10/12/2006 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor

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Newfangled surface throws tradition to the wind

The Polytrack racing surfaces mean the end of handicapping as we know it.

I, for one, will never bet a dime on any race run on the surface. Why not? Because it is a total crapshoot. Because handicapping knowledge, experience, and the ability to interpret creatively the Racing Form has little to do with predicting the results of the races being run on a synthetic surface.

You say that with Polytrack the horses come back nice and sound? Well, that's great, but the bettors' wallets are coming back crippled because of so many lottery-like results.

For example, let's look at how favorites Happy Ticket and Spun Sugar did in last week's Spinster Stakes.

According to the DRF charts, both of the highly talented, proven stakes winners sat right off of a blistering pace of 25.05 seconds, 50.50, and 1:16.20. They finished, however, in seventh and eighth in the field of nine. I guess they were going too darned fast. Asi Siempre, previously a turf specialist, liked the surface and won going away. Who knew?

Hey, with Polytrack, you might as well just pick a number and play it all day. On Spinster day, if you played a 3-3-3 pick three on races 5 through 7, you got $16,000 for a buck. Easy as pie.

I predict that eventually the track's handle will drop significantly once the serious players realize that they have no edge. They might as well make pirate hats out of their Racing Forms, because fractional times and Beyer Speed Figures will no longer matter.

And if all of the tracks go to similar synthetic surfaces, I'll eventually find another game to play. Maybe something more predictable, like keno.

Jerry Hauck

Studio City, Calif.

Canadian players shorted by NYRA

Canadian horseplayers who play into New York Racing Association pick six pools are put at a disadvantage, since an identical ticket costs proportionally more for a player buying the ticket at, say, Woodbine than his competitor at Belmont. The Canadian horseplayer may have to shave his ticket a little, thereby lowering his chance of scoring 6 out of 6.

If one day the Canadian dollar is worth more than an American dollar, will the same track officials have enough courage to tell horseplayers at Belmont that they would have to play a $3 (U.S.) ticket while their Canadian competitors only have to spend $2 (Canadian) per ticket? Somehow I think not.

At Turfway Park, Canadian players can wager a $2 Canadian pick six ticket into their pool. Why not at Belmont?

We need to lower the ticket to about $2.50 for Canadian players. Otherwise, dollar-conscious Canadian pick six players have no choice but keeping their U.S. offtrack accounts to combat this disadvantage.

Tony Wong

Toronto