07/08/2005 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor


Two positives very different in their severity

Having recently read of several trainer suspensions from racing because of violations in the medication policy standards, I am hard-pressed to understand the reasoning behind the stewards' rulings. The two most recent violations involve Todd Pletcher (a 45-day suspension under appeal) and Garry W. Simms (serving a 30-day suspension). ("Pletcher fined, suspended," July 5; Churchill Downs notebook item, July 1.)

Pletcher was found to have run a horse in Saratoga's 2004 meet on the often-used medication mepivacaine. Mepivacaine and acepromazine, or "ace," as it is commonly called, are widely administered medications used on Thoroughbreds as calming agents for horses who are excitable or unmanageable. They are often used for the protection of both the horse and handler when shipping, repairing of minor wounds, and even shoeing of hard-to-handle Thoroughbreds. Because it is such a common form of anesthetic, I hardly feel that Mr. Pletcher would purposely administer or order the administration of this drug to alter the performance of one of his runners on race day. Traces of any type medication can linger in a horses system for 48 hours or more, depending on the dosage and other factors. This appears to be a clearly unintentional act.

On the other hand, trainer Garry W. Simms was found guilty of administering or allowing the administration of sildenafil, a human erectile dysfunction drug sold under the brand name Viagra.

One medication is commonly used around the racetrack and administered by licensed veterinarians, and the other is a medication prescribed for humans with no known legal veterinary use. One trainer was apparently following the rules and not trying to deceive the public or defraud the sport. The other's motives are far less clear, yet the suspension for Mr. Pletcher exceeds that of Mr. Simms.

I ask anyone to feel free to explain the actions of the racing officials in charge to me and the other horsemen and fans trying to make a living and enjoy the sport we love.

Tim Pearl
Louisville, Ky.

Gomez story welcome as good news all around

Thank you for "At home and track, Gomez is winning," (May 29), about Garrett Gomez, a rider who, like so many people, has had problems with substance abuse.

As an owner and a fan of this great sport for 20 years, I get a little sick of the medication and Jeff Mullins stories, the Marty Wygod drama - although, understandably, those things are going to get a lot of press. The Gomez story, though, is about a guy who never got ruled off, never suspended, never played games with the stewards. He just hit bottom and needed help. Thanks to the Winners Foundation and a lot of real friends and family, he got well.

Right now all he has done is gone straight to the top of the rider standings - in California, no less.

As a personal friend of Garrett's, I find his story special because he stood up like a big boy, went though the program, and did it so he could have his family back, and none of that was easy.

Owners and fans both get all he's got. If Go-Go's got horse, you're in. If not, he takes care of them. Ask the trainers, they'll tell you. Garrett Gomez has always been one of the best riders in the world; now he's wants to be the best husband and father. He is truly a role model.

Jon Rohloff
Las Vegas

Rider's comeback puts game in perspective

It is amazing to see what Garrett Gomez, one of the top jockeys in the country, has accomplished, and he has not even been back a year.

It is great to see that Gomez has himself back on track and his family life together. Fans sometimes get caught up in cashing tickets. Seeing such a humble and grateful person as Gomez get his life together, however, is more important than cashing a $2 win bet.

Everyone has problems - the key is how we deal with them. Apparently, Gomez is dealing with them the right way.

I hope Gomez wins the Hollywood Park riding title, but even if he doesn't, he has definitely won in life.

Kevin Mason
Northridge, Calif.

Can't-bring-your-own policy takes away family fun

My wife and I, along with our 8-year-old son and his buddy, attended the races on July 4 at Finger Lakes Racetrack. Upon entering the track that hot and sunny day, we were told by security that our cooler with two sports drinks and two bottled waters, along with my son's backpack with crackers, pretzels, and a Nerf football, were not allowed into the track.

Evidently this would cut into the profit margin that the track's owners, Delaware North, would recoup from selling us these items inside the track.

Finger Lakes seems to be doing much better in the past few years thanks to the addition of the video lottery terminals, so I was a bit perplexed as to this recent change in policy. You would think that management would want to make it enjoyable for families to attend the races.

Saratoga is just around the corner, and it actually allows families to bring those items in. Management at Finger Lakes should change its current policy and make it user-friendly for families.

Rod Dillon
Canandaigua, N.Y.

Bettor can't drop a dime with one account

In the great state of California, home bettors need two accounts because of contracts involving the two major account-wagering companies, Television Games Network and XpressBet. With the advent of the 10-cent superfecta minimum, I figured I would go with the flow. The bet allows small-bankroll players many combinations they never would have if the minimum were a dollar. So I said, fine, I'll play it, too.

I can play it with XpressBet on tracks like Lone Star, Hawthorne, and Delaware, but not Hollywood, Arlington, Keeneland, and many others, because TVG refuses to add the dime super to its system. Since it is the only company in my state to take these tracks, I have quit betting supers at these tracks until TVG wakes up and put the 10-cent minimum into the system.

If TVG is going to promote itself as the premier account-wagering company, it should act like it and start offering all bets that racetracks offer.

Mark Bertolucci
San Francisco