07/21/2006 12:00AM

Letters to the editor


Racing takes false step in wider adoption of man-made surfaces

I have been reading the various news articles about the installation of Polytrack and other synthetic racing surfaces, developed primarily as winter racing surfaces so that tracks would lose fewer racing days. The fact that there were fewer accidents with horses was just a by-product of the design.

Polytrack was installed at Turfway Park and now is being installed at Keeneland and Woodbine, with Hollywood Park soon to follow with Cushion Track. Times on artificial surfaces cannot be compared with those on true dirt surfaces. Polytrack actually helps grass horses.

What about the implications for prep races for the Kentucky Derby? Aqueduct, Gulfstream, Tampa Bay Downs, Oaklawn, and the Chicago-area tracks will have their main Derby prep races on dirt. Keeneland, Turfway, Santa Anita, and Golden Gate will have theirs on synthetic surfaces. Then the Kentucky Derby will be run on dirt at Churchill Downs, as will the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

There will be total confusion in attempting to analyze dirt vs. synthetic-surface races. It is bad enough calculating variants from one dirt track to another without having this added implication.

This was a thoroughly ludicrous decision to install synthetic surfaces at so many tracks.

Brian Jones
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Barbaro's potential cause for bending rules

I am well aware that artificial insemination is banned for Thoroughbreds. The case of Barbaro is a rare one, however, and Barbaro is such a special animal. He had the rare combination of speed and stamina so desperately missing in today's Thoroughbreds.

As much of his sperm as possible should be recovered for the good of the breed and the great sport of racing. If there could somehow be even just a few sons or daughters of this magnificent athlete, it would be a small victory.

This is a hardship case if ever I saw one, and the rules should be broken here - it's that simple. To carry on his legacy through a few offspring would be invaluable. Maybe one of them will have his ability and be able to help improve the breed down the road.

As a lifelong horse lover and race fan, I beg of the powers that be, please salvage Barbaro's sperm and DNA - forget the rules.

Jeff Richardson
Lincoln, Neb.