02/03/2006 12:00AM

Letters to the editor

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Gill gets his due after he heads for the door

Michael Gill finally got what he deserved: the Eclipse Award as champion owner. But, to racing's loss, he is selling and winding down his stock.

Here is what I know about Mike Gill:

1. In the last three years he invested many millions of dollars in this industry at the sales and in his claims.

2. His less-discernable value to veterinarians, farmers, trainers, grooms, breeders, sellers, racing secretaries, the betting public, etc. was so great, the numbers are off the chart.

3. His competitive spirit is incredibly intense - he goes into battle to win 7-zip, not 4-3.

4. He thinks both inside and outside of the box. It is difficult to match his innovation and his analytical insights.

5. He had nothing given to him, in his business or in racing. He has had to claw his way to the top the old-fashioned way.

6. When he enters a contest, he is totally committed. Monday at 11 p.m., he is on the phone planning Tuesday.

7. He never asked for favors, just equal treatment. What other owner ever had to reveal his trade secrets - such as an operation on a horse's throat - to his competitors because of his success?

I do not want to deify his strengths, but all too often Mike Gill has been an easy target for those who feared his aggressive and, sometimes, less-than-diplomatic style, to the point of his being barred by premier tracks (by racing secretaries refusing him stalls).

He became a popular man to dislike, which eventually took its toll.

Mike Gill brought fun and excitement to racing. His passion for the sport was genuine, and he invested millions as a result.

The Eclipse is an honor he will cherish, rest assured. But, for the benefit of racing, it may have come too late.

Bill Shuman
Pembroke Pines, Fla.

New Yorker wary of Saratoga takeover

I fervently pray that Magna Entertainment Corp. never gets its icy, manipulative hands on New York racing. While I have been spared the personal misfortune of visiting the newly destroyed Gulfstream Park, I will take the word of Andrew Beyer's Jan. 18 column, "The $171 million question," and at least one subsequent disgruntled letter writer to Daily Racing Form that Frank Stronach and his minions have done everything possible to turn this once-fan-friendly Florida racing venue into a nightmare.

Magna's testimony before the Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of Racing in Albany, N.Y., on Jan. 24 clearly indicated that Magna, if allowed to head New York racing, would work tirelessly to rob Saratoga Race Course of its fabled charm, turning the jewel of American racing into a squalid, year-round Vegas-style sports book and nightclub. ("Fate of N.Y. racing up in air," Jan 29.)

New York racing has taken enough shots to the head in the past several years. It doesn't need a coup de grace in the frightening form of Frank Stronach.

Sam Ludu
Wilton, N.Y.

Derby future bet defies one fan's logic

In regard to the Feb. 1 article "Field has familiar place as early public choice," about the Kentucky Derby Future Wager: To me, it seems like one of the dumbest bets on the planet, especially Pool 1.

The first big question mark is whether your horse even makes it to the Derby. Injury or lack of earnings can take care of that. Then, of course, is the fact that the odds on your horse on Derby Day might be as good or better than what you will get in the future pool - especially if your choice is coming off a hot allowance or prep win just before a future pool closes. In future bets in pretty much all other sports, you are compensated for a bold early prediction. In this bet it seems making the prediction likely costs one money.

I would love to see an analysis of past Derby futures pools, to see if there is ever any value at all in it. I am all for bringing horse racing to the betting public in any way possible - and I am the target demographic for the new generation (male, age 34). But as a horseplayer, this bet seems just plain dumb to me - and I'm wondering if perhaps I am fully off the mark, or if my gut is correct.

Lyle Deitch
New York City

Clocker leaves memories of many a fine time

Over the last eight years, I had the privilege and pleasure of working with Marty Katz. Before we started working together, Marty worked for the Daily Racing Form as a clocker for many years. Early last Sunday, Marty passed away suddenly, leaving behind a wife and two daughters (Aqueduct Notes, Feb. 1). He also left a legacy of many friends and wonderful memories.

Marty was highly skilled at his clocking profession and was respected by everyone who knew him. But most of all, he was a devoted husband, a loving father, and a faithful friend.

The mornings at Belmont and Saratoga will never be the same without him. He will always be in my heart, and the memories of our time together will live forever.

Joe Petrucione
Fort Lee, N.J.

Home improvement can extend to racing video

I couldn't help reading Andrew Beyer's Jan. 27 column, "Online video: racing's new era," with a certain amount of interest and humor. Beyer is correct - the video quality has seen improvement in the five-plus years I have had an online account, though it could use a little more to reach a level everyone is happy with. I would like to add, however, that cheap tools are readily available for anyone wishing to improve his or her online experience.

First, for $15 one can buy a connector and cable to hook the sound to a home stereo system. Second, there are video cards available for around $50 to connect a computer directly to a home television set, or (as I have done) a race fan can find a used surplus 21-inch computer monitor for under $100.

Now, instead of enlarging the video and blurring it, the video can be kept as-is, and seen as I do, in a box with a 26-inch diagonal. I have been watching and wagering this way for two years now, and the only complaint I have is that the wager box for entering my bets is just a little too small. It strains my eyes selecting my wagers from 15 feet away with my laser mouse!

Steve Sorensen
Waverly, N.Y.