11/11/2005 1:00AM

Letters to the editor


Disabled riders feel that guild needs urgent fix

We, the undersigned permanently disabled Jockeys' Guild members, would like to recommend to our fellow active members of the Jockeys' Guild that they give careful and immediate consideration to replacing Dr. L. Wayne Gertmenian as president and chief executive officer of the Jockeys' Guild, as well as his whole team that came on board at the takeover in 2001.

We believe that only by reinstalling John Giovanni as general manager do we stand any chance of rebuilding the guild into the kind of organization that can once again inspire trust and respect and serve the needs of the active jockeys as well as the disabled riders. Everyone has a lot at stake in seeing that the guild functions properly, and Mr. Giovanni is already well informed on the intricacies of running such an organization.

The disappearance of the Disabled Jockeys' Fund is very troubling to us. That fund was started and successfully managed by Mr. Giovanni. It was of great help and many times the last resort for many a disabled jockey. Just as importantly for us, Mr. Giovanni always made himself available to us. He would always do his best to answer questions or try to help in resolving whatever problems were brought to his attention.

After listening to the Congressional hearing held last month in Washington D.C., we are more convinced than ever that something has to be done. Numerous issues were raised, but no satisfactory explanations were given. This lack of answers makes it impossible to have confidence in Dr.Gertmenian's ability to lead the guild. By failing to be forthcoming in his answers, Dr. Gertmenian has also failed to prove himself as a man who could be trusted to do what's best for the guild.

Not only has he reduced the guild to an organization that nobody trusts, but he has also insulted its members by claiming that he was more intelligent and better educated than them so they should follow blindly and not ask questions. Whoever said that a college or doctorate degree is a requisite for, or guarantee of, common sense and integrity?

We badly need a leader who understands and is familiar with the business of the Jockeys' Guild to lead us through this crisis, to put the Guild back on track and salvage what is left of our organization.

To rebuild the Guild into an organization that the jockeys can once again believe in, and that will once again serve the jockeys' needs, we do believe that Mr. Giovanni is the man we should turn to.

Gary Cohen, Wiley Denney, Jose Diaz, Gary Donahue, Michael Lee, Jose Olivares, Donald Tyre, Kevin Whitley, Dewey Henshaw, John Huggins II, Dennis Keehan, Abner Sorrows Jr., Luther Adkins, Leroy Allemand, Jayme La Rocca, Gary Birzer, David Guillory, Rodolpho Baez, Carl Gambardella, Jesse Davidson, Ronald Turcotte, Philip Ernst, Charles Maffeo, Edwin Maldonado, Joseph Butau

Fallen horse displayed finest Cup Day spirit

While the casual racing fan marveled at the performances of the winners of this year's Breeders' Cup races, the keen observer will forever recall the bravest performance of that memorable afternoon as being put forth by a horse who ran less than a quarter of a mile. Funfair's attempt to catch up to his field in the BC Mile despite being pulled up on the backstretch following a catastrophic injury speaks volumes as to his class and competitive nature. Unfortunately, these qualities led to the untimely end of his life.

Having observed horse races in person for almost 40 years, I can say with certainty that Funfair's breakdown was among the most gruesome injuries I have ever witnessed, yet this gallant and brave athlete attempted to stay in the race well past the time that made any sense to do so. Shades of Ruffian's final start came immediately to mind as I turned away from what I knew was to come next.

The fact that he had beaten Artie Schiller, the eventual winner of the Mile, in their previous meeting undeniably proved that Funfair possessed the necessary ability to win a Breeders' Cup race. But more than that, in spite of his life-ending injury, Funfair displayed the heart and courage to try to finish in front again during the final moments of his life.

My thoughts are with the connections of Funfair as they come to terms with their loss.

Lawrence Smith
Jackson, N.J.

Lack of turf 'tip of iceberg' at Hollywood Park

In my opinion, the announcement that there will be no turf racing at Hollywood Park was just the tip of the iceberg as far as the mismanagement of the track is concerned ("Turf racing canceled for entire fall meet," Nov. 3).

I feel disturbed because I just renewed my box at Hollywood, and I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for management to send me a check prorating the 27 days of racing that are actually going to be held versus the 31 originally scheduled. I also doubt that management is going to want to pay for the shipping of a horse of mine who runs primarily on the turf to some other venue.

Horse racing has enough problems without finding that the owners of a major track are so derelict in their duties. I don't have a warm-fuzzy feeling about the future of racing in California as a whole, and certainly the ineptitude displayed by Hollywood gives me even greater cause for concern.

Gregg Anderson
Palmdale, Calif.

On racing broadcasts, let's not go to the videotape

I'm a big racing fan and love the coverage of outlets like TVG. Overall, they do yeoman work in bringing us all of the information we need to watch and wager on the races. Lately, however, the coverage has become a bit confusing.

During the most recent Keeneland meet, TVG would constantly delay showing races from tracks such as Hawthorne and Calder in favor of presenting viewers with live interviews with jockeys, trainers, and owners at Keeneland.

Then, after the live interview (it seemed as though they spoke with Rafael Bejarano 50 times in three weeks) they would bring us the missed race on tape, obviously several minutes after the race had concluded and been declared official.

This sense of priority seemed odd, since TVG spends most of the rest of its airtime as something of a tout service, bringing its viewers betting opinions from its entire staff in the hope of us logging on and placing a wager.

Isn't racing the most important part of a broadcast? Shouldn't the interviews be taped and shown around live racing, not vice versa?

Frank Heaverat
Coral Springs, Fla.