01/20/2006 12:00AM

Letters to the editor

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New Gulfstream tosses race fans from their Eden

Once again Andrew Beyer has hit the nail on the head, this time with his Jan. 18 column, "The $171 million question." His first sentence said it all: "For decades, Gulfstream Park has been one of the most pleasant racetracks on earth."

The destruction of Gulfstream Park and the resulting $171 million dollar debacle is an absolute travesty. Destroying the matchless ambience of Gulfstream is inexcusable. The track's owner, Magna Entertainment Corp., very simply could have built its racino/simulcast theater/restaurant complex anywhere on the property. Why, then, did it have to ruin the racetrack part of the facility? There was and still is plenty of unused space.

One could go on and on about what was lost, but who in his right mind would design a racetrack in a sensational climate and setting in which it is extremely challenging to get a glimpse of the horses from almost anywhere outside? I really have to tip my hat to the mastermind who decided the horses would be saddled in a private, unviewable tunnel that only owners, trainers, and grooms would have access to. I could go on and on. (For instance, you have to love those 900 seats outside to view the races. That should be really popular on Florida Derby Day. Where the other 29,000 of us are going to sit, I'm not quite sure.)

I have been going to Gulfstream Park the past 26 winters, and not in my wildest dreams did I have any clue that this winter racing paradise could be destroyed.

Tell me this is all a bad dream.

Dave Lengel
Wernersville, Pa.

Racing needs therapy when it comes to coupling

What on earth is happening in racing?

Instead of coupling entries, nowadays a trainer can run a bunch of horses in a race and not have them run as a entry, or even run four in a stakes race. California looks to be the latest jurisdiction to expand this policy ("CHRB votes to eliminate the coupling of entries," Jan. 21).

Now, if tracks don't have enough horses on the grounds, maybe they ought to put a padlock on the front door instead of letting the trainers run horse racing. Here in Chicago, trainers are always running two horses uncoupled, and that just shows me that the name of the game is quantity, not quality. Most of the trainers here are average at best. Year after year an elite group of horsemen on the Illinois circuit gets the job done while others get a small piece. There are still others with a trainer's license who are 0 for 5 (that's in years, not races) whose horses come on the track looking in need of a meal.

I urge track owners, racing officials, and racing boards to do something about allowing multiple entries with no need to couple. And while they are at it, why not dictate, as is done with horses, if you have not won in X amount of years, you can't get your trainer's license renewed? Maybe, just maybe, racing will come back somewhat.

Creighton Schoenfeldt
Chicago