09/28/2006 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor

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Along with trainers, owners also factor into winning formula

As a longtime Thoroughbred owner, I wanted to respond to Steven Crist's excellent column of Sept. 16, "Why trainers win more today." For starters, few in the media have written a more definitive piece regarding the long-held "rocket-fuel" myth. The column provided not only much-needed scrutiny, but also the statistics to dispel that myth.

The racing fan reading the column naturally would conclude that it is the savvy, acumen, foresight, and ability of the Richard Dutrow, Steve Asmussen, Peter Walder, Jeff Mullins, Scott Lake, Kirk Ziadie, Wayne Catalano, Cole Norman, and others that ultimately sets them apart from the crowd. Clearly, this is a huge part of the equation.

By the same token, if the name of the column instead had been "Why owners win more today," the statistics would be the same. Just as there is a handful of trainers each year who separate themselves from the crowd with 25-plus percent winning performances, so too is there a handful of owners who do the same, and their names are just as well known: Bob Bone, Maggi Moss, Richard Averill, Robert Cole, Sanford Goldfarb, Frank Calabrese, Gumpster Stable, etc.

These owners provide horses to the very trainers on whom Crist's column focused. I suggest it is every bit the savvy, acumen, foresight, and ability of these owners that is vital in the "winning more" hypothesis. In the final analysis, it is the combination of the two - owner and trainer as a team - that lies at the heart of these statistics.

Mike Berry

West Palm Beach, Fla.

Riders too vital in the game to want for insurance

Let's all wake up and be realistic. Jockeys are and always will be the most important participants in a race. As the saying goes, "Did you ever see a horse lose a race?"

The jockeys and all the people who work around Thoroughbreds have important and sometimes very dangerous jobs. The jocks, I believe, have the most dangerous job of all. They need to be taken care of first and foremost. There is so much money being thrown around since the advent of racinos that begrudging them insurance is ludicrous, no matter what the cost ("Insurance bill under fire," Sept. 24).

I have been a trainer and have been mad at some jocks for not listening to instructions or for making a bad decision. On the other hand, I have been a jockey's agent and have made a good living off some of the same jocks who I had gotten mad at! I have been to the track first-aid room after a spill, and believe me it isn't pretty. I have also been to hospitals to see jocks who have been pretty busted up during a race. They deserve more because they are subjected to danger every time they get a leg up. Lets give them and all backstretch employees insurance - they need it.

Anthony A. Stabile

Howard Beach, N.Y.