02/17/2006 1:00AM

Letters to the editor


Circumventing slaughter ban defies public

When Congress passed the Sweeney/Ensign amendment to the 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Bill last year, prohibiting tax funds from being used to pay U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors at horse slaughter plants, Americans cheered ("Slaughter measure passes," Sept. 23).

The purpose of the amendment was unequivocally to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption, as evidenced by comments throughout the Congressional Record. Congress listened to the American public and took an important step to save our horses.

Now, in complete disregard of the wishes of the American public and the expressed will of Congress, the department of agriculture, in violation of existing law and judicial precedent, has kowtowed to foreign interests by agreeing to implement a new regulatory scheme that allows the foreign-owned plants to pay a private fee for horse slaughter ("Slaughterhouses get fee OK," Feb. 10).

The new plan eviscerates the amendment and, in essence, slaps both Congress and the American public in the face.

Our horses are being brutally killed on American soil, only to end up on some European's dinner plate. We don't eat horses. We should not allow the USDA to thwart the will of Congress and disregard the wishes of the American public by implementing this new back-door scheme.

Donna Caplan
Sun City, Calif.

A touch of green would brighten Gulfstream

I have been to Gulfstream Park almost every winter for the past 20 years. I just returned to Chicago from this year's visit to Gulfstream and was completely disappointed with the new setting, but I, unlike most of the complainers, have a first-step solution to much of the problem.

Installing a grandstand with thousands of seats seems unrealistic. The cost would be huge. But the area to the north of the building could have all the ugly asphalt removed and replaced with a large grass area, similar to the old clubhouse lawn near the previous paddock and walking ring. Thousands of people used to be out there in the lawn chairs every weekend.

The paddock could be moved out of the dungeon it is in now and put there also.

Throw in a few trees, and I believe you could please a lot of the people who come to Gulfstream not only to bet horses every winter but to enjoy the great weather.

Tom Zangrilli
Berwyn, Ill.

Track's problems go beyond the property

Although the Gulfstream Park meet is considered a major one, in my opinion the track definitely has room for improvement. First, in the claiming races, Gulfstream purse money seems quite small compared with the claiming price of the race. Many other tracks offer almost double the purse money for the same claiming price. This leaves me to wonder if, for example, a $25,000 claimer from Gulfstream is equal to a $25,000 claimer from Aqueduct.

Second, Gulfstream does not always post the correct fractional times for the running of races. For last Saturday's Grade 3 Appleton Handicap on turf, the chart shows only the final time of 1:32.80 for the one-mile race. This is ridiculous! Every good handicapper wants to know how the race was run, so accurate fractional times are imperative unless handicapping is to be reduced to a joke.

Gulfstream should be reminded that Hialeah often did not provide fractional times for its route races, and now it is out of business.

George Niiranen

Keep the Derby a tradition like no other

The news that the Kentucky Derby will now be referred to as "The Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands" would make the man who made the Derby America's signal horse race, Colonel Matt Winn, turn in his grave (Kentucky Derby adds sponsor to race name," Feb. 3).

Hasn't the image of the so-called sport of kings suffered enough? Can't you just imagine what the folks at Augusta National would say about a Yum! Masters?

Robin Dawson

Martin has the credentials for inclusion on Hall ballot

Here we go again. The cerebral Hall of Fame nomination committee has issued a list of possible trainers to be inducted into the Hall of Fame ("Hall nominees named in new ballot method," Feb. 15). I realize that people might think that I'm trying to pick on the committee every time the list comes out. But as a fan of the game, and not just a horseman, I must once again voice my opinion.

Where is Jose Martin on this list? If you stack up his numbers against most of the names on that list, I'm sure you will see that his are much better. He has won many stakes, been around a lot longer than a lot of the others, and trained at least three champions. I just wish the people who really know the game made the lists of the people and horses who should be nominated for induction into the Hall of Fame.

Anthony A. Stabile
Howard Beach. N.Y.

In-home race access deceptively close

Here are the facts:

1. I live in New Jersey, eight miles from New York City - the media capital of the world.

2. I live in a condo and by rule cannot have a satellite dish (I had one but had to take it down). Therefore, I am unable to get Television Games Network or HorseRacing TV.

3. My friend lives in suburban Michigan and has a satellite dish, therefore he can get TVG and HRTV.

4. I have Comcast cable, which carries TVG, but only in certain locations in suburban Maryland and Pennsylvania.

5. I try to watch the races on my computer but have grown weary of watching the picture freeze just as my horse is fading into fourth.

Conclusion: If I relocate to suburban Michigan or Maryland, I have an excellent chance of being able to see racing via either satellite or cable. If, however, I remain close to the entertainment, media, communication, financial, sports, Internet, and advertising capital of the world, I have no chance of seeing the races at home.

Only in racing.

Fred Ward
Secaucus, N.J.