02/27/2004 1:00AM

Letters to the Editor


A neighbor sees nothing amiss on the farm

I am writing in regard to the article on Marylou Whitney and her mare Dear Birdie, "A broodmare helps rebuild an empire" (Feb. 15).

I know from personal observation that no one works any harder or takes any better care of horses than Jean Cravens of Trackview Farm, and as for the "mom-and-pop" operations Whitney mentioned, they are the backbone of this industry. They are the caregivers working 24/7 for 365 days a year, because that is the life they have chosen.

I have lived on Bryan Station Road, across from where Trackview sits, for most of my 65 years, and I have yet to see "a little dirt farm" boarding horses. How much classier it would have been simply to state "we purchased the mare privately" and let it go at that.

Nancy M. Mitchell, Clarkland Farm
Lexington, Ky.

Vet pays tribute to exceptional operation

With the huge achievements of the Marylou Whitney Stables these past months, articles have cropped up in many horse publications that, while fascinating and sometimes heartwarming, do not represent the truth in an attempt to make more sensational a story that is actually quite ordinary in its beginning.

The broodmare Dear Birdie was purchased privately from a small farm called Trackview Farm less than a mile from the Whitney home on Bryan Station Pike. The mare was in excellent condition, as are all of the horses under the care of Jean Cravens, who has run a hands-on boarding operation at the same location for over 15 years. Her clients have been with her for years and realize and appreciate the personalized attention that they and their horses receive. Respected by all who know and work with her for her total dedication to her equine charges, she has paid her dues in long hours and lost sleep. You will not find a more conscientious, hardworking horseperson than this woman who has devoted her entire adult life to the industry she loves. Her common sense and good judgment in any horse decision make working with her as a veterinarian an easy task.

Those who have written articles describing a broodmare in poor condition who had to be nursed back to health once she was rescued from this "dirt farm" should have checked their facts first. This particular farm has bred, raised, and sold an enviable percentage of winners and stakes winners.

The rewards are few and far between for the many small horse operations that make up the backbone of the Thoroughbred industry. Don't make the job any more difficult.

Linda A. Robbins, D.V.M.
Paris, Ky.

Slighted caretaker is part of industry's essence

Wa'sup with Marylou Whitney?

My "mom and pop" farm is three miles from the C.V. Whitney Estate on Bryan Station Road. Trackview Farm, and Jean Cravens, are just one mile closer to Lexington. Within three miles in any direction from this area are Payson Stud, Gainesway, Normandy, Walmac, and many other well-known and lesser-known farms. The "dirt" that we all have in common is magnificent.

The dirt supports the grasses and nourishes our horses with minerals and nutrients that you cannot get anywhere else in the world. Many champions - past, present, and future - represent the value of our rich dirt. Man o' War and War Admiral are included, plus many, many others.

"Mom and pop" caretakers are the dedicated, hands-on 24/7 individuals who continue to give thankless years of service to this industry. Many of the large farms are supported by "mom and pop" individuals who are behind the big gates and well-maintained fence lines. They are the dedicated employees who provide the necessary attention to the care of the most important asset of this industry, the horses.

The Racing Form should have ignored any statement that shed questionable light on any business or individual. The least DRF could have done was checked those statements for accuracy. Perhaps the Paul Harvey approach would make interesting reading somewhere down the line, so that we may have "the rest of the story."

My sympathies to Jean Cravens, but perhaps the saying that "even bad publicity is good" will prevail. I am personally calling her to see if she has some room to foal my mares.

Steve Kintz, Bronze Bell Farm
Lexington, Ky.

Editor's note: The "dirt farm" reference in a quote attributed to Marylou Whitney did not appear in Daily Racing Form's Feb. 15 article "A broodmare helps rebuild an empire." The quote was published by other news organizations last spring after Bird Town won the Kentucky Oaks.

New star has appearedin Ema Bovary

With the sport's top runners quickly whisked away to the breeding shed, major equine stars are becoming fewer and further between. Combine that trend with the fact that there is a huge emphasis on breeding 2-year-olds with speed, and we will probably never see another star like Seabiscuit, Cougar II, or Affirmed. These three intact horses were fan favorites who made more starts in one year than some of our modern-day stakes horses make in their careers.

The sport's next star might just be a 5-year-old mare who was imported from Chile by her Washington-based connections. She started her career in North America in northern California, and is just now getting the attention of the racing media. That mare, Ema Bovary, trounced the field in the Las Flores Handicap at Santa Anita.

Although Ema Bovary entered the race on a seven-race winning streak, Buffythecenterfold, "the class of the field," was sent off as the 6-5 favorite. Those who backed Ema Bovary were rewarded with a $4.80 payout, although she won like a 1-5 shot.

In her eight straight victories in the United States, Ema Bovary has defeated Lacie Girl (northern California's top female sprinter at the time), dominated in two races at Emerald Downs, rallied along a dead rail to win a stakes quality allowance race at Hollywood Park, and won two straight stakes at Santa Anita. She has looked more and more impressive with every start.

Ema Bovary may not become the South American version of Ta Wee, but I am confident that she will be able to make a significant impact on the sprint division in 2004.

Jon Forbes Jr.
Sunnyvale, Calif.

Talent made mockery of regional bias

It is about time Ema Bovary gets some respect.

In advance of the Las Flores, the front page of Daily Racing Form out West screamed, "Not a favorable spot for Ema Bovary." The article went on to say that Buffythecenterfold was too classy for Ema Bovary and that Ema Bovary's lack of class and style of running would prove her shortcoming.

So, now can we give Ema Bovary some respect? Everyone who tried to beat her in the Las Flores was served a wake-up call as to her brilliance.

The automatic assumption about northern California horses going down to Southern California has always been that they are outclassed. Well, Ema Bovary has now won three times in Southern California. It is she who is outclassing them. Her Las Flores was a romp, and it is my hope that she will now get a chance to go onto the national scale and show the whole United States what a brilliant filly she is.

After all that was said about her before, it took just over 1:08 for Ema Bovary to finally get respect.

Steve Martinelli
South San Francisco, Calif.