09/22/2005 11:00PM

Letters to the editor


California panel seeks too much in video effort

It is with great sadness that I read the Sept. 22 article "CHRB seeks surveillance power," about the proposed "emergency" rule, advocated by a California Horse Racing Board commissioner, Richard Shapiro, to monitor horses by video camera. (I'm wondering where the little microphones and cameras will go.)

Horses are already tested, monitored, and quarantined. Racing board investigators are seen all over the barn areas. Trainers and owners are fined. Purses are redistributed. Now comes a proposal to violate more civil rights. We are fools to think that the horses themselves are what are going to be monitored.

When citizens willingly give away their rights in the name of "security," people are persecuted.

This will do nothing to help racing. In fact, I truly believe this will be the final nail in its coffin. Those in power will have no one to blame but themselves. Lack of entries has everything to do with the outrageous regulations and costs heaped on California owners and trainers. Look at every meeting statistic in existence: Bigger fields equal more handle.

Lori Cain
Fresno, Calif.

Internet prohibitions make an overly tangled web

I have closed my BrisBet account. My XpressBet account was closed by order of the attorney general of the state of Connecticut, simply because I am a Connecticut resident and the attorney general says Internet betting on horse races is illegal. Next I will close my Connecticut Off-Track Betting phone account - in protest. I have a couple of other accounts I intend to close, too, because if I don't close them, the state of Connecticut will.

It simply is not worth the hassle to break the law for a game that takes, on average, 17 percent of the money I wager. Sure, my chances of getting fined are small, but it could happen. I'm not a big enough bettor that I will lose my livelihood. If I were a big bettor, I'd move to England, Costa Rica, the islands, or someplace with a more liberal attitude to wagering.

Funny, I can bet on the Internet at Hedgestreet.com for as little as a couple of dollars whether crude oil will close above or below $65 tomorrow, but I can't use the Internet to bet on a horse in the 10th at Mountaineer.

John Swetye
Darien, Conn.

Woodward tactics all part of the game

I have been a fan of racing since I was a little boy (some 40 years now), and I always have been one for fairness and equality in racing.

This year's Woodward Stakes was a nice race run with truly three competitors. Yes, there were "rabbits" entered, as in the old days, and, yes, the best horse won. First - everyone in the world knew the "rabbit" entry was entered for speed only and no one in his right mind would think either claiming sprinter would win a graded stakes race of 1 1/8 miles.

Second, if trainer Richard Dutrow could have entered the two rabbits and the eventual winner, Saint Liam, as a three-horse entry, there would be no complaints, and Dutrow would be praised for the move to dampen Commentator's early speed.

Third, I myself am tired of small fields where one speed horse backs down the pace so that the late-runners have no chance to catch him. To me, that's boring and does not give you an accurate account of which horse was best.

I also read a Sept. 18 letter to the Racing Form, "Woodward scenario has a fan hopping mad," about an "accident" possibly occurring if Commentator or Crafty Player had gotten spooked. I ask the writer, do you also cringe when there are 10 to 14 horses entered in turf races where horses are on top of each other? Or in a Kentucky Derby where 20 horses start, are subject to extensive bumping, and the best horse does not always win? The Derby had a hot, virtually suicidal pace this year, and I didn't see anyone complaining. Afleet Alex was probably best, but chasing the hot pace hurt his chances.

Horse racing is a sport, a sport that involves human strategy, equine athletes, and different scenarios we all can debate. Just like life.

Timothy Race
Cicero, N.Y.

Pools must close earlier or fans will drift away

For five years I have watched with countless other race-bettors - day in, day out - the odds of the winner drop, constantly.

There are only two legitimate reasons for this:

1. There is a genius who always bets at the last second and always is right and wins.

2. Track owners have an open mutuel machine, and when a horse is in deep stretch and it is apparent he is going to win, they start punching win tickets. There is no better way to make up for lost attendance and declining mutuel handle: "Just take it out of the pool."

I beg someone with some common sense to give the public a third reason how only the winner drops in odds almost every time.

There is a very simple solution. Close all betting one minute to post, and the horses don't come out of the gate till all the money is in, including offshore books, those sharpies from the Lewiston, Maine, hub included.

The track owners give a lame excuse why they don't close betting sooner: Something like, "The big bettors like to wait till the last second." That's another misguided statement.

When I bet a big number, I make sure to get it down no later than two minutes to post. Big bettors don't wait till the last second - they don't want to get shut out.

I don't do drugs, I'm not on medication, and I'm smarter than the average bear. If, however, I continue to play races believing I am being cheated, I have to apologize to trainer Jeff Mullins and concede: I'm an idiot.

George Russell
Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Compromise needed on Laurel turf racing

I agree with Andrew Beyer, for once, about Maryland racing ("Magna plan makes some sense," Sept. 10). Building a new turf course at Laurel and then cutting racing back drastically seems ridiculous.

I have a suggestion: If Laurel's owner, Magna Entertainment Corp., and horsemen cannot agree on a plan along the lines of the September-through-May schedule Beyer proposed in his Sept. 23 column, "Amid Maryland gloom, Laurel booms," why not have a few dates of turf racing, say one weekend a month during the proposed dark months?

This is just a thought from a racing fan from the Pacific Northwest, where we have no turf course.

Chuck Shelton
Seattle, Wash.

Cordero's return looks like a day to remember

In a Thoroughbred racing year that has been a tad on the lackluster side, one of the most interesting dramatic developments is the fact that Angel Cordero - at age 62 - is going to ride in two stakes races at Philadelphia Park on Oct. 1 ("Cordero to ride for one day," Sept. 19).

Angel is surely one of the greatest riders of our time, and, as the Kentucky hardboots say - or used to say - he is as game as Dick Tracy.

I, for one, will be fascinated with his two-race comeback.

W. Cothran Campbell, Dogwood Stable Inc.
Aiken, S.C.