11/25/2005 1:00AM

Letters to the editor

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Exercise riders also need better insurance plan

Racetracks may once have adequately provided medical insurance for injured jockeys, as claimed by Chris Scherf, the executive vice president of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations, in the Nov. 20 article "If hearing is any indication, jockey insurance bill a longshot." I doubt it, but maybe.

I am dead sure, however, they have not adequately taken care of freelance exercise riders - who are not covered by the Jockeys' Guild, so nobody can conveniently pass the buck to that organization.

Exercise riders are on horses day after day, with a 100 percent chance of being injured during their careers and an absolute zero percent chance of receiving any meaningful assistance from the track, the trainers, or the owners.

They don't get a share of simulcast revenue. They aren't covered by insurance policies. Attempts at organization have been met with swift and severe retribution from the tracks. Is this what anyone would call adequate?

Linda Maki
Austin, Texas

Campo's recognition still overdue

As a horseman and fan of horse racing, it really troubles me that John Campo died the week before last without being in racing's Hall of Fame ("John Campo dead at 67," Nov. 17). It's a shame that some trainers who should be in the Hall of Fame have to be inducted posthumously. Campo's accomplishments are in black and white - no one can take anything away from them.

Maybe the people who are responsible for choosing Hall nominees should be subjected to a vote themselves before having that position - a vote of horsemen, not their cronies.

Anthony A. Stabile
Howard Beach, N.Y.

Purse incentives can benefit all concerned

As an owner, I know it's in my long-term best interest for field sizes to be larger, as the tracks will prosper and purses will grow.

To align the short-term interests of owners and trainers with those of the bettors and track operators might be a step as simple as varying the purse money by field size. An entry-level allowance race at Churchill with a standard purse of $50,000 might be bumped to, say, $60,000 for a 10-horse field and $75,000 for a 12-horse field.

At first glance, this looks like a lot of additional purse money to be doled out by the tracks, but if the improvement in handle for the larger fields is anything like Steven Crist described for Churchill Downs in his Nov. 13 column, "Big fields make handle explode," it will end up being pocket change. Then owners and trainers would have to think twice before looking at the shorter fields as being in their best interests, even in the short term.

Bernie Schaeffer
Cincinnati