04/27/2006 11:00PM

Letters to the editor


Clocker has different view of work scenario

The April 26 article "California quartet goes to work" stated that in an April 24 workout at Santa Anita, "Brother Derek was given an official time of 1:28.40 by track clockers, who mistakenly took Brother Derek from the seven-furlong pole, even though he had just broken away from the pony, did not begin the work in earnest until the 6 1/2-furlong pole, and went out an extra sixteenth past the wire - his usual routine. Dan Hendricks, his trainer, caught the Santa Anita Derby winner in a more realistic 1:27."

Being on the official clockers staff for 29 years and presently head clocker at Santa Anita, I took offense to that article, as did my crew. This workout was timed by two members of our staff, with each getting the exact time within a couple of hundredths. As for the statement about Hendricks's normal routine of using, what we refer to as the "short pole" (6 1/2 furlongs) and working on out a sixteenth of a mile after the wire, that is not always true. This was evident if you were watching the workout or you happened to watch it on HorseRacing TV, which had taped it. I have personally watched it twice. Alex Solis, aboard Brother Derek, clearly stands up at the wire, not continuing to work out an extra sixteenth of a mile.

Hendricks has worked Brother Derek from the actual furlong pole, while specifically letting us know his intentions. This has been the case with Brother Derek in five out of the last eight workouts going back to Feb. 5. Pertaining to the April 24 seven-furlong workout, the stable pony released Brother Derek about 100 yards or so before the seven-furlong pole, and at that point Solis took him down to the rail and started the workout. This was obvious to everyone on our staff, and we were intently watching.

The "more realistic" time of 1:27 to which the article refers is not correct. If Brother Derek worked from the 6 1/2-furlong pole, he worked only 6 1/2 furlongs, being how Solis stood up in his stirrups at the wire. The workout would have been recorded as six furlongs in 1:13.20. Brother Derek went his first eighth-mile in an unusually slow 15.20 seconds under a huge hold, which might have been his trainer's intention. Adding that 15.20 to 1:13.20 gives you the official seven-furlong workout of 1:28.40.

Gary Nelson
Monrovia, Calif.

Former NYRA co-chief remembered as inspired

At the turn of the millennium, Wall Street lost one of its most cherished assets, when Peter Karches resigned from his post as president of Morgan Stanley. Wall Street's loss was the Thoroughbred industry's gain, as Karches threw much of his efforts to our business, serving as co-chairman of the New York Racing Association, a trustee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and a member of The Jockey Club.

Peter Karches died of leukemia April 13, a youthful 54, and the world has lost one of its most cherished assets.

Sadly, most people in the industry probably don't recognize the name Peter Karches, and that's exactly the way he wanted it. In eulogy, one of his closest friends said, "Peter had a gift of saying so much while saying so little." Such was the essence of the man. His impact was far-reaching, though most of the people whose lives and careers he has impacted will never know of it.

I knew Peter from our days together at Morgan Stanley. He instilled loyalty in those around him because he gave as much in return. When asked once why he continued to give his yearling Kentucky Derby prospects to Christophe Clement, a trainer widely noted to excel with turf runners, Peter said, "He's my trainer. It's not his fault his previous runners preferred the grass." Karches was a man of high principles. Nobody had more integrity than the man I proudly call a friend and mentor.

In a sport that so desperately searches for heroes, and just as desperately needs leaders, perhaps the greatest tragedy of all is that we had one in our grasp and now he is gone.

Rest in peace, dear Peter.

Anthony J. Perrotta Jr.
Colts Neck, N.J.

Put riders on notice: No more rainouts

I have been a racing fan for more than 50 years, and I have never seen two race cards canceled within three weeks because of rain in New York. This happened recently at Aqueduct, though, on April 5 and 23.

The jockeys said the track was unsafe, or should I say some of the jockeys said it was unsafe ("Passero: Nothing's wrong with the track," Aqueduct Notes, April 26). I can't say, because I do not ride horses, but I do say that the New York Racing Association should take a stand, as it does with everyone who comes to work at the track. NYRA should make a list of jockeys willing to ride on wet tracks and tell the others to stay home.

I have never seen a Triple Crown or Breeders' Cup race called off because of a sloppy track. Angel Cordero Jr. made a living following the tracks from the tractors on sloppy tracks.

The safety of the horses and jockeys should always get first priority, but if you can ride million-dollar horses in million-dollar races, you should be able to ride any time. Sloppy and muddy tracks have been part of racing for 100 years - let's keep it that way.

John Bonagura
Stewart Manor, N.Y.

At 9, Bluesthestandard has done enough

Isn't there anyone out there who has the guts to say enough is enough?

Nine-year-old Bluesthestandard was scratched from Thursday's second race at Hollywood Park - a $10,000 claiming race - because he was ill, according to his trainer. He was placed on the veterinarian's list of sick horses, ineligible to be entered for 10 days. His trainer, though, intends to put him back to work ("Hollywood Notes," April 29).

Why? If any horse has given us his all, it's "Blues." His former owners, however, sent him on his way after collecting the purses he had won for them in races in which he faced Kona Gold, among others. There is no end to greed in sports - and horse racing is no exception. I'm always trying to introduce friends to racing, but this is a turn-off for the most devoted fan.

Helen Lotos
Corona del Mar, Calif.