03/10/2006 1:00AM

Letters to the editor


Counsel asserts fraud case has two sides

The racing media has been inundated with reports of the Jess Jackson crusade to rid the industry of predators and fraud ("Jackson in settlement talks," Feb. 20). As the former chair of the California Horse Racing Board, I am in accord with the premise that some bloodstock agents and trainers have driven away participants by their egregious behavior.

I was contacted by Brad Martin, one of the defendants in the Jackson vs. Headley, Narvick (DeSeroux), and Martin case, to represent him. I was reticent due to the adverse published allegations. Before assuming his representation, I did significant due diligence into the allegations and the facts regarding their relationship. My conclusion was that only one side of the story has been publicized.

A key issue is whether or not the Narvick/ DeSeroux/Martin group received their negotiated fees. Thankfully, the American system allows litigation to be decided in the courtroom and not in the media or by those who have the ulterior motive to gain from the disparagement of others. Hopefully, the media and the racing public will delay deifying Mr. Jackson and crucifying the defendants until a jury makes a decision.

Roger H. Licht
Beverly Hills, Calif.

Synthetic surfaces not natural to all horses

If all U.S. Thoroughbred tracks eventually switch to synthetic racing surfaces, what happens to horses who don't handle those surfaces? (See "California board urges Polytrack," Feb. 18.)

Take Lawyer Ron, for example. He is 5 for 5 on dirt tracks and 0 for 2 on Polytrack. If he had never gotten the chance to run on traditional dirt racing surfaces, then he probably never would have had the chance to be on the Kentucky Derby trail. The California Horse Racing Board needs to take this into consideration before requiring all major Thoroughbred tracks in California to install synthetic tracks.

Timothy DeTillio
Newmarket, N.H.

Callous attitude shows its own bias

Andrew Beyer's Feb. 25 column, "Diet of all Polytrack awfully bland," regarding the new synthetic racing surfaces, was shocking.

Instead of praising a new racetrack surface that would be more beneficial for the horses, Beyer is worried about losing a track bias that he believes gives him an edge, which correlates into making a buck at the expense of jockeys' lives, not to mention the horses. Shameful.

Steve Milius
Sacramento, Calif.

Must safety be sacrificed on altar of profits?

Is Andrew Beyer's only concern the almighty dollar? It was so sad to see such a lack of morals, ethics, and compassion in his Feb. 25 column about synthetic surfaces for racetracks. It was filled with selfishness and greed. It sounded as if he were saying to hell with the lives of jockeys, exercise riders, and horses - he wants racetrack surfaces with a bias so that he can have an edge and cash bets. He wouldn't want to disturb the status quo with anything that might be a boon to the safety and well-being of the personnel and horses at the racetracks.

Pam Hilinski

Fountain of Youth DQ had broken chain of logic

I watched as Corinthian was taken down in the Fountain of Youth and placed third, behind Flashy Bull ("Assist gives chalk sweep - First Samurai moved up to first," March 6). As Corinthian didn't interfere directly with Flashy Bull, I can only assume that the Gulfstream Park stewards' reasoning was: Had Corinthian not borne out, then Flashy Bull, finishing only a neck behind First Samurai, would have stood a good chance to catch First Samurai, thereby reversing their order of finish by finishing second under the wire. Okay.

There was, however, a battle for fourth place that was also affected by Corinthian's right turn. My Golden Song and Rehoboth were both carried out four or five paths towards the grandstand. In that battle for fourth placing, My Golden Song beat Rehoboth by only a head, so it is even more conceivable that Rehoboth could have caught My Golden Song than that Flashy Bull would catch First Samurai, as Rehoboth had slightly less territory - a head versus a neck - to make up.

So: Why wasn't Corinthian placed fifth, behind Rehoboth, instead of third, behind Flashy Bull?

I can hear the snickers and someone saying, "Man, 100-1 says that guy had a superfecta with Rehoboth fourth." And that snicker would be absolutely right. But that's just the point. As long as "vertical" bets within a race are taken, not only the owners, but the players also must be respected in the stewards' decisions.

So listen up, all you good stewards out there. If you're going to use a particular line of reasoning, fine, but please follow that line to its logical end.

Richard Helfman
New York City

Wall of video in stretch bound to spook horses

Corinthian veered across the track in the Fountain of Youth because of the drive-in size video monitor in the Gulfstream Park infield. The horse saw a 20-foot version of himself running at him.

The incident brought to mind the 2003 Arlington Million, when Gary Stevens was dumped by Storming Home, who was taken down from first place to fourth because of his outward lunge ("Stevens hurt at wire in Million," Aug. 18, 2003). I contend the horse's action was prompted by the giant image on the infield monitor.

These boards should be turned off when horses come down the stretch. At least in the Fountain of Youth incident, thank goodness, no human or animal was hurt.

Rob Knoop

Beau's Town connections did best by gelding

The owner of Arkansas-bred Beau's Town, Dave Hulkewicz, and his trainer, Cole Norman, should be applauded. Retiring the strapping chestnut gelding at the top of his game, after winning a stakes at his home track, showed class and compassion.

Beau's Town's career will be a great memory for years to come because he always ran with such heart. Hopefully a stakes race will bear his name some day. The fact he will get to live out his days with Norman and his family is just icing on the cake.

Gary Woodall
Bismarck, Ark.