07/28/2005 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor

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Takeout drop would benefit all involved

Hats off once again to Steven Crist for being a rare voice of sanity in our beloved sport. I refer to his July 23 column, "Bettors asked to pick up check again," in which he made the case for keeping a lid on the already-obscene takeout rates in force at today's racetracks.

I am convinced a lower takeout is the only way to save our dying sport. I have been a serious horseplayer for 33 years, during which time I have seen many avid fans of the game call it quits. My favorite racetrack, Delaware Park, would likely have closed years ago were its racing product not being artificially propped up with slot-machine revenue.

The powers that be in racing seem not to understand that a bettor will churn his available bankroll over and over again. The casual fan who goes to the track with $50 and doesn't know a furlong from a foot-long will lose his $50 no matter what the takeout rate. It will just take him a few more bets to do so at a reduced takeout. Bottom line: more action, more fun. And, at a lowered takeout level, the better handicappers might just have a prayer of breaking even or showing a small profit.

Just once before I die I would love to see one racetrack experiment with a flat takeout rate of 5 percent on all wagers for an entire race meet. Or should I say just once before the sport of horse racing dies.

Steven P. Martinka
Newark, Del.

Saratoga security barns: A laughing matter?

I laughed out loud when I read that Charles Hayward, the president and CEO of the New York Racing Association, thinks the 9-by-9-foot stalls in the security barns at Saratoga are perfectly acceptable ("Horsemen: Barns miss mark," July 29).

He suggested that the small stalls were the same size as at a Fasig-Tipton sale. Did he mean a yearling sale? And better yet, is comparing NYRA's operation to Pimlico and Tampa Bay Downs when defending the temporary stall size a sign of where NYRA is headed?

Barbara Bowen
Boston

Owner seen as a boon on several fronts

Congratulations to owner Robert Bone for his San Diego Handicap victory with Choctaw Nation and his Claiming Crown Jewel win with Desert Boom. Hopefully racing won't turn on this racing enthusiast as it has with some in the past, such as Michael Gill.

Bone has been a breath of fresh air in our stagnant game. From stakes races to $3,200 claimers on the fair circuit, you can always count on his horses to be spotted to win, coast to coast. Bone has also "spread the wealth" to various trainers who I am sure appreciate the opportunity to work with such a fine horseman.

Keep up the good work, Mr. Bone. and hopefully racing will give you the pat on the back you deserve.

Charles Garcia
Inglewood, Calif.

Name policy seems to favor the crude over the clever

After watching a segment on ESPN2 regarding the naming of Thoroughbreds, and in light of the "Sensitivity gets in way of naming" portion in Steven Crist's column of June 4, "Making history without the fanfare," I believe it is time for The Jockey Club to stop being so hypocritical.

A certain owner applied to The Jockey Club to have his filly's name registered and was denied his chosen name. The name he opted for was Sally Hemings.

Sally Hemings has recently surfaced in the news because it has been documented that while a slave of Thomas Jefferson's, she bore at least one of his children.

The filly in the naming controversy was sired by Colonial Affair, and out of the mare Jefferson's Secret. To my way of thinking, the name is not only appropriate but clever. The Jockey Club, however, felt that the name may be an embarrassment to the families of Hemings and Jefferson. Moreover, they said that any horse being named after a person has to have the name condoned, with permission given in writing, by that person. The owner replied that if they were willing to dig Sally up, he would ask her to sign.

Then, said the owner, The Jockey Club revealed that if the owner could find any Sally Hemings to sign it would be acceptable. Isn't that being a little two-faced?

As Crist noted, a few years back a member of The Jockey Club who owned and raced horses, the esteemed Alfred G. Vanderbilt, used to coin clever and original names.

If The Jockey Club chooses to be so fastidious about proper names for horses, I'd like to know how it allowed Thoroughbreds to be named Slambamthankyamam, Isitingood, Drop Your Drawers, or any one of numerous other names.

The owner has filed a lawsuit against The Jockey Club for infringing on his First Amendment rights, and I sincerely hope he wins. The Jockey Club is carrying the term hypocritical to the max.

Patrick Mannion
Kissimmee, Fla.

One thin dime shouldn't buy the whole pie

I have long been betting dollar superfectas trying to make a big score. I have been lucky enough to have a few big scores, but after reading the July 27 article "Dime super winner gets lucky," how can I ever bet more than 10 cents on a superfecta?

I have no problem with the bet, but my common sense says that when a 10-cent super wager is the only winner, it should get only 10 percent of the pool, with the other 90 percent given back to players using a standard consolation format.

I don't know what I am complaining about, though, because in the long run, now that I am a 10-cent bettor, I will be saving a lot of money.

Hey brother, can you spare a dime?

Lisa Kaufman
Los Angeles

Racing board should keep hands off private business

It was with interest that I read the "Board rules on Paragallo" item in the "Belmont Notes" of July 24 about Ernie Paragallo and a ruling by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.

Doesn't New York racing have enough on its plate, with the unpopular dismissal of a racing secretary, to compound issues by meddling in the business affairs of a successful breeder and owner?

Whatever differences exist between Paragallo and the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Equine Center, there are always two sides to a story, and I can't believe that the New York board has any business ruling in either's favor. The whole game needs new thoughts and new blood.

David L. Monier
Oceanport, N.J.