06/30/2005 11:00PM

Letters to the editor


Too little known of work habits in Queen's Plate

E.P. Taylor must be rolling over in his grave.

The 146th running of the Queen's Plate, Canada's historic race, was won last Sunday by Wild Desert, a shipper from Monmouth Park who had not raced since the Arkansas Derby 10 weeks previous. During that time, the colt had only two reported works, a five-furlong breeze, and a three-furlong breeze. An assistant to Wild Desert's suspended trainer, Richard Dutrow Jr., informed Daily Racing Form, however, that the colt had been working every five or six days, usually "very early" in the day at Monmouth Park ("Off 10 weeks, with scant works, Wild Desert looks the wild card," June 26). The same article reported that Monmouth, unlike some other major racing jurisdictions, does not require horses to be identified before training.

With that as background, it was indeed a pleasure to read that one Daniel Borislow, Wild Desert's principal owner, bragged of cashing out for more than $100,000 in wagers ("An altogether odd Queen's Plate," June 29). The inside money had bet the horse down to 3-1.

One can assume that characters of the ilk of Dutrow and Borislow will always take every possible advantage. Lovers of racing, however, can question the indifference, and even negligence, of Monmouth management and the racing commission in New Jersey. Why in the world would they allow an unidentified horse access to the track for training?

Dave Perkins of the Toronto Star, in commenting on this disgraceful episode, noted that "racing insists on remaining a second-class sport without standardized rules." What a shame.

Kenneth Wiener
Toronto, Ontario

Big-race prices have fans near breaking point

I have to say I was a little shocked by the explanation by Charles Hayward, chief executive of the New York Racing Association, for raising Travers Day admission prices at Saratoga ("Travers prices upped," June 29).

Why are racing fans continually gouged on ticket prices for so-called popular races? Is it fair that people who attend the races should pay a higher admission price to help subsidize the raceday security barns? Since when are patrons responsible for prerace security? If NYRA is insinuating that it does not make enough money during the Saratoga meet to pay for these barns, then something is definitely wrong. (Also, is $18 a "great value" for someone sitting in Section Y on Travers Day?)

Management at NYRA must be kidding itself if it thinks people will continue to pay these outrageous prices to watch a race. To think this year's Belmont Stakes crowd was as low as it was because of the humid weather is crazy. NYRA basically priced most of the people who attended this race in the past right out of the racetrack, and, by banning alcohol, guaranteed they will never come back. Why is it that you can bring your own beer into so many other tracks, but not Belmont? I have attended at least 20 Belmont Stakes, and I have never witnessed anything worse than what happens in the infields at Churchill and Pimlico.

While I am sure you can charge probably any admission price you want at Saratoga and get it without much complaint, I cannot understand why NYRA feels these big races warrant almost doubling prices. It will be only a matter of time until someone realizes that not everyone will be able to afford $10 to park, $10 for admission, $3 for a program, and on and on.

I used to joke to friends that I needed to hit the double just to break even, and that is now getting closer to reality.

Michael Infurna
Red Bank, N.J.

New York racing embattled on at least two fronts

Steven Crist's June 19 column, "Hevesi takes the cake," illuminated the problems New York racing faces from all sides.

New York State's comptroller, Alan Hevesi, continues to waste public funds exposing the shortcomings of the New York Racing Association's corporate controls. This matter has been beaten to death. Where were the politicians for the last 20 years when these practices were occurring?

If Hevesi wants to find out what is wrong with horse racing lately, let him go to the grandstand at Belmont on any day and speak to the people there. He will save taxpayers money and get the answers much faster than any audit.

As for New York City Offtrack Betting, all I can say is it has never had a clue or cared about the bettor. It seems to me that all OTB's across the state are run for political patronage and no other reason.

NYRA could get back much of its lost business by offering rebates to its account-wagering customers. Many a big bettor would likely take the opportunity to bet through NYRA ONE accounts if they were given the same perks they are given by offshore sites. Of course, the politicians and OTB's would prevent this.

What we have here are different agencies looking for a cut of the pie. In their shortsightedness, though, they don't really care about the product or the customer.

Aaron Shapiro
East Meadow, N.Y.

Honesty often ignored as a racing policy

I am a longtime racing fan and bettor who has become disenchanted with the way some "supertrainers" are being allowed to operate, and I appreciate all efforts by the industry to clean itself up. Stan Bergstein's June 16 column, "Drug cheats focus of expos?," was important because it clearly put the focus on the unethical use of painkillers and other drugs.

I follow the Southern California circuit and was so disappointed when trainer Jeff Mullins blurted out his infamous remarks indicating his lack of concern for the fans and just trying to win. It is not right for the horses, it is not right for an honest business, and it is not right for the fans and bettors.

I know that racing has always had an underside, but I felt that the great competitive hearts of the Thoroughbreds, the skilled handling by experienced horsemen, the verve and talent of top jockeys, and the challenge of handicapping made it all worthwhile. Now, though, there is a much larger negative dimension with the illicit use of sophisticated drugs.

Having mentioned Jeff Mullins, I have to say that around the same time that he was in the news, another local trainer, Adam Kitchingman, was also caught using illicit substances ("Kitchingman runners quarantined," Feb 25). But I have to give him credit: He admitted that he was doing so and said that he would rethink his approach. I admire him because I think he was the only one who was willing to admit what he was doing and look for better ways to operate.

Erika Holderith
Los Angeles