 21 days, and I usually purchase four seats for the 36-day season. This means NYRA will now skim $300 from me ($5 for four seats for 15 days) for days that I cannot attend.

In addition, many seat holders are NYRA One account members. They deposit cash up front with NYRA, which allows them to bet off their account either by phone or through the SAM machines at the track. As a reward for using a NYRA One account and maintaining a minimum balance, NYRA gives each account holder free admission to their tracks, including Saratoga.

What this means is that seat holders who have NYRA One accounts will be paying admissions that were free and earned by using the NYRA One account.

My prediction is that NYRA will see a decrease in NYRA One account holders for Saratoga as well as a decrease in handle.

Sam Perrotto
Rensselaer, N.Y.

Here's an idea: Reduce the takeout

There is an old saying that the truth sometimes hurts. To that I might add, especially to those who are in contempt of it. In that spirit, I would like to follow up on the insightful points made by both a Dec. 21 letter to the Racing Form, "Raising the takeout: Just say no," and Steven Crist's "Bettors face legal mugging" column of Sept. 21. Both made excellent points on how the racing hierarchy is trying to dump their business expenses on the already severely burdened players who fuel the handle.

A week after Crist's column, several California horsemen replied on the letters page, blasting Crist's assessment that the bettors should not be held responsible for the business expenses of owners. Based on how hard and loud they squealed, the issue must have hit a raw nerve. Their reasoning was, what's the big deal, were only talking about one-half of a percentage point. I have news for them - tell that to a bookie or someone who pushes $200,000 through the exacta windows and is skillful enough to get it all back only to find out that the horseman want an additional $1,000 beyond the present $40,000 his play generated making him a loser.

I'm tired of hearing that California has some of the lowest takeout rates in the country. To begin with, even racing's best rates are astronomically high compared with other forms of gambling, such as house poker, blackjack, dice, and pro football. It is almost like your banker telling you he can cut you a loan on your new car at only 30 percent, reminding you that your local loan shark would charge you at least 40 percent.

Would it not make better business sense to quit trying to break the backs of current players? Decrease the take dramatically rather than increase it. With offshore betting and Internet wagering, the current handle could triple or more with new investors and the ability to churn more with the current ones. With one-half of the current takeout or less, a snowball effect could start rolling that would actually increase the revenue. In the end, the game would have unlimited growth and everybody would be happy to place their bets without feeling like a pigeon.

Bill Jamison
Greensburg, Pa.