12/16/2005 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor


Calder package a good model for Monmouth

The American Graded Stakes Committee's recent Grade 1 designation for Calder's Princess Rooney Handicap ("Committee upgrades 23 stakes for 2006," Dec. 4) should be a wake-up call for Monmouth Park management.

Monmouth's past approach of spreading its important races over many weekends no longer works in today's Thoroughbred racing marketplace. Calder's packaging of its Summit of Speed has amazingly turned the racing world's attention to south Florida in the middle of July. Monmouth's races, other than the Haskell (thanks to some well-placed trainer incentives), have languished in relative obscurity and have not yielded meaningful increases in attendance or handle. Fields for these races are often short. Calder management accomplished what it did through imagination, foresight, and guts, traits Monmouth's management has yet to demonstrate.

Monmouth's primary goal should be to be the biggest track on the East Coast on four days over the summer: Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, United Nations Day in July, Haskell Day in August, and the second Saturday in September. All of these days are "open" on the national racing calendar, and Monmouth has the opportunity to seize them as its own. Monmouth should package its most important races on those days, increase the purse money for these races to attract more and higher quality horses, and offer wagers with guaranteed pools.

The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority can look to The Meadowlands meet, which is irrelevant nationally but hosts the Meadowlands Cup and Pegasus with purses of $500,000 and $250,000, for funding. The Meadowlands should not have big-money stakes events. They are dwarfed by New York's Breeders' Cup preps, and nobody locally or nationally cares about them.

It was a very a different era when Monmouth could attract crowds with one big race on Saturday. Times are different. Today, except for the Haskell, Monmouth's big races have not had much impact on local attendance or the national scene. In the year before hosting the Breeders' Cup, it is time for management think big, go on offense, and return Monmouth to its position as the clear number-two venue in the East. If Calder can bring itself national attention in the middle of July, Monmouth certainly can.

Andy Pinto
Little Silver, N.J.

Self-realization a marketing must

Gibson Carothers, speaking at the University of Arizona's Symposium on Racing and Gaming in Tucson, said that racing has not marketed itself properly, and that racing should not sell itself as a sport but rather as a game.

Imagine that. It has taken more than 25 years, since brick and mortar started being laid in Atlantic City, for someone to realize that Thoroughbred racing is not a sport and that it was successful until the proliferation of casinos because it enjoyed a monopoly on gambling.

Wendell Corrow
Barkhamsted, Conn.