Updated on 09/16/2011 6:55AM



One trainer's sour grapeshave bad taste

I am disappointed that in his Feb. 24 column, "Two-party Eclipse (Apples, Oranges)" Steven Crist allowed a certain trainer to remain anonymous. The direct quotes from this trainer were pompous and arrogant and greatly disparaged Scott Lake and Richard Englander with no just cause whatsoever.

The name of the game is not "quality," for the vast majority of races in this country are claiming and allowance races. The name of the game is striving for quality and excellence, not buying it.

Many high-profile entities presently involved in racing are using their respective countries' vast oil resources to fund their hobbies, not run businesses. It is the equivalent of George W. Bush going to a Keeneland yearling sale with the Federal Reserve as his personal bank. Bush the Younger spends $100 million of United States money, wins a Kentucky Derby two years later, and then we give him an Eclipse Award. Yeah, right!

Eclipse Awards should be earned, not bought, and nobody earned or deserved it more than Englander. His stable earned the most money and won the most races. Nothing more needs to be said.

One final question: Is there any chance this unnamed trainer has white hair?

Anthony Centurione Jr.

Harrisburg, Pa.

Handicaps serve only to weigh game down

I must respond to the Feb. 24 letter "Grading system needs a revamp to reward best" and its self-serving comments about "a racing office that stood up to the plate and put a legitimate weight on a legitimate horse." Would those words have been written if Xtra Heat lost the Barbara Fritchie under 128 pounds? I doubt it.

The weighing down of our stars is counterproductive to our sport. The public comes out to see the star horse win. Weight should not be used to let inferior horses get a decent purse.

This is why the Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup (weight for age) are not handicaps. This is why the NBA does not tie Michael Jordan's hand behind his back to make the game more "fair" for the less-than-superior players.

The game needs stars. Star horses bring people to the track and that is a good thing. The weighing down of the stars only leads them to early retirement to avoid carrying heavy burdens. At every racetrack in America, every day, heavy favorites lose. Heavy favorites lose in stakes races every weekend.

Equal weights do not guarantee a victory for the star horse. They still have to do it on the racetrack.

If putting heavy weight on an Eclipse Award-winning filly is Maryland's idea of good business, I feel sorry for them.

Dennis Dintino

North Brunswick, N.J.

Disrespecting a champion lacks horse sense

The only good thing about the Feb. 24 letter "Eclipse balloting shouldn't reward absentee" ridiculing Point Given's Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year is the knowledge that there's at least one horseplayer out there I know I can beat.

Is this for real? The letter's only valid point was in regard to the meaningless verbosity of "Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships." Point taken. But regarding Point Given:

The horse did everything a 3-year-old could do except win the Kentucky Derby until he sustained an injury that rendered further racing pointless.

Perhaps if an older male or female had dominated a category, Point Given might have been a suspect choice, but given the inconsistency in those areas he was the most obvious Horse of the Year since Skip Away in 1998 and maybe even Cigar in 1995.

The nonsensical comments about skating and wrestling prove that the writer handicapped this race with neither form nor figures.

Bill Feingold

Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.

Ditching D'Amico a poor game plan

When I picked up my Daily Racing Form and read that Ken McPeek had replaced Tony D'Amico on Harlan's Holiday with Edgar Prado (Feb. 23), I felt that McPeek had made a smart decision, as it seemed smart to give Prado time to get acquainted with the horse before the Kentucky Derby, and because obviously D'Amico would not be able to ride both horses on Derby Day.

When I picked up the Feb. 27 Racing Form and read that McPeek had taken D'Amico from his mount on Repent, I was appalled.

McPeek was quoted as saying that he likened the situation as to throwing your best pitcher in the final game of the World Series. I think it is more like replacing your starting quarterback with two weeks left in the season after your previous starter led you to a 12-2 start, and in this situation bringing in a replacement from another team who may go back to his old team once the Super Bowl comes around, as Bailey also has the mount on Siphonic.

I understand Bailey is Bailey, but it just doesn't make sense to me. Isn't it time that trainers show some loyalty to the jockeys who have taken their horse this far, and to reward them properly with a chance to shine in the big show?

Jason Stern

San Jose, Calif.

Tribulations of betting turning hairs gray

Horse racing is a mess, and every year it gets worse. Horseplayers have offtrack betting operations taking our money and giving nothing back to the tracks. We have Magna Entertainment attempting a near-monopoly and trying to freeze everybody out.

About two years ago I dumped my local cable carrier and got a couple of satellite dishes for the Racing Network and Television Games Network. It wasn't bad. I had phone accounts with Ladbroke and New York OTB. Oh, there were all types of restrictions, but you learn to adapt. You can't bet on Thoroughbreds after 7:30 p.m. with the New York OTB account, so you use Ladbroke after 7:30 p.m. and for pick fours and pick sixes, and you watch on TVG. Okay, we all know TVG is more of a comedy channel than a horse racing channel, but you learn to tolerate it.

Now The Racing Network is gone and now Magna wants to sell new dishes, collect an outrageous installation fee, and charge 100 bucks a month.

Nobody is thinking about the fan. Offtrack parlors and simulcast facilities should not have entrance gates or turnstiles. They should have drop boxes for us to chuck our money in. They are driving loyal players away and not enticing any young fans.

Take a walk around a racetrack - most of the fans have gray hair. I thinks its about time racing's powers that be get together before it's too late.

Tony Moda

Rochester, N.Y.

Billboards on horseback an ugly vision

Say it ain't so! I've now heard it all!

The California Horse Racing Board has approved the use of advertising on jockeys ("Place ads here" item, Feb. 17 Santa Anita Notes). Is there anything not for sale in this country?

Advertising will be permitted at California racetracks on jockey silks, pant legs, boots, leggings, and the front of collars, as well as on the saddlecloths of horses.

I can see it now: an ad on a saddlecloth saying, "For real horsepower, follow me to your Orange County Chevrolet Dealer."

Must everything in this culture be reduced to sloganeering?

Mark Mocarski

New York City