03/31/2006 12:00AM

Letters to the editor

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Potential buyer more than wary of sale tactics

I am a 45-year-old retired Wall Street trader who is considering entering the Thoroughbred racing arena. I have wanted to own racehorses all my life, but until my recent retirement, I did not have the time nor resources to pursue the game with the vigor I believe it requires. On the surface, I would appear to be the prototypical "new money" the sport craves: young, affluent, and possessing an appetite for risk.

I have followed both the Satish Sanan and Jess Jackson "sales ethics" sagas with much interest. What troubles me is the industry's leadership turning a blind eye to what seem to be blatant violations of clients' trust and the inexplicable lack of leadership put forth by the industry's greatest beneficiary - the sales companies.

From my perspective, the 2-year-old in training sales are the venues most likely to foster egregious manipulation of prices. As a prospective owner, I often ask myself a number of questions when considering making the investment.

1. Why are the same agents always buying the most expensive horses?

2. Why does it seem that every year, a different 2-year-old consignor (or pinhooker) seems to benefit from the efforts of these agents, as if there is a coordinated effort to "share the wealth?"

3. Why do Ocala pinhooker purchases typically bring the largest gains at 2-year-old auctions - after all, there are plenty of private pinhooks in these sales?

4. Why do sales companies promote "covert" bidding? Shouldn't all bidders be forced to use identifying placards such as the ones utilized by the auction houses Sotheby's, Christie's, and Barrett-Jackson?

These questions are the driving factor that keep me, and others like me, away from this game. In the end, just the perception is a crime, because it keeps us from pursuing our dreams.

Matt Zebriski
Rumson, N.J.

Campaign laid out for Godolphin colt

Discreet Cat is the first horse since Easy Goer to show the promise that may one day allow him to be mentioned in the same sentence as Secretariat. His race in Dubai, in which he stalked a hot pace while racing well out from the rail only to draw off under a hand ride, was nothing short of sensational ("Discreet Cat lives up to the hype," March 27). The fact that he beat seven horses considered 4-year-olds in the United States, in late March, is phenomenal.

And this by a horse making his third start. He is everything that the Coolmore outfit hopes it has in their new $16 million colt ("$16 million for Forestry colt," March 2).

But after training him hard to win in Dubai, it would border on animal cruelty to ask him to ship and try the Kentucky Derby. Yes, the temptation is hard to resist. Victory in America's premiere race is a much-coveted jewel. But even though Discreet Cat might crush this year's subpar crop in the Derby, he might emerge a mere shell of the horse he could have become. For once the horse should be put first.

I say pass on the Kentucky Derby, and any talk of the Preakness should stop also. Discreet Cat should be brought over to the States, acclimated, and trained for the either the Metropolitan Handicap or the Peter Pan as a prep for the Belmont. He could win both of those races because of his ability to fire off his training and his superior talent. Rested again, he goes in the Travers. Next stop, the Woodward Stakes, and the cherry on top, the Breeders' Cup Classic.

I foresee Discreet Cat's elevation into the echelons of Secretariat and perhaps Man o' War if his campaign is mapped properly. Immortality awaits Discreet Cat because of his enormous talent. Let's hope human ignorance and greed don't mess it up.

Anthony Burdi
Sacramento, Calif.

He says a little prayer for no more politics

As a dedicated reader of Daily Racing Form, I was appalled by Jay Hovdey's March 25 column about Burt Bacharach, "A focus on what it's all about." To allow this periodical to be a platform for such left-wing liberal views was a travesty.

I found myself actually rooting against Bacharach's horse purely because of DRF's inability to censor politics from ponies.

Might as well go buy the New York Times from now on.

Todd J. Stinson
Lincoln, Neb.

ESPN giving sport minor-league status

I would like to express my extreme disappointment and concern over the horse racing "coverage" ESPN has presented thus far for Kentucky Derby prep races. ESPN promoted these races as "live," yet broadcasts to date have been partially preempted for other sporting events.

If this is any indication of the importance ESPN places on horse racing, then it was a sad day indeed when it was awarded the coverage.

More than ever, I am increasingly concerned that ESPN now has broadcasting rights to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. What, if any, assurances will ESPN provide to racing fans that this major event will not be preempted or delayed by some other sporting event? ESPN is doing a disservice to a multimillion-dollar industry, regulating it to second-string status in programming.

Maryl Aldrich
Lincoln, Calif.

Even curling coverage might spell trouble

Horse racing on ESPN has been cut short because of college wrestling, exhibition baseball, Little League, and hockey. The most recent snub was March 25, when tennis ran long and cut into coverage of the Lane's End at Turfway Park.

What's next, synchronized swimming?

Joe Edwards
Nashville, Tenn.

Baze fan can't tolerate disrespect of top rider

Russell Baze has been the country's leading jockey both in wins and winning percentage too many times to keep track and will soon be the leading rider of all time, yet he never receives the accolades he deserves.

Baze gives 110 percent on every horse he rides. Stakes race or claimer, he always positions his mounts to win. He doesn't get killed in speed duels or get suckered in slow-pace races. People say it's because he gets the best horses, and that's true, because he is the best rider.

Critics dismiss him because he rides in the Bay Area exclusively. Well, thousands of riders have ridden at smaller venues and have never come close to matching Baze's success. It's time to give this Hall of Fame rider his due praise.

Gary Peasley
Pacific Grove, Calif.