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Letters to the editor
Eclipse apology and defense on center stage
As I watched the Eclipse Awards on Television Games Network this past Monday, I was very moved by Ken Ramsey's apology for the mistake he made and for which he was fined and punished ("Ramsey flies high - and low," Jan. 27). You could tell the sincerity in his voice, and it was refreshing to hear someone taking responsibility for his error for a change, not claiming it was someone else's fault.
Then, less that 30 minutes later, came Frank Stronach. He accepted his award for breeding and proceeded to state that Ken Ramsey was unfairly punished for something that, according to Stronach, happens "many, many times" and tried to explain how "the public was not damaged one bit" by Ken Ramsey's breaking of the rules.
This scares me. What Stronach was implying was that, first, if you break the rules and nobody is hurt, then it is acceptable, and second, that this is a common occurrence in his world. I think for all the good Stronach says he has tried to accomplish in horse racing, his true character showed its ugly self in that speech.
Evening's performance merits poor review
Really, now. Did our industry just give a trophy to someone who offered a bribe? Apparently, it's okay to cheat, as long as you have enough money to spend at the sales.
Even worse, the King offered a pardon, as long as fans keep paying $3 to park their cars.
Ken Ramsey, who has bragged about his gambling exploits, is lacking in the most important quality an owner can have: class.
Ray Hussa, Green Hill Stables
San Gabriel, Calif.
A simple withdrawal would have sufficed
While I do not question Ken Ramsey's sincerity in his apology, isn't it possible that his remorse was more over the fact that his receipt of the elusive Eclipse Award has been and will always be soured by his behavior?
I would have been more impressed with a more grand gesture by Ramsey, such as withdrawing from the running. Of course, that is a lot to ask, especially of someone who has labored tirelessly and been committed totally, as Ramsey obviously has. It would have eliminated, however, any lingering, if unspoken, doubts as to the worthiness of his victory.
Here's a tip for you: Offer was just plain wrong
In the Racing Form's Jan. 28 Gulfstream Notes, Bobby Frankel, defending Ken Ramsey, displayed that possessing common sense is not a requirement for being a Thoroughbred trainer. Frankel stated, "These people who are criticizing him - how many of them have given $50 to the maitre d' at the turf club or Joe's Stone Crabs to jump over someone. They're hypocrites."
Great analogy, Bobby. Ramsey's actions, while morally not offensive, were quite wrong. He attempted to influence the outcome of a race so that it would benefit his breeding interests.
Associating Ramsey's actions with overtipping a maitre d' is ridiculous. Ramsey should be fortunate that the Eclipse voting took place before his questionable actions.
Anthony Centurione Jr.
New Cumberland, Pa.
Different character might prompt different line
I would like to thank Bobby Frankel for setting me straight in regard to the actions of Ken Ramsey. And I hope Mr. Frankel would have held the same outspoken opinion if Michael Gill had pulled the same stunt and then won the Eclipse Award.
Rebate stance steps on common man
Steven Crist's Jan. 23 column, "Rebaters merely scapegoats," did a disservice to racing. To defend the actions of rebaters and big bettors insults mainstream readers and the industry as a whole.
Comparing rebating millions of dollars to preferred clients with a bank giving away a toaster for opening a savings accounts is disingenuous. Better to compare rebaters with the mutual fund crooks who let preferred customers trade after closing.
The comparison of rebates with casino comps was another poor argument. The big bettor next to me at the craps table wagering $20,000 to my $20 has no effect on my wagering outcome, as we are both playing against the same house odds. The big bettor who can infuse large dollars into a parimutuel pool, however, while reducing his level of risk through rebating and last-second odds analysis absolutely affects my outcome. With the parimutuel format, a computer programmer and a 10 percent rebate edge can hedge a lot of regular players out of the game.
The horse racing industry needs to have a parimutuel wagering system that levels the playing field for all participants, or other gaming options will bury it.
Frank J. Grande
Lamented veteran displayed the best in sports
As a horseman in south Florida, I became a devoted fan of the 12-year-old gelding Maybe Jack. Myself, and I'm sure many scores of others, have followed him over the years. In winning 35 races and over a half-million dollars, Jack won for many different owners and trainers up and down the East Coast. The one constant was that he always gave his all. It is too bad human athletes don't all have this trait.
Sadly, last Saturday at Gulfstream Park, the huge heart of this horse gave out, and he died after running in the first race ("Maybe Jack, 12, dies at Gulf," Jan. 24).
Without a royal pedigree or stakes appearance, he was the champion of the middle-class racing fan. This game warrior exemplified the courage of the Thoroughbred. For his many handlers and legion of fans over the years who will miss seeing him flying down the stretch again, his loss is like losing an old friend.
Lone Star a sorry state without stellar caller
So Michael Wrona has said he will not return as race caller at Lone Star Park ("Wrona leaves post at Lone Star," Jan. 26).
Magna Entertainment Corp. has done it again. Too bad, Texas! Wrona is the single best announcer in any racing jurisdiction. He is the most articulate, the most accurate, the most descriptive and exciting race-caller ever.
Both Magna and Churchill Downs hire monotone and uninspiring announcers. Only Tom Durkin in New York and Trevor Denman in Southern California begin to approach Wrona.