12/02/2005 1:00AM

Letters to the Editor


Retirement of Sweet Catomine told by her vets

In response to Mike Watchmaker's Nov. 16 column, "The mighty who fell in 2005," in which he wrote that "Sweet Catomine's connections . . . in a move not unlike taking their ball and going home, retired their filly," we would like to set the record straight as to the events that led to the retirement of Sweet Catomine, owned by Marty and Pam Wygod, following the 2005 Santa Anita Derby.

Following Sweet Catomine's fifth-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby, a subtle problem was recognized. A clinical examination, computerized radiography, and nuclear scintigraphy were performed by several equine practitioners, including ourselves. It was determined that Sweet Catomine sustained an injury to the third carpal bone of the right forelimb. Although relatively minor, continued training would have been a significant risk. Time off was warranted. Arthroscopy would be indicated to provide an accurate prognosis for her return to the races.

As soon as the Wygods were informed of the potential risks associated with her continued training, they immediately decided to retire Sweet Catomine. It was the intent of the Wygods from the onset that Sweet Catomine's welfare must always come first.

In this time of so many champions retiring "too soon," nothing should be taken away from the accomplishments of this remarkable filly. In large part, because of the advances of modern veterinary medicine and the sportsmanship of owners such as Marty and Pam Wygod, horse racing will continue to flourish. One thing we must remember is that the horse must always come first.

Jeff A. Blea, D.V.M.
C. Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc, Ph.D., FRCVS

Racing's bad beats no lock to even out

The first three Daily Racing Form poker columns correctly stressed exercising prudence after a bad beat, but Peter Thomas Fornatale's Nov. 25 "Good advice on bad beats" wrongly argued that bad beats are worse in poker than in horse racing - allegedly, racing's bad beats result from poor betting or are offset by winners.

In Andrew Beyer's book "The Winning Horseplayer," Beyer recounted a massive bad beat suffered in the Dominican Republic amid gunfire during a presidential election in a case free of poor betting. Losing a lottery-ticket-sized victory through such a bad beat is not likely to be counterbalanced. The extreme circumstances of both the bad beat and the counterbalancing victory necessary for a wash are not likely to occur in a lifetime of horseplaying.

Fornatale's bad-beat examples in poker are the product of mathematics, and they should be expected in the long run. In both racing and poker, 100-1 shots do come in, and should be expected to. That it might occur in the World Series of Poker does not change anything. With a 52-card deck, poker is largely mathematical. Any bad beat is simply a matter of the structure of the game. In horse racing, horseplayers need to deal with a lot of stuff that should never happen, but does.

Jonathan Socolow