08/27/2004 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor


Breeders' Cup has no business in New Jersey

As a longtime citizen of New Jersey, I enthusiastically applaud the comments proffered by a fellow Garden State resident in the Aug. 15 letter "New Jersey gets full Cup, its bettors get empty glass." I would, however, like to expand upon and elaborate some of the additional concerns of racing fans in New Jersey.

I live in central New Jersey, a part of the state commonly referred to as "horse country." In "horse country," however, it is illegal to wager on the outcome of an equine athletic contest unless one drives to a racetrack that offers simulcast betting or to a casino. For most of us, this drive is less than convenient. In this age of advanced technology, having to physically be present to wager (with dollar bills in hand, no less) is unnecessary, counterproductive, and, quite frankly, insulting. The awarding of the 2007 Breeders' Cup to Monmouth Park represents a cruel joke that has been played upon the citizens of New Jersey. How the Breeders' Cup in good conscience could give racing's premier event to a state that does not fully support the horse racing industry tests the limits of my understanding.

But beyond that, there exists the cold, hard facts of finances and the flow of tax revenue. I know that many horse racing bettors go to New York and to Pennsylvania to wager. Untold millions of dollars in takeout from parimutuel handle flow out of New Jersey to neighboring governments via wagers that could have been placed in New Jersey.

The act of denying or delaying the creation of New Jersey OTB is both fiscally irresponsible and legislatively incompetent. And this is where Breeders' Cup has chosen to come for its 2007 championship day? That's like awarding the Super Bowl to a city that has passed a law banning the playing of football on Sunday.

Lawrence Smith
Jackson, N.J.

Californians urged to vote on sport's behalf

I have been involved in horse racing in California my entire life. I worked on the backside and now work in the racing office. I am deeply distressed over the current state of racing here and concerned for our future. The ever-expanding Indian casinos and lack of interest on the part of California's government leads me to believe that racing in California will only decline further unless we step up and take action.

If we do not support Proposition 68 on the November ballot - which would allow slot machines at five state racetracks if Indian casinos do not give the state 25 percent of their take - who will? Everyone involved in the horse racing industry in California needs to register to vote and get to the polls.

Unfortunately, most of the people I have spoken with here are not registered to vote or don't bother to vote. Apathy is not going to solve any of our problems. We cannot sit back and wait to see how elections will turn out. We must take part in them. We might not win, but we must at least try.

Linda Anderson
Pleasanton, Calif.

Trainer's words hit sour note with a fan

Here's a challenge for the Del Mar stewards: Check out Brad Free's Aug. 14 column, "Mullins, O'Neill changing the game," quoting trainer Jeff Mullins as saying, "I never try with first-time starters."

Really? He never tries? It seems to me there must be a rule somewhere that says trainers have to "try" with all the horses they start. Not that they actually do, but among all the rules of racing it has to be one of the more valuable, at least as an ideal.

Anyway, here's a top trainer admitting he enters horses without the intention of winning. So, stewards, what are you going to do about it?

Michael Fessier Jr.
Santa Barbara, Calif.

Time has come to end popular mule's racing days

In regard to the Aug. 11 article, "Popular champ Black Ruby may hang 'em up":

To the McPhersons, owners of Black Ruby: You're right - people love that hard-trying mare Black Ruby. And they want to see her stay safe and sound, and to retire with her dignity and reputation merely tarnished, not utterly corroded.

You're certainly not doing the right thing by the fans' heroine or the fans themselves by running Black Ruby with bad feet and sore hocks. I'm sure a fair meet or two would let you parade her on a farewell tour in which she wouldn't be forced to run sore.

Let the folks in the stands marvel at her record, admire her athletic build, and smile at her long and floppy ears. But don't continue to train and run her while she's hurting. You're right - we love her.

Karen Svea Johnson
Eagle, Idaho

Young British rider doesn't need touting

As a long-standing Angel Cordero admirer who has watched the career of Jamie Spencer, I must strongly object to Alan Shuback's comparison of the two riders in his Aug 22 column, "Arlington stewards need wake-up call."

Here in England there are Spencer fans who compare him to Lester Piggott. Both comparisons are laughable, even though Cordero, Piggott, and Spencer share supreme self-confidence as riders.

Cordero was bolder at taking a gap than any jockey I have ever seen, but he knew how to keep his horse on a straight line. As for Piggott, he was master of the well-timed rally to produce a horse right on the line. Spencer seeks to emulate him in this regard - although I believe that he is just arrogant enough to deny seeking to learn from anyone - but he has quite a ways to go.

Spencer has undeniable talent, but the last thing he needs is racing journalists apologizing for him in America - he already has a legion of them writing here!

Terry A. Bell

Bias theories don't hold water

All you hear about and read about concerning racing surfaces is bias. It's either inside speed, or outside closers, or a golden rail, etc. None merits consideration.

How is the track playing, the experts ask. Horses run, tracks don't play. If a day's first six races are won by horses on or near the pace, those are the horses with the best ability. If this situation goes on for a week or two, it is a matter of probability and coincidence, not bias.

What in the constitution or configuration of a racetrack favors one running style over another? Tightly turned tracks favor horses with the ability to change leads and accelerate on turns. I stress, ability. If there is a bias at all, it is because of rain. Owing to the pitch and slope of tracks, water drains to the inside, hence the term "deep rail." But who can predict where one's choice will run, so why even discuss it?

Handicappers, look for the horse with the best ability at a particular distance. Judge pace dynamics and parimutuel overlays and underlays. But as far as bias is concerned, leave it out of the equation.

Carl J. Fratello
Brentwood, N.Y.