05/13/2004 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


Career paths of some horses give one pause

I applaud Mike Watchmaker's May 12 column, "Mishandled Toccet finally gets a break." It is really sad to see the way some horses are handled, and Toccet is a perfect example. Let's hope that fine horse has something left and trainer Bobby Frankel can bring it out while owner Daniel Borislow stays on the sidelines.

I would also like to comment on the handling of Azeri. Now, I admit that maybe her former trainer, Laura de Seroux, was too easy on her and that she could have won more important races than she did, but it is hard to argue with two campaigns that resulted in three Eclipse Awards, one being Horse of the Year. What exactly is D. Wayne Lukas doing with Azeri? Her race in the Apple Blossom was just awesome, but then we saw her four weeks later, in a sprint no less, and, as Watchmaker noted in his May 5 column, "Slop or no slop, Smarty Jones was best horse," beaten 22 times with the whip. What was that about?

Now Azeri is being pointed to the Met Mile against males at the end of the month. I fear that the mare will be run into the ground. It's a real shame.

Brett M. Drabik

Racing's voice not talking to his generation

I'm a 21-year-old racing fan who grew up in Chicago. I was lucky enough to have a mother enthused enough about horse racing to take me to Arlington Park a few times each summer before I had even turned 10. By 15, there I was reading past performances and suggesting wagers to my mother that more often than not turned out better than hers.

This sport had me hooked before I hit sixth grade, and it will continue to draw my attention for a good, long time. I realize, however, that most kids will never have the chance to be exposed to this sport, and in their teen years will form other interests that will last their entire lifetimes.

There is a very simple reason why: The sport is designed to cater essentially only to those in generations older than my own. Unless youngsters have a strong interest in horses as animals, they would never watch a horse racing telecast on their television. Turning on a program at age 15 and finding an entire crew of commentators older than your father is no reason to stay and listen. I watch ESPN and NBC telecasts and wonder why they haven't picked up a younger commentator. The sport needs to get the next generation of fans to tune in and then head to the track.

Racing needs to show youth involved at the level that teenagers sitting at home can understand: handicapping and playing the horses because it's fun, exciting, and, more than anything, beautiful.

Brian W. Spencer
Portland, Ore.

Woodbine comment no pool of wisdom

I found particularly amusing a remark made in "Expectations high for new online wagering" (April 17) by Steve Mitchell, Woodbine's vice-president of ontrack wagering. "So despite our higher takeouts, Canadians are actually better off playing their own pools," said Mitchell. (There are separate pools in Canada for wagers on U.S. tracks.)

I would suggest that this is an illogical and dishonest statement by Mr. Mitchell. Regular bettors in Canada know that New York tracks, for example, give much more generous payoffs on their races than Canadians receive by betting into the much smaller Canadian pools on the same New York races.

Ian Veitch