08/09/2001 11:00PM

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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Power struggle over New York a losing battle

I eagerly await horse racing's latest version of the World Wrestling Federation: Magna Entertainment versus the New York Racing Association in an all-out cage match going at it tooth and nail over New York City Off-Track Betting.

New York's OTB customers have ringside seats to witness Barry Schwartz of NYRA warming up in his Calvin Kleins while Magna's Frank Stronach bench-presses a huge war chest over his head. In the middle of the long battle, I'm not going to bat a eye when Tom Meeker, acting like Hulk Hogan with a metal chair, comes out of the audience and nails them both, claiming victory for the Churchill Downs Simulcast Network. Yes, it's going to be a match for the ages with many casualties in the end - mostly bettors.

P.J. Orlando

Tucson, Ariz.

Racing Network's demise hurts serious bettors

With The Racing Network now out of business (Aug. 1) the real horse racing fan has been let down again. Not only was TRN a product that the everyday handicapper needed, wanted, and enjoyed, customers who paid an annual fee in full have been given no answers as to why this decision was made or how the customers get a refund for services they will never get.

I do not know if Frank Stronach and his buddies at Greenwood Racing are fully responsible for this awful decision, to shut down a service that was much better than anything currently in operation, but I do not think they are good for the game of racing. I shudder to think what might happen if a Magna-Greenwood partnership gains control of New York City Off-Track Betting.

The demise of TRN is just another example of the hard-core racing fan getting burned again. Racing must stop worrying about catering to new racing fans who will never become full-time handicappers, no matter how many free concerts, clowns, 50-cent hot dogs, and $1 beers you throw at them. There are too many other "instant gratification" options available to them, and they will never appreciate the sport of horse racing as the challenge it is.

Can someone in racing's upper echelon realize that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush and take better care of the hard-core, lifelong fans that already exist.

Joseph Dante DeRogatis

Whitehouse Station, N.J.

Turnstile-churning is silly promotion

The inflated attendance numbers reached a new high (or new low) this past Sunday because of giveaways at Saratoga and Monmouth Park.

The Saratoga crowd was hugely inflated while the Monmouth crowd probably was mildly inflated. I was at Monmouth, and while it was crowded, the announced attendance seemed a little high based on my previous Haskell trips.

Why can't the tracks stop the charade and allow fans to purchase as many trinkets as they want as they count as one person when they enter the track?

David M. Fischer

New York City