02/08/2002 1:00AM

Letters to the editor


Magna venture has a touch of madness

I have a suspicion that when Frank Stronach was in kindergarten, his report cards often carried the notation "Does not work and play well with others." How else do you explain Magna Entertainment's decision to (1) isolate their few tracks from the rest of the racing world by creating a special wagering/broadcast network designed to carry only Magna or Magna-approved products, and (2) charging a fee that is in excess of what most casual or even moderate racing fans pay annually to attend the races, either live or at an offtrack facility. ("New TV racing channel available - at a price," Feb. 3.)

It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same act repeatedly, expecting a different result each time. The Racing Network tried the multiple-track, multiple-channel broadcast system, and went down in flames. Resurrecting TRN (with the added twist of quadrupling the monthly access fee) is not likely to attract sufficient fans to make it financially viable. Instead, it merely turns the rest of us on to the joys of winter racing outside of California, and punishes the Santa Anita fans, either financially or through deprivation of product.

When I learned last year that California was going (finally) to allow telephone wagering, I was ecstatic. Now I could have an option for getting down on a race when going to the offtrack parlor was inconvenient. I should have known it would never be that simple here. The groups responsible for racing in California could screw up a one-car funeral, and this latest fiasco is a perfect example of the kind of petty bickering, pseudo-fiefdom-creating, fan-antagonizing thinking that permeates California racing.

The golden goose is on life-support, folks. Either heal it or pull the plug.Jeffrey Harbin

Encinitas, Calif.

Racing Network redux a foolhardy notion

Magna and Company are out of their minds.

After reading about their new satellite venture, I had to respond to the arrogance and insanity of Magna Entertainment, Greenwood Racing, and Roberts Communications.

I've seen both The Racing Network and Television Games Network over the past two years, and definitely have enjoyed viewing the races at home on television. But if TRN couldn't sign up enough customers when it was charging the fair amount of $25 per month, who in the world do Magna, et al. think will pay $100 per month, not to mention spending an additional $320 for the equipment, plus installation and shipping, for a grand total of close to $500?

After Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park close in April, who is going to pay a $100 a month for Remington Park, Great Lakes Downs, Thistledown, etc.? Not me.

When Tod Roberts talked about eliminating "talking heads," as well as horse racing being a "specialty niche product," I couldn't agree more. The most important thing to a horseplayer is to be able to see the races. But by putting such an outrageous price on this product, once again Magna is not helping exposure.

Personally, I'll get in my car and go to a simulcast facility and bet the $100, or more, rather than give it to Magna.

The reality is, if you give the dish out for free and charge a reasonable monthly fee, Magna will do much better in the long run. Don't make this huge mistake.

Mike Dante

Villa Park, Calif.

To sleep, perchance to be fleeced

A few weeks ago the Racing Form published a letter that presented a humorous and satirical list of events that might occur in 2002 ("But crystal ball, about that late double . . .," Jan 27). I thought the letter was a riot and I was envious of the writer's wit. But then I had a funny dream about a 2002 event and thought it might belong on that list.

I dreamt that a major racing organization announced a new racing television system with many racing channels. It required that I add a new dish-like antenna to the two (Television Games Network and the old Racing Network) that I already have on my roof. I dreamt that all of these TV systems were going to cost me over $2,000 ($800 for the old one and $1,500 for the new system) for the year.

Crazily enough, I dreamt that these TV stations forced me to add their account wagering systems to the two (Brisnet and Philly Phonebet) I already possess.

So in the end I had three antennae on my roof, four account wagering systems and one very angry wife.

Wow, wasn't that a funny dream?

Freight Freitas

Medford, Mass.

Florida stewards erred on side of elitism

Unlike the stewards in south Florida, I actually watched the Ft. Lauderdale Handicap from Gulfstream Park, and I remain confused about the stewards' decision to suspend jockey Eibar Coa for 30 days.

Although almost any race fan would describe Mr. Livingston's trip as rough, Coa happened to be battling with one of America's preeminent jockeys in Jerry Bailey. If this stakes had occurred on the inner dirt at Aqueduct , New York stewards probably would have responded with a much shorter suspension.

The response of Mr. Livingston's trainer, Bill Kaplan, to Coa's suspension speaks volumes. Kaplan seemed shocked "at the severity of the suspension," and it seems quite clear that only the opinions of upper-echelon trainers and jockeys matter in the world of Thoroughbred racing.

For a sport that tries to emphasize the "fairness of the game," suspensions like the one given to Coa underline why so many sports fans stay away from the track.

Justin Mauro

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Standard logic ruled in Bailey v. Coa

When a case is sent to the jury for deliberation, the jurors accept or reject testimony, taking the credibility and character of the witnesses into account. The Gulfstream Park stewards did the same.

How often do Jerry Bailey and/or Bill Mott bitterly complain about the running of a race they've just won? Come on, Bailey and Mott are simply more credible here. Does there have to be a terrible accident before a 30-day suspension is imposed? Let's hope not.

Carl Santangelo

Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

A call to place a saver on Romero

I suggest that everyone who goes to the races give the equivalent of one $2 bet to help pay for Randy Romero's surgery ("Facing kidney transplant, Romero is uninsured," Jan 30). This would be a tremendous help to him and would be like having a winner.

Tracks could have a designated window for people to give to Romero, just like placing a bet. This would be more effective than asking people to send money to a fund.

Eldora Gould

Lebanon, Ohio

Caveat for Californians: Watch your wallets

Much has been written about the state of California racing and its inferior product, especially when compared with New York. But what about access to that product?

On a visit last year to Southern California, I was dismayed to find that the Surfside Race Place satellite facility at Del Mar charges a $3 admission fee, and as much as $6 for parking some days. And the program is extra. But do you know what? The building was full!

Southern California bettors, beware. By demonstrating a willingness to pay that much for the privilege of entering a simulcast facility, you are encouraging rapacious industry cynics to test how much the market will bear.

In the meantime, nearby Tijuana offers free simulcasting and great-value food.

Roger French

Chevy Chase, Md.