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Letters to the editor
Dime superfecta needs universal bettor access
The ten-cent superfecta has now made its way to Hawthorne and Keeneland, and I think the bet is a great idea for one reason: the IRS. This will almost eliminate it from the play, and that is a great thing.
As for the bet itself, it won't work until it is universally available. I, for one, cannot play a ten-cent unit with any of the three accounts that I hold, putting me at a distinct disadvantage. If someone can take down the whole pool for a dime and I have to do it for a dollar, I can't compete on a level playing field.
One big negative is that longshot superfectas will come down sharply in price, just like $1 part-wheels have devastated pick three and pick four prices. The lower the base rate, the more likely people are to hit that "all" button, and catching a longshot in any position is severely watered down.
On the flip side, the chalk superfectas will increase in price as people will tend to give equal emphasis to all horses involved and not really zero in on the contenders they like best. More spreading means a better price for the favorite numbers. All in all, though, I support the new wager, and when it can be bet everywhere I will become more involved. Since I assume that's the main reason for the implementation, that would make it a success.
Magna shouldn't alter course of New York racing
Once again Magna Entertainment Corp.'s lack of ability to plan ends up hurting their fans. I am referring to their changing the run-up distance in nine-furlong races at Gulfstream Park in mid-meet ("Run to first turn extended," March 25). This makes all my track models for this distance now useless and throws the rest of the races into chaos for a brief time.
What was Magna thinking when it made this track? Didn't one person there understand even basic geometry enough to do this right the first time? It's bad enough Magna tore down a perfectly good track clubhouse and grandstand for reasons that still make no sense to me. Now it had to hurt its clientele with this move.
I hope the New York State legislature and the Friends of New York Racing keep Magna and Frank Stronach out of New York racing. The New York Racing Association may not be perfect, but Magna's brand of business is terrible and certainly not wanted by this New Yorker.
Tougher drug penalties should be top priority
Step into the wonderful world of horse racing. We have cheating horsemen, suspicious bet-downs, high takeouts, and a group of legislators who could care less. A change must start at the top.
Rather than attempt to halt the rampant drug use, the California Horse Racing Board decided to implement shallow procedures that appear significant only on the surface. Testing for alkalizing agents, while effective, is such a small measure. The 30-day quarantine as punishment is equivalent to getting two days' detention at school. These motions are nice, but they appear to be nothing more than posturing.
Maybe more alarming, the person in charge of the testing efforts also works as a veterinarian for a few trainers, including the one who ran one-two in the Santa Anita Handicap. Is there any wrongdoing? I cannot say, but a conflict of interest definitely exists.
Every state, not just California, is to blame for the current state of the game. By installing slap-on-the-wrist fines and suspensions, the powers that be convey the message that illegal drug use is at worst, a minor, innocuous problem. If trainers got suspended for a year for first offenses, and vets got banished for life, they would think it is a serious offense, justifying the public outcry that would follow. The rules in place now tell horsemen to screw up a few times and then find a new way to cheat. The penalties should make horsemen afraid to screw up at all.
Throw in a 20-plus percent takeout and strange odds-dropping bets that seem to occur after races start, and you do not exactly get the most marketable product. If I wanted to worry about humans cheating, I would bet baseball.
No wonder the youngest people you see at the track now are 45 years old. There is no fan base among youth, who are being lured by poker tables instead. Who could blame them? They get a game with less cheating, lower takeout, and a lawmaking body that cares about them. Now, that's a novel idea.
Hall ballot missing two prime candidates
Once again the nominating committee for the Hall of Fame has left the names of John Campo and William Turner off the ballot. Can the committee please explain the reason why these two great trainers have been overlooked again?
I am not only a fan but have been a horseman for 33 years. These two trainers have accomplished as much if not more than anyone nominated this year. Campo not only trained a Kentucky Derby winner, Pleasant Colony, but also trained 2-year-old colt and filly champions the same year with Protagonist and Talking Picture in 1973. He also trained many stakes winners, some of whom he bought for a ham sandwich. He also was known as a great claiming trainer. He may have been outspoken at times, but as he once said to a smart-aleck television reporter, "I'm a good horse trainer," and he was right.
As far as William Turner goes, do any of the knowledgeable people on this panel remember a horse named Seattle Slew? Well guess who trained him? That's right, William H. Turner Jr. If I recall, that horse won the Triple Crown, didn't he? Did any of this year's training nominees win a Triple Crown? Turner also won many other stakes races and is known as a great all-around horseman. It's a shame that some of the great trainers of our day have to be dead to get into the Hall of Fame. The people who make nominating rules should make those rules available to the public and stop making the Hall of Fame their own private club.
Anthony A. Stabile
Howard Beach, N.Y.
Cheers to Suffolk for taking off ill-fitting 'Cap
At least Suffolk Downs management has finally got it: They are canceling the Massachusetts Handicap ("Suffolk cancels Mass 'Cap," April 7).
Hooray! They are finally paying attention to the owners and trainers who provide horses throughout the meet. Or, stated another way, track management has finally realized that such a race does nothing for the racetrack's profitability, does not create new bettors, and is a horrific financial loser.