08/16/2001 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


In perfect world, stewards won't alter results

In his July 29 letter "To eliminate role of stewards would be folly," W. Richard Garrison's presented an elitist steward's view that the existing rules of racing "are far superior" to Dick Jerardi's suggestion in his July 20 column, "It's time to let race results stand." The letter underlined the very point Jerardi was making: The opinion of an omnipotent steward should not result in a change in the order of finish as it pertains to its effect on the public.

A change in this archaic rule would take questionable decisions out of the public (bettor's) domain. Keep the stewards, but limit their decisions to the direct participants: jockeys, trainers, and owners. The safety and integrity of the sport would not be diminished one iota if the penalties now associated with disqualifications are directed to the parties who are "in the game" and have no effect on bettors.

When Garrison suggested that horse racing would deteriorate into a Roller Derby-like spectacle, he indicted jockeys and suggested that they cannot be trusted to conduct themselves in a proper manner. When Garrison referred to other sporting events to justify the use of DQ's, he missed the mark completely. These events do not involve public wagering as their key ingredient for financial survival. (Also, I'd like to know how many Major League Baseball game results during the last century were reversed upon appeal.)

Garrison was correct when he noted "we do not live in an ideal world," but the idea that what has always been must remain so prevents us from moving forward and attempting to improve.Richard Napolitano

Valley Stream, N.Y.

TRN's approach was better than TVG's chatter

I mourn the demise of The Racing Network. I have already subscribed to Television Games Network, and the difference is disturbing. TRN was geared to the serious player, while TVG is more concerned with image - it reminds me of the racing industry in general. TRN was novel - willing to be innovative while understanding that the game is about the bettor. TVG is more traditional - as in the game is for the owner and horsemen, to heck with the player.

So long Joe, Kimber, Maven, Chuck, and others. You will be sorely missed as the talking heads at TVG miss another race. Their mindless commentary is much more important.

Chip Plowman

Tucson, Ariz.

Racing has lowly spot on telecast totem pole

Sadly, it has become routine for ESPN to delay or preempt horse racing coverage in favor of other sporting events. On Saturday, Aug. 11, live coverage of the Sword Dancer from Saratoga was delayed when a golf match ran overtime. Fortunately, the delay lasted only a few minutes, as a missed putt on the 16th hole permitted the network to conclude golf coverage and proceed with racing. The previous week, coverage of the Jim Dandy was abbreviated because of an amateur golf event that ran long. On each of the past two Wednesdays, ESPN's "Racehorse Digest" has been delayed because of tennis.

On Sunday, Aug. 12, viewers of "2Day at the Races" waited 23 tortuous minutes for the final 1 minute and 30 seconds of an arena football game to click to an end. "2Day" was left with racing air time of only seven minutes (including commercials), necessitating abbreviated coverage to show just one race, the West Virginia Derby, run the previous night. Then, in order to proceed with Little League coverage, ESPN informed racing fans the entire half-hour show would air at midnight Central time.

I waited patiently all evening to watch the tape delay of the turf race from Saratoga. Insultingly, at midnight, ESPN showed boat racing instead. I have no idea when, if ever, "2Day at the Races" aired.

Is it any wonder why horse racing's fan base doesn't increase, with this network installing racing in a pecking order beneath amateur golf, arena football, boating, and Little League?

Thomas K. Roever

Naperville, Ill.

Scorpion's Jim Dandy not so mysterious

In reply to Joe Cardello's column about Scorpion's "hard to explain" leap forward in the Jim Dandy (Aug. 10), I hope I can offer another handicapping view. Handicappers put too much faith in Beyer Speed Figures. From a pace-handicapping point of view, Congaree was beatable, and poor A. P. Valentine is worn to a frazzle. If you would have noticed, Scorpion ran very well last year at Saratoga, then had some problems during the ensuing year. The key to his win in the Jim Dandy was the impressive manner and time in which he won a six-furlong tightener a month earlier. To me, that was the indicator he was finally fit enough to run the best race of his life.

Some old racing phrases stand true: Properly fit and properly placed. Pace makes the race. So lets give Scorpion's trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, credit where credit is due.

Linda Riggio

Belleair Beach, Fla.

All of racing should mourn Burke

Thoroughbred racing in general, and California racing in particular, have suffered a monumental loss with the sudden and untimely passing of Gary Burke, chairman of the board of the Thoroughbred Owners of California (Aug. 10).

We on the TOC Board and those who interacted with him in Thoroughbred racing are aware that there are very few who spent as much time promoting, attending committees, and trying to bring our industry together in the last three or four years as Gary Burke.

When I think of Gary, I remember the phrase uttered by Rodney King (an unlikely source of wisdom) when he said, "Can't we all just get along?" Gary was persistently optimistic, never giving up on his attempts to bring all sides together and help them work in harmony to get meaningful and positive goals accomplished for the Thoroughbred industry.

I can only hope that Thoroughbred owners in California realize what a truly great advocate of the sport Gary Burke was. This quintessential nice guy selflessly donated the last years of his life trying to better racing in California. We all owe him a huge debt of gratitude and we will miss him greatly.

Ron Charles

Shadow Hills, Calif.

Snyder's absence from Hall called into question

I am sure Earlie Fires is deserving of induction to racing's Hall of Fame. To ride nearly 6,200 winners is an enormous achievement. Many of those wins early on were in Kentucky, which I am sure didn't hurt his case with the selection committee. I cannot help wonder, however, why Larry Snyder has not been honored as well. Snyder retired in 1994 as the sixth all-time leading rider of winners with 6,388. When he started riding in 1960 the number of racing opportunities were not anything like they are today, with the proliferation of dates and the advent of night racing. I believe he is still ranked in the top 10, and yet he continues to be passed over year after year.

Today, Larry serves very capably as a steward at Oaklawn Park, where he rode many of those 6,388 winners. He was, and continues to be, an example of all the things we wish for in racing. Honesty, integrity, passion for the sport, just to name a few. His exemplary character was recognized in 1988 when he was the recipient of the George Woolf award. So as I cheer Julie Krone, Earlie Fires, and others as they gain their place in the Hall of Fame, once again, I am left wondering. What did Larry Snyder do wrong, or what did he not do right?

Ted Mudge