04/15/2004 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


Pimlico heritage goes beyond just racing

I'm responding to the April 14 column by Andrew Beyer, "Magna must play its trump card."

Beyer wrote that, in response to the Maryland Legislature's rejection of slot machines, Magna Entertainment Corp. should close one of the Maryland tracks it owns, Pimlico, and move the Preakness Stakes elsewhere.

How dare Beyer suggest such a fate.

I am a Magna shareholder today because Magna owns Pimlico. I have somewhat of a history here, though, so my thoughts are colored by that bias. Many decades ago, my late father used to sneak into Pimlico as a child. It became his source of entertainment and respite from the hard life of a Maryland dairy farm family in the 1920's and 1930's.

A few years later, as a young man, my father wagered on Pimlico races and honed his betting skills at that track. He loved Pimlico until the day he died, as the fond memories were as alive in him as ever.

Now, decades later, Pimlico is stuck in the middle of urban Baltimore looking very much unlike the track to which my father fled for a few hours of "mental hygiene" away from farm life.

The tradition of Pimlico and the Preakness (I was born on Preakness weekend) is entrenched in Maryland. While not a resident of the state, I watch closely as Magna wends its way through the powers that be in Maryland. My shares of stock in the company (mostly inherited after my father's death) will vote to keep Pimlico in Maryland.

Visiting the track today (with a shareholder pass), I enjoy walking in my father's footsteps. Pimlico is simply a family tradition for me, and if Magna makes the ill-fated decision (it has made a few weird maneuvers this year) to take the Preakness out of Maryland, my shares will go south for me, as I will not stay on the Magna bandwagon. I'll visit my father's grave and converse with his headstone, then explain why "our" shares of Magna have become useless to us.

Please, no one should encourage a move by Magna out of Maryland. Traditions in our country, as well as our national identity, are fast-fading from our landscape, and I would hate to see another victim fall prey.

Elaine Puricelli
Richmond, Va.

Projected slots bonanza is really fool's gold

Andrew Beyer failed to confront reality (a dangerous position for a stats man) in his recent column exhorting Magna Entertainment Corp. to shut down one of its racetracks in Maryland and move the Preakness to one of its other tracks, now that the state government has voted against slot machines at the state's racetracks.

Slot machines are not the answer to horse racing's problems, as has been evidenced in Ontario, to name but one jurisdiction that has embraced the insidious gains produced off the backs of the obsessive-compulsive disordered. The notion that slot machines will restore Maryland racing to its former glory is quite absurd.

Indeed, in no location where slot machines have been brought in to augment diminishing track revenue has management done anything to use its ill-gotten affluence to improve the presentation of the core product - horse racing - for fans. And, the fact is, the sport is now even less popular and poorly promoted than it was before the arrival of slots.

So politicians are quite right in their assessment that enough is enough, and that funding health care, roads, and education are far more important than supporting losing concerns that merely line the pockets of a select few owners and breeders.

The glory days of horse racing are long gone. Any notion to the contrary is just allowing one's heart to overrule one's head.

Michael Powell

'Maryland, My Maryland' now seems a swan song

Andrew Beyer was right on the money. Closing Pimlico and moving the Preakness is the only thing Frank Stronach, owner of Magna Entertainment Corp., can do, because he is big business and the game of racing is big business.

It's obvious that the speaker of the Maryland House, Michael Busch, was right when he said that, when it comes to the horse racing business in the state of Maryland, with the exception of those involved in the business, "the number of people who care is next to none."

It's too late now to revive the sport, and this anticipated move by Magna Entertainment will be the last nail in the Maryland racing coffin.

John McGarry
Elkton, Md.

More than sheer speed in Derby contender's blood

I would like to express my disagreement with comments in the Racing Form about the "speed-leaning pedigree" of a Kentucky Derby hopeful, Pollard's Vision, that he is allegedly outrunning ("Pollard's Vision scores in Illinois," April 7).

It amazes me when sophisticated experts make analysis of pedigree influences when they have looked at only half of a horse's genealogy. Yes, Pollard's Vision, recent winner of the Illinois Derby, is by Carson City, a brilliant stallion known for siring progeny best suited to distances anywhere from five furlongs to a mile.

When it comes to the pedigree of Pollard's Vision, however, it is a clear misstatement that this is a colt who must outrun a sprinter's pedigree if he is to be blanketed with roses the first Saturday this May. Pollard's Vision's female family is overflowing with graded-stakes-caliber runners and producers, the majority of them classic distance influences.

To begin, his first three broodmare sires are Dixieland Band, Pleasant Colony, and Nijinsky, all of whom contribute tremendous stamina influences to any bloodline.

His second dam, Hometown Queen, finished second in the Kentucky Oaks at 1 1/8 miles. His third dam is also the dam of Viviana, who is best known as the dam of Grade 1 stakes winners Sightseek and Tate's Creek. And his fourth dam is champion filly Chris Evert, who captured the New York filly Triple Crown and won a match race by more than 50 lengths.

Using the ever-controversial theory of Dosage, Pollard's Vision (when you combine both his sire and dam sides equally) carries a Dosage index of 2.33, almost ideally suited to any race contested at the classic distances.

While I'm not certain if Pollard's Vision is talented enough to be draped in a blanket of roses on Kentucky Derby Day, I can express with certainty that if he isn't, it will not be because he is a son of Carson City. The genetic contributions of his female family more than make up for those speed influences in their own right.

Billy Teinowitz

Trainers' words not always to the wise

An April 4 letter, "Uninformed bettors get short end of stick," complained about the failure of trainer Mike Puhich to inform the public that That's an Outrage was a "little bit short" going into the Lane's End Stakes, where he ran fourth, spoiling the day for those who bet him.

On checking said trainer's stats - after last weekend he was 1 for 34 at Santa Anita and 2 for 37 for the year - no wonder he was "pumped" that his horse ran fourth in a Grade 2 stakes.

How many times have we heard trainers, so confident of winning, end up with their feet in their mouths? I have also witnessed trainers being truly surprised by a horse's winning when they really thought it had no chance because of being "a little short" or outclassed.

My advice: Stop complaining, do your own handicapping, and don't listen to trainers (or owners). They have tunnel vision when it comes to their horses.

Mustafa Hammami