02/10/2006 12:00AM

Letters to the editor

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Chairman clears up actions of Calif. board

Regarding concerns raised by Mr. Kenneth Steele in the Jan. 29 letter to the Racing Form ("California board vote thumbs nose at race fans") and by others, I wish to clarify that the actions we took at the Jan. 16 meeting of the California Horse Racing Board did not dilute or in any way diminish our oversight powers.

In addressing the matter of heightened security in the stable area, we simply deferred a decision in order to allow our attorney to weigh in on the technical aspects of the language that was being considered. We already have extensive authority to conduct surveillance and to take other security measures in restricted areas, and we want to be certain that the language of any new rule would protect the rights we now have. The board, as the guardian of the sport and the public trust, will take all means necessary, at all times, to protect the integrity of the sport and the wagering public.

With respect to the action taken regarding the uncoupling of horses owned by the same entity, the board simply approved language for public notice of a proposed rule change that would eliminate such couplings. No definitive action was taken with respect to any rule change. The board always places any proposed rule change out for a public comment period of no less than 45 days, during which time the board receives comments, opinions, and suggested language changes for the proposed rule or amendment. Furthermore, following the public comment period, the board conducts a public hearing on the proposal, during which interested parties can voice their opinions to the racing commissioners. Agendas for board meetings are posted 10 days beforehand on the racing board's Web site: www.chrb.ca.gov. Only after deliberation and the comment period can the entire board act upon any rule change positively or negatively.

Richard B. Shapiro, Chairman
California Horse Racing Board

Gulfstream provides few incentives, fewer seats

Never in my wildest dreams did I think Gulfstream Park - a winter racing paradise - could be destroyed. One letter to the Racing Form noted that Gulfstream is "not a racetrack - it's a casino that happens to stage live horse racing." ("Gulfstream's makeover proves a letdown," Jan. 29) The most legitimate complaint is the lack of enough outdoor seating at the new Gulfstream.

I planned to sit, during my retirement, in reasonably priced seats to watch racing in the abundant sunshine of south Florida during the winter. I can stay in Chicago while my butt freezes to watch and bet simulcast races in an individual offtrack betting carrel for free. One can get virtually the same thing in Las Vegas for no charge, so why would a racing consumer pay up to $40 for the same privilege at Gulfstream, as patrons did on Sunshine Millions day?

Two things need to happen, and quickly. First, Gulfstream's owner, Magna Entertainment Corp., must address directly how it will handle large crowds with fairly priced outdoor seating for its fans. Second, Florida's Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering must proactively require Gulfstream to provide these needed extra seats for the fans by a specific date. If Gulfstream does not respond promptly, give the dates to Calder or reopen Hialeah.

Jim Lentz
Wheaton, Ill.

Matz's story an uplifting one

A very dreary day in my town changed for the better when I read Andrew Beyer's Feb. 3 column, "For Matz, a good kind of pressure," about Michael Matz and Barbaro. I found the story to be a poignant testimonial to a quiet hero. It was an amazing story about courage, humility, and bravery that I found inspiring. My thanks to Beyer for making an otherwise dismal day one I'll never forget.

John B. Pohl
Glens Falls, N.Y.

Updating wager pools not too much to ask

What is to be made of the way simulcast money from other tracks and offtrack money from casinos and other establishments comes into the tracks? I am talking about the smaller tracks, such as Beulah Park, Thistledown, Northfield, Philadelphia Park, Dover Downs, and Tampa Bay. Until about two or three minutes to post there is a relatively insignificant amount in the win pools and not all that much more in exacta pools, and then just before post time there is an influx of money - $12,000 to $15,000 in the win pools, another $14,000 in the exacta pools. You have no idea what your payoff is going to be. A horse may be 4-1 with two minutes to post time and then when the race is off he is 7-5.

Why is the money held up till the last second? Why is it not released as it comes in? Surely with all the technology available something can be done. Why should I bet on something that the tote board says will pay $10, only to find out later that it pays $4? This happens race after race. This is a reason that horse racing faces extinction in the United States.

Angelo M. Lanzone
Sabina, Ohio

A string of bad luck, to say the least

In the last six months or so, we have witnessed severe hurricane damage to Fair Grounds wreaking havoc with an entire meet, as well as major damage to Delta Downs, necessitating a shift to Evangeline Downs. In addition, Calder was damaged by storms, and The Meadowlands had rainfall so heavy it lost all or part of seven live race cards. Ellis Park had major tornado damage. Hollywood Park can't grow grass. And now the latest: the equine herpesvirus is creating havoc with entries and shippers throughout West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

Has there ever been such a stretch of luck this bad in such a short time frame?

Rick Higgins
Columbus, Ohio