06/03/2005 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor


Use of whip in Preakness draws protest

I noted one thing in particular about the contact between Scrappy T and Afleet Alex in this year's Preakness Stakes, as did jockey Gary Stevens, quoted in Jay Hovdey's May 28 column, "Dominguez deserves sanctions." I saw how unusually high Scrappy T's jockey, Ramon Dominguez, raised his arm to gather maximum strength before whipping his horse left-handed.

The blow may have gone under the horse's belly and hit him on his most sensitive parts instead of on his hindquarter. It hurt, in a counterproductive way that caused Scrappy T to fold under the blow, then change course. Let's hope the jockey remembers that Scrappy T kept on going at the same speed after he put his whip away.

Dominguez should be reprimanded for irrational punishment and be forced to keep his future use of whip to a minimum to encourage his horses, not to cut them in two.

Christine Picavet
Ruidoso, N.M.

Stricter Derby field rules would boost prep quality

I love the idea of limiting the number of Kentucky Derby starters, which was the premise of the May 22 letter to the Racing Form "Running Derby as mob scene robs good ones."

Aside from the obvious safety benefit of limiting the field to 14, an emphasis on the first 10 starting berths being dependent on graded earnings would breathe new life into the Triple Crown prep season. I for one am tired of horses having three or four lifetime starts before the Derby. In a short time, we have watched the "optimum" time for a final prep race go from two to three to four weeks, and now the Florida Derby is five weeks out.

I'm happy to see that this year's Derby and Preakness winners made a good number of starts and competed in important events as 2-year-olds. The trend of fewer and fewer starts weakens the sport and leads to "champions" being honored for four-race campaigns.

Bill Boney
Northfield, N.J.

A worthy winner may be left on sidelines

I disagree with the idea of limiting the Kentucky Derby field, as expressed in the May 22 letter "Running Derby as a mob scene robs good ones." Had the proposal been in effect this year, it would have been entirely possible that the race's first and second finishers in the race - Giacomo and Closing Argument - would not even have qualified to run. The fact that Giacomo finished third in the Preakness proves that he was no fluke.

Three-year-old horses can improve overnight, so too much attention can be paid to their past performances. In fact, Giacomo will probably go on to win the Belmont Stakes. (Like most fans, I totally disregarded Giacomo in the the Triple Crown's first two races, but I believe in him now.)

Daniel F. Olivier
Bullhead City, Ariz.