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Letters to the editor
Kentucky group puts its stress on integrity
Kentucky is represented by two horsemen's organizations: The Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, which claims as members any state licensee, whether philosophically aligned or not, and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association/ Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, which represents 1,000 dues-paying members. The KHBPA's recent reports concerning Kentucky's position on uniform medication rules does not represent the broader view of most Kentucky horsemen. The KTA/KTOB membership, as well as a large group of unaligned horsemen, reject the KHBPA's negative position on change in Kentucky
The KTA/KTOB continues to support the efforts of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium. Our position has not changed and is even stronger given the professional manner in which the medication and testing consortium conducts its business. Our desire to effect change in Kentucky's rules and our further desire to seek consensus on emerging proposals, based on scientific data, clearly differs from Kentucky's current policy.
The KTA/KTOB strongly believes these changes to be in the best interest of our horses and the integrity of racing in Kentucky. The proposal from the consortium is not only about medication and testing. It also addresses backside security, penalties, as well as research on therapeutic and other medications.
Kentucky's racing is only as good as its integrity.
John T. Ward, Jr., President
Kentucky Thoroughbred Association
The consistency of class missing in modern training
Horses are conditioned today to peak, not compete. They simply don't know how to win without having their best stuff. Faced with adversity, they too often succumb to injury and stress.
It is no secret that the form of flesh-and-blood athletes runs in cycles, and there is a time when they are at their peak. Yet racing needs horses trained to compete with more.
The question is, could Bobby Frankel and his contemporaries train the Ghostzappers of today to upset the champions of two decades ago by cycling their schedules so they are "peaking"? I know who my money would be on. Horses such as Sham, Alydar, and even Bold Forbes didn't really "bounce," they just got beaten while running their hearts out, never ducking competition or circumstance.
In a sense, though, the handicapping game has not changed all that much since the late 1960's: To make the "smart" money, you have to use your savvy to pick a horse before he runs that huge race. That is done by using intuition and spotting class, one of most significant intangibles in racing. Class is what Thoroughbred racing was always about, not avoiding the bounce.
Souped-up surfaces may not be for the best
Bobby Frankel was right when he said, as paraphrased in Steven Crist's June 18 column, "Classic showdown got zapped," that horses are going faster today. But before placing Ghostzapper in the class of Secretariat and Spectacular Bid and Citation, one should consider track maintenance.
For some reason, Churchill Downs loves its track surface super-fast on Kentucky Derby weekends. Just consider the May 5, 2001, Derby, when Monarchos ran under two minutes, faster than Northern Dancer, Affirmed, and Seattle Slew. Two track records were set that day as Monarchos almost surpassed Secretariat. His was a great time, but few consider him a superhorse. The oval was playing like the Indy 500.
Track condition has played as big a part as the speed-biased breeding industry in the running times of our day's best horses. Sadly, though, those horses lack the stamina and endurance of past great champions.
The Thoroughbred is a brittle breed. Tracks should consider this before they turn their surfaces into superhighways.
Giacomo deal may give public wrong impression
So, Jerry Moss, the successful owner and breeder, has reached a deal with Frank Stronach's Adena Springs to stand Giacomo at stud when the horse's racing days are over ("Giacomo in Adena deal," June 19). Now, how does Jerry Moss, the California Horse Racing Board member, deal with Frank Stronach the racetrack (Santa Anita, Golden Gate) owner? Does anyone see a conflict of interest here?
No doubt these are both honorable men. In horse racing, however, perception is everything. You'd think these folks would get it after a while.
Rolling Hills, Calif.
Hall ballot might create too exclusive a club
Regarding the debate over the new policies on election to the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame, (as raised by the March 27 letter "New Hall voting limits recognition of excellence" and Steven Crist's April 24 column, "Hall of Fame balloting still needs work"), I was president of the Television Critics Association when we decided to institute annual awards 21 years ago. The group didn't want to give awards in numerous categories just for the sake of doing it, so we instituted a rule dictating that in order to qualify for an award, a candidate had to get two-thirds of the vote. The theory, much like the one racing has embraced, was that only the truly outstanding would be recognized.
When the votes were counted, however, no individual or program reached our standard.
Since these were the first TCA awards and some categories were not limited to that particular year, the association found itself in the awkward position of having to declare that in the entire history of television, there was nothing worth honoring. While some might applaud that judgment, the association's board didn't think it was a statement we wanted to make. An emergency meeting redefined the winners as the leading vote-getter in each category. This has served the critics and many worthy winners well in the two decades since.
Thanks to regional prejudices and the fact that in the pre-simulcasting era many racing writers never got to see horses, jockeys, and trainers from other regions, the 75-percent requirement for racing's Hall might put racing in the same quandary in which the television critics found themselves.
Nick Zito has many distinctions, but he and racing don't need one more: the last person or horse elected to the Hall of Fame.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Miami