07/22/2004 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


Another owner joins the cry over sale ethics

Thoroughbred owners, both current and prospective, should be applauding the recent efforts of Satish Sanan as he calls attention to the issue of ethics (or lack thereof) in the Thoroughbred sales industry. Owners need to be assured about the physical soundness of the horses they may be purchasing. Moreover, they need to be confident that the process of acquiring a Thoroughbred racing prospect is devoid of price-fixing, back-room payments, and outright larceny.

The ramifications of uncovering the truth about the sales industry will undoubtedly be a painful process. For this reason, we, the owners, cannot allow the industry to investigate, police, or purify itself. We need to call for an independent investigation and accounting of the activities. The Thoroughbred industry has a long track record of protecting its own little fiefdom. Issues of corruption and ethics have often been dealt with in questionable fashion.

While the sales industry and racing management might be considered two unique venues by some, there is no denying the two are intimately woven into the greater fabric of the Thoroughbred industry.

Sanan has called on various industry participants to join him in his quest to clean up the industry. His passion is compelling, but he is missing the mark on the most critical part of the equation. Some of the individuals he is calling on to support this initiative may be responsible for the corruption in the first place. The same agents, trainers, consignors, and pinhookers who are party to the millions overpaid for bloodstock are now being called upon to raise awareness. If ever there was a situation of asking the fox to enter the henhouse, this is it.

Most of the individuals who ply their trade in the horse business are honest and upstanding. They say it only takes a few rotten apples. For those of us who traffic in the sales community, there is no denying the rotten apples. You know who you are, we know who you are. Hopefully, the end result of this process will have the public knowing just who you are as well.

Anthony J. Perrotta Jr.
Colts Neck, N.J.

Delaware's big deal a costly day at the races

Last Sunday it was Delaware Park's turn to play big man on campus. The racetrack put up purse money totaling $1,400,000, with two stakes races having purses of $750,000 and $250,000. The "event" drew an announced ontrack crowd of 7,050, who created ontrack handle of $257,214, or on average each bettor wagered $36.50 - awesome! The total handle was $2,566,985 - double awesome! The money Delaware Park earned from the takeout left the racetrack short of covering the purse money by over a million bucks before the day's operating expenses and costs are added in.

"What, us worry? We got slots."

The two stakes races were won by the favorites, both paying $4. And, of course, neither Thoroughbred had set foot at Delaware Park previously this year, and their owners, trainers, and jockeys are rarely seen at the racetrack during the meet, if at all. They are clearly undeserving of walking away with six-figures purses while local horsemen hang on the fence and watch.

What do six-figure purses accomplish? Three things: (1) They make shippers prosperous, (2) they steal purse money from the local horsemen, and (3) they create a torrent of red ink. What six-figure purses do not accomplish is people interest, particularly if slot machines are next door. If Delaware Park had stayed dark Sunday, it would have well over a million bucks available for purses for the rest of its meet.

Next up: Monmouth Park and the Haskell and another financial bloodbath.

Wendell Corrow
Barkhamsted, Conn.

New York security moves defy common logic

Some weeks ago it was reported in my local daily that fans would no longer be allowed to stand along the Saratoga backstretch rail during the card. I am assuming, perhaps mistakenly, that this was done to prevent some type of mischief - interference during a race or actual harm to a passing horse. If that is the case, I'm puzzled. Isn't it even more likely that someone situated along the rail of the stretch could create a major security problem just before, during, or just after a race? (For example, the deranged fellow who tried to punch out Artax during a sprint on the Preakness undercard some years back suddenly appeared in the stretch.) Would the New York Racing Association ever rule that fans could no longer hug the stretch rail as the horses came thundering down to the wire? Of course not.

This new "security" move by NYRA would appear to be as ill-conceived as its current ban on bottles at the track. If glass is viewed by NYRA as a potential weapon, why did they sell Belmont Breezes (a potent liquor concoction known to impair judgment) in glasses on Belmont Stakes Day, and why did they give each Belmont fan two very sturdy one-pint glass tumblers (with paid admission) on July 3, the day of the Suburban?

Sam Ludu
Baldwin, N.Y.

Cup future wager lacked local promotional drive

I doubt that the inability to offer Breeders' Cup future wagering on "75 to 100" horses in each race was what resulted in the small pool totals for these bets in 2002 and 2003, and the bet's suspension this year ("No Cup future bet this year," July 17).

A more likely cause was a lack of promotion of the bets by various tracks and simulcast wagering locations. Not only did the casinos I visited in Mesquite, Nev., not dedicate monitors to updated odds, they wouldn't provide a printout of those odds at any time during the final afternoon of each wager.

My experience with attempts to place those bets was not unique. I thought at the time that some day I would read that the betting public had no interest in these bets. And so it is!

Bill Remmel
Saint George, Utah

Bombs bursting in air don't belong at the track

When it comes to the Fourth of July at the racetrack, the horses should come first. There is nothing wrong with celebrating the birthday of our great country, but not at the racetrack, regardless of the track's relationship with the local community.

For one, the majority of people in attendance for the fireworks are not racing fans who will come back on other days. Second, but far more importantly, fireworks scare the living daylights out of the horses at the racetrack's barns. Something must be done about this. It is not fair to all involved: horses, owners, trainers, grooms, exercise riders, and hotwalkers.

Have you ever been at a barn during a fireworks display, especially when the grand finale comes and there are countless big booms in rapid succession? Let's think very hard about this. Tracks should do the right thing - put the horses first - and end the fireworks displays at the tracks.

Blaine M. Panitch
Willowbrook, Ill.