04/15/2005 12:00AM

Letters to the editor

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Sweet Catomine information gap has some riled

So Sweet Catomine had bled badly enough in a workout to be sent to a clinic for 48 hours, while owner Marty Wygod and trainer Julio Canani decided whether to scratch the big favorite out of the Santa Anita Derby . . . all without a word to the public, bettors, or racing in general ("Controversy surrounds Sweet Catomine, owner," April 13). What else will these "sportsmen" and their industry's "watchdog" officials do to alienate bettors?

Every major sport has an injury report of problems its athletes have, and how that may affect their readiness to perform in upcoming games, just to keep things on the up-and-up. This type of information in a horse race is even more crucial. Yet these "sportsmen" didn't say a word during the week before the race. And officials have yet to take them to task.

Alkalizing agents, con jobs, arrogance toward the public and bettors-nice work, industry. And you wonder why people aren't flocking to the races.

Bob Lovka
Los Angeles

Advice to fellow bettors: Don't get fooled again

Just what horse racing needs, another black eye on national television. At a time of negative stories about alkalizing agents and mob fixes at Aqueduct, along come Marty Wygod and Julio Canani, deceiving racing fans about Sweet Catomine's condition and fitness before they send her out for the Santa Anita Derby. I wonder what Corey Nakatani thinks about riding for them in a dangerous sport now that he knows what's up.

Sweet Catomine was not fit and "doing great" as the owner and trainer claimed, and they both knew it. Far from it. Yet they sent her out to run, defrauding the public about the horse. Wygod and Canani disrespected their sport and racing fans everywhere. They blackened the reputation of a champion filly. Handicapping principles may have suggested a play against Sweet Catomine, but the owner and trainer made sure that "play-against" held up. They should both be suspended from racing and fined the amount the public bet on Sweet Catomine.

Fans everywhere should remember this lie, and the next time Wygod, or Canani, says a horse is "doing great," run to the windows and bet against that horse.

Edward Woisin
Rochester, N.Y.

Racing board's attention better focused elsewhere

The criticism of Marty Wygod by the California Horse Racing Board is way out of line ("Wygod denies violating California board rules," April 14). Why is it a crime doing what you think is right for your horse?

Do owners have to report things such as prerace ankle or knee injections? Should trainers report when a horse does not clean his feed tub? The public was not harmed in any way by Mr. Wygod's actions, and any owner would do the same thing if they felt it were in the best interests of their horse.

The California racing board will, however, allow racing a horse - Pearls 'n' Satin in the ninth race at Santa Anita on April 10 - whose trainer had not won in more than a year, whose jockey had won once out of 43 tries this year, and who had worked no faster than six-furlongs in 1:16 at Fairplex, with several three- to four-week gaps in the works. The board witnessed that horse get bet down from a 30-1 morning line to 12-1 and win like a 3-5 shot, and seemed not to think twice about investigating. The racing board should worry more about deception and less about a good man for racing.

Charlie Garcia
Inglewood, Calif.

Staggered races make for better business

I am frustrated by how often tracks across the country have races going off within one or two minutes of each other, making it difficult to watch the last-minute tote board shifts for multiple tracks simultaneously.

Don't these track operators realize that when they have their races going off at the same time as races at other tracks, they are costing both attention and, ultimately, money. If the tracks made it so that their races were happening several minutes apart from each other, instead of near-simultaneously, they would all get more play.

Steve Grayson
Northridge, Calif.

Midwesterner found warm greeting out West

Coming from Arlington Park in Chicago to Santa Anita is a big step for anybody. But when you're a Midwest trainer with just one horse, and when that one horse has been on the mend, it's a giant step to take into the world of prestige racing. The last thing I expected was to be treated like I was a world-class, Hall of Fame trainer.

Yet that's exactly the welcome we received at Santa Anita. From the outriders to the security guards, from Rick Hammerle in the racing office to George Haines and Ron Charles, the warmth, friendliness, and just plain good will we enjoyed was simply stupendous.

Everyone at Santa Anita went out of their way to make us and Miss Terrible, a seven-time Grade 1 stakes winner in her native Argentina, feel right at home, which we feel greatly contributed to her winning the Grade 3 Los Flores on Feb. 27, her first race back after an 18-month layoff. Speaking on behalf of myself, my family, and Carol and Charles Hammersmith, Miss Terrible's owners, we are proud and grateful for such a showing at one of the world's most gracious and beautiful racing venues.

Thank you, Wesley Ward, for your generosity in making your barn available to us, and to Santa Anita and Frank Stronach for delivering hospitality long past the finish line.

Brad Ross
Carol Stream, Ill.

Track's food policy hurts family action

Bay Meadows is once again on its own after having been operated by Magna Entertainment Corp. for several years, and management seems to be working double-time with all its promotions and giveaways and gaining the cooperation of offtrack betting parlors in other counties. As the track encourages the entire family to spend weekends there, though, attendance still dwindles. One reason, perhaps: Management has prohibited its patrons from bringing their own food in hopes of selling meals at track kiosks.

I would like Bay Meadows to stay solvent, but not to this extent. There are other means of raising revenue. Perhaps legislators could be convinced to allow local casinos or card clubs to offer simulcast betting, for one.

Management should just let patrons bring their favorite fruits and homemade meals as they enjoy more than 10 hours of simulcast racing on weekends. After all, a group of five probably circulates at least $1,000 worth of bets every weekend. The takeout generated is more than the profit on meals, since the overhead is less than that of meal preparation.

And that leak that drips directly on our tables should be fixed permanently. It projects a pathetic image on an industry that promotes the sport of kings and royals.

Othello Oca
San Francisco