12/30/2005 12:00AM

Letters to the editor

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Expanding Los Al? Here's another idea

The proposal described in the Dec. 9 article "Racing Toward Thoroughbreds," by Steve Andersen, to replace live Thoroughbred racing at Hollywood Park by sharing resources at an expanded Quarter Horse facility at Los Alamitos, appears to ignore current industry trends.

Decreasing ontrack attendance, combined with increasing simulcast handle, suggests that fewer live-racing venues will be needed. As race-viewing moved from grandstand seats to in-home easy chairs, and high-definition televisions replaced binoculars, fan preference for betting on stakes-quality events at the best-known tracks directed the largest shares of offtrack handle to Saratoga, Belmont, Churchill Downs, Del Mar, Keeneland, Santa Anita, Gulfstream, and Arlington. If and when Internet wagering is fully legalized, these tracks could form a cooperative online wager brokerage that would deliver an equal share of the takeout to each active simulcast source.

Ideally, this cooperative would also optimize (minimize?) takeout to generate maximum handle. But it could also create an entertainment-oriented "Players Club" of nationwide account-holders designed to create new fans through increased exposure, awareness, and participation. A "Saturday Best Six" pool - comprising the six highest-purse events that day among participating venues - restricted to club members might achieve that objective.

Increased offtrack handle has yet to compensate for ontrack losses to other forms of gambling. The Player's Club approach just might bring back those casual horseplayers who decided they couldn't or wouldn't compete with rebated professionals.

Steve Abelove
Lawndale, Calif.

Impact of drugs in 2005 too large to ignore

Is Jay Privman kidding me? In his "Silver linings to stormy season" (Dec. 30), he fails to make mention once of the problem of illegal drugs that pervaded the sport this year.

Privman takes time to applaud Saint Liam's "breathtaking" Grade 1 victories, but fails to note the horse is trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., who was suspended just months earlier when two of his horses tested positive for banned substances.

Privman gloats about trainer Todd Pletcher's earnings record, but not about the recent upholding of his 45-day suspension.

And where was the mention of the story that made major national headlines, when trainer Greg Martin was charged in January with a Mafia-linked race-fixing scheme at Aqueduct?

Sometimes, there are no silver linings to find. I hope next year at this time Privman is writing how, in 2006, Daily Racing Form became more of a watchdog and less of a public relations machine.

Dan Kaplan
Red Bank, N.J.

Count on Beyer to have horseplayers' backs

Andrew Beyer's Dec. 22 column, "Helping bettors cash uncashed tickets," showed once more Mr. Beyer is alone when it comes to looking out for the horseplayer.

As any horseplayer can tell you, we are treated like a wet dog at a wedding, so it is nice to see one guy looking out for us. Thanks for the information, Andy.

Dom Temmallo
Turnersville, N.J.

Teach them to handicap, and they're bound to stay

In recent years, the fan base of our sport has failed to grow at a rate that will ensure future success.

Racing is unique from other sports in that, in order to be successful, its fans are required to wager into the sport. Unfortunately, racing has always marketed its product using the same techniques as other major sports. This has done nothing but draw new fans in only to have them leave after being frustrated by a lack of understanding about handicapping.

What racing needs to do is look at how it has failed and find newer, innovative ways to create new fans. Currently, tracks provide seminars and track analysts to aid the newcomer, but this eliminates those who have shown an interest but have yet to reach that level.

What will work is having track handicappers interact with the fans while the races are being run. Have it be an atmosphere where questions can be answered and angles are talked about. Encourage the new fans to make their own picks. Make it more of a day at the races, a fun place to be and meet others.

Until a fan has seen a race unfold as he handicapped it, he remains a potential fan at best.

Bruce Lallier
Conneaut Lake, Penn.

Why have a $1 pick six? Well, why not?

As a longtime racing enthusiast, I am puzzled why the major tracks in California and New York will not offer a $1 pick six, considering there are 10-cent supers, 50-cent trifectas, etc.

One of the reasons the lotteries are so popular is the bettor has a chance to win a substantial amount of money with a $1 wager. Why would the racing industry cut out this additional handle? Is the influence of syndicate bettors strong enough to keep the pick six a $2 bet?

Steve Vicera
Tampa Bay, Fla.

Multi-race bets should include the best races

I don't think I have missed many races on the New York Racing Association circuit in the past 30 years. One thing that bothers me is that whoever makes up the cards always seem to put a perfectly good race as the day's first, then leaves many later races half-empty, or with horses with only one start, to the point where it becomes a crapshoot. People who bet the pick threes, fours, and sixes with lesser money to spend are at an even greater disadvantage. It would help a little to put races with proven past performers in the multiple-race wager spots, where the bigger pools are.

Michael Coco
Utica, N.Y.