01/15/2010 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor

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Nothing replaces the human touch for sport's lovers

I read the Jan. 9 DRF Weekend article "Brick-and-mortar sites face uncertainty" with anger.

I am a horseplayer who has experienced cigar smoke from Bowie to Santa Anita, and Narragansett Park to Sam Houston and many in between (yay, South Hills, Va., OTB!). And what I love most is that whenever you walk into one of these places, you instantly have friends who have known you a lifetime. I am a true degenerate and proud of it (albeit with a doctorate in veterinary medicine and 39 years in practice) and nowhere else would I find this camaraderie.

Offtrack betting parlors also get you out - of the house. Staying in and betting on the computer all day, as I've been forced to do lately in order to play Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park, and Fair Grounds, is painful and gives you cabin fever.

Like many regular horseplayers, I enjoy quite a few meals on the OTB premises. I wonder how many waiters and waitresses across the country will ultimately lose their jobs, or have already, thanks to these recent developments.

These goofballs at Magna Entertainment Corp. and Churchill Downs Inc. think their chatrooms will replace all this. I have my doubts. After all, who from a chatroom is going to go to our funerals?

Frank Thomson - Lancaster, Pa.

Signal disputes put greed foremost

I spent several weeks and a bit of money (on charts, trainer profiles, etc.) in preparation for this year's Gulfstream Park racing meet, only to be betrayed once again by the racing community.

Since I live in New Jersey, I can't join TVG or XPressBet and am limited to New Jersey's state-run account wagering operation, which is not carrying Gulfstream. It's obvious that the culprit is the greed of the owners of Gulfstream and other tracks, such as Fair Grounds - the simulcast-marketing collaboration between Magna Entertainment Corp. and Churchill Downs Inc. - who couldn't care less about the horseplayer. It would be nice if horseplayers got together and no one bet any of their tracks.

In addition, why do some states forbid us from joining TVG or XpressBet, which are so superior to our state-owned wagering sites? It all comes down to grabbing money and damn the horseplayer. And the racing community wonders why the sport is dying.

Gerald Calderone - Lakewood, N.J.

Shut-out fan sees slots sharing blame

I am an avid horseplayer who visits both betting parlors and live tracks in the Philadelphia area almost every weekend, spending on average six to eight hours per visit. I am very displeased about the ongoing disputes over simulcast signals (as related in the Jan. 3 article "Dispute blocks Gulfstream signal," for instance), especially because the majority of tracks that I love to wager are unavailable to me at this point.

I also wonder how quickly this dispute would have been settled had these Mid-Atlantic tracks not had the slot parlors. I feel that since the opening of these slot-machine-crazed facilities, we the horseplayers have been forgotten.

I read the Jan 6 article "Gulfstream opener handle drops," but I would like to know how this has affected the offtrack betting facilities and and racetracks who aren't taking the signals. I know it must affect them also, but with slots in place, the tracks at least will survive, even without true regard for bettors.

Augie Tarmin - Sanatoga, Pa.