01/11/2002 1:00AM

Letters to the Editor


Lacking proof, drug theory is only that

In a Jan. 6 letter to Daily Racing Form, a trainer stated that he can "name you many medications that can make a horse run out of his skin." This trainer alluded to his successful career in racing and to himself as a true "horseman and conditioner" who doesn't resort to the use of "18,000 drugs," which he suggests that those who are "just" trainers must rely upon to compete at his level of performance.

First, it's interesting to note that there are only about 4,000 prescription medications worldwide. Does this mean this trainer knows of 14,000 designer drugs? More importantly, if this is so, what is he doing training horses? Some newly developed drugs can command a billion-dollar market, so knowledge of these new drugs could make someone fabulously wealthy.

Second, how is it possible for a well-known, successful trainer such as Thomas Amoss to not know of any widespread drug use, by even those who are labeled "just" trainers? At the University of Arizona's Symposium on Racing, Amoss stated he wasn't aware of any trainers using these "high-test fuels."

Third, again if by chance this trainer actually does know what he's talking about, then he should immediately notify the state or commission veterinarians, the state racing commission itself, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's Drug Testing and Integrity in Racing Task Force, or at least the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association's Medication Committee with information on these drugs so that they can be identified and tests developed to deter the alleged use of these drugs in the future.

If this letter-writing trainer needs phone numbers for any of the above, I will be glad to supply them.Kent H. Stirling, Chairman,

Medication Committee, National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association

Racing has lost another of its greats

I have had the good fortune to work for two great racing secretaries, The first was Howard Battle, and the second was Jerry Botts.

Howard was hired in 1980 by Warner Jones, then chairman of Churchill Downs, to upgrade the track's racing program to top-quality meetings. Howard had two things to overcome: a small stable area of 1,400 stalls and extended summer race meets.

Howard made two great decisions after he accepted the job at Churchill. The first was to keep me employed (thanks to Mitch Shirota). The second, and most important, was to hire Jerry Botts as his assistant.

Howard and Jerry struggled through two long summer meets with short fields and a small horse population base because of competition from Arlington Park, Louisiana Downs, and Ellis Park. In 1985, Howard resigned as racing secretary but was insistent that Jerry Botts was the man to lead Churchill's racing department.

Under Jerry's direction, Churchill Downs rose to the top of the industry. We have seen the advent of a unified Triple Crown Productions, a record five Breeders' Cup events, and record numbers of grades stakes races.

Sadly, Jerry Botts died on New Year's Day.

When you hear the names of legends in racing, you hear those such as Ben Jones, Charlie Whittingham, Laz Barrera, Woody Stephens, D. Wayne Lukas, Pat Day, and Bill Shoemaker. The name Jerry Botts, while not as well known to the average racing fan, also belongs on the list of greats in Thoroughbred racing.

Jerry (nicknamed "Josie" years ago) will be missed by his family, his friends, fellow horsemen, and the many fans across the country of Churchill Downs racing. I worked with Jerry for 28 years, and for him for 16 of those. He was my co-worker and my boss, but most of all he was my friend.

Here's to you, Josie. Thanks for sharing your life with all of us.

Mike Hargrave - Director of Stalls Churchill Downs

Magna's head needs turning around

This letter is directed toward racing's newest hypocrite, Mr. Frank Stronach and his Magna Entertainment Corporation. When Stronach first started buying racetracks, I would always take the position among my comrades that he would be great for racing. Today I find myself re-thinking that position.

Stronach preaches that racing needs to be deregulated and become an open market for all. He won't make a deal with Television Games Network because of their demands of exclusivity, then what does Magna do? Pulls its signals from Brisnet and other wagering sites. Where is the open market with this type of action? He has two of the prime winter racing signals and no home access for the public.

I am sorry, for the game of racing, that I was so wrong about this guy Stronach. From my residence I used to play Woodbine via simulcast and felt he would be a shining light for racing, but all he has shown us is that he is all smoke and mirrors. Please, Mr. Stronach, stop blowing smoke and start putting your money where your mouth is!

Stu Levine - Birmingham, Mich.

Extra bet offers extra opportunities

The logic of the Jan. 6 letter "Superfluous wager profits track, not bettors," regarding quinellas, defies the basic logic of mathematics, economics, racetrack management, and exotics wagering. (Heck, maybe even astronomy, religion, and woodcrafting, too!)

To quote: "Having two pools enables the track to take their cut twice. In addition, there are twice the number of opportunities for the track to keep the breakage." The track is not keeping double the money! The money of an eliminated pool would most likely be diverted into other pools. This is criticism for the sake of criticism - without valid reason - which contributes to deaf ears being turned toward our legitimate gripes. In this case, the track is doing the right thing by giving as wide an array of choices as possible. We need to invent more bets, in fact, not only for the serious horseplayer, but to attract some of the slot- and card-player money.

If you don't like one of those two bets, bet the one you like and leave the other to those of us who enjoy it. Do not try to impose your will on others.

"In most situations, a $1 exacta payoff is comparable with a $2 quinella . . . so why continue to offer both of the wagers?" Because of natural inequalities in the pools, comparable does not mean exactly equal. Often I use both bets in the same race, depending on payoffs, thereby squeezing even more profits out.

I happen to enjoy both bets, but there are also times when one bet is better than the other. For one, the quinella is a great replacement for a place bet, and it makes a good hedge and middle for a win bet.

Charles Langer - New York City

Price-wise bettors study quinella variant

I totally disagree with the Jan. 6 letter-writer's thinking that $1 exacta boxes pay comparably with a $2 quinella. For example, a $50 exacta with even odds very often results in a quinella paying $22 or perhaps $28. This three-dollar fluctuation may seem insignificant, but it is still a 12 percent price fluctuation, and to big bettors this is very significant.

The real price variation surfaces when there are huge exacta and quinella payoffs, with $20 to $30 variations on a single $2 wager. In order to be successful in an environment that takes approximately 20 percent of each wager, betting patrons can simply not afford to make any mistakes, especially when it comes to their payoffs.

Rick Higgins - Columbus, Ohio