01/29/2010 1:00AM

Letters to the Editor


Del Mar has more than one obstacle to hosting Cup

While the majority of Brad Free's Jan. 23 column, "Flood of good news in Calif.," was right on the money about the happenings in California racing, the part about Del Mar not hosting a Breeders' Cup seemed a little off. Even though is synthetic track will not help bring a Breeders' Cup there, there are a couple of points that need to be addressed:

1. Does the track have the resources to hold a crowd of 50,000-plus? The last time I was there, I felt like a sardine with about a crowd of 25,000.

2. Has the track widened its turf course to the Breeders' Cup standard of accommodating 14 horses at the starting gate? I heard sometime back they were going to take care of this, but I still see only 10 horses lining up at the gate.

The items above must be taken care of before any attempt by Del Mar to have the two richest days in American racing happen.

Brooks Schuler - Huntington Beach, Calif.

Synthetics create very real division

The way I see it, by far the worst thing that has resulted from the installation of synthetic tracks is they have caused such division within the horse racing industry. Synthetic surfaces have pitted those who hate them against those who love them.

There is discord from coast to coast. While horse racing strives to survive despite facing a number of significant challenges - such as fierce competition for the wagering dollar and shrinking coverage by the mainstream media, to name just two - it can ill afford the disharmony that currently exists because of synthetic tracks.

Jon White - Monrovia, Calif.

Hot Springs right for sizzling match

So the conversation about Rachel Alexandra vs. Zenyatta in 2010 is now in full stride. When will they both be ready to race again? More importantly, when will they finally meet? The meeting of these two great champions could be the most anticipated horse race ever, if both sides agree on a spot.

My choice would be the Grade 1 Apple Blossom on April 3 at Oaklawn Park. Both horses have raced and won over Oaklawn's dirt surface, and both horses would have proper time to prepare for an April race. Oaklawn Park would be a perfect spot for this great matchup. The track's president, Charles Cella, is just the person to host such an event, maybe even bump up the purse if both agree to show?

I get excited just thinking about the possibilities of this great event, and if not at Oaklawn Park, I just hope it happens, sooner than later of course.

James Cossey - Conway, Ark.

Offtrack sites hold little appeal

I wish the experience described by the writer of the Jan. 17 letter "Nothing replaces the human touch for sport's lovers," - the experience of finding camaraderie with lifetime friends - was prevalent at the offtrack betting sites of suburban Chicago.

I have found the following atmosphere at two brick-and-mortar sites in the area OTBs:

1. The language of many regulars is atrocious, with the F-bomb consistently used in loud conversations.

2. After repeated requests, management has refused to ask these known offenders to clean up their daily foul and disruptive language.

3. There is no Illinois Racing Board representative actually policing either the facility or its management to take immediate corrective action.

The letter mentioned that betting on the computer can lead to cabin fever. Could I mention several benefits of wagering on the Internet:

1. One is not exposed to the unacceptable OTB behavior, smoke-filled rooms, or even rude tellers, waitstaff, or management.

2. It can provide greater control (no long lines for tellers) of the betting process and more flexibility (wagering at your convenience) for the racing consumer.

3. A retired snowbird can use a laptop at the warm and sunny beach to place bets at Gulfstream Park - thus not being exposed to the experience of driving on I-95 just to get to a brick-and-mortar facility.

I do agree, though, in that there is no substitute for the thrill of experiencing being at the track (especially Hialeah Park).

Could I suggest a daily walk in the park with a dog to rid one's self of cabin fever? Camaraderie with friends can be also be found at church, social organizations, and athletic events.

Lastly, how does the writer put up with cancer-causing "cigar smoke from Bowie to Santa Anita?"

Jim Lentz - Wheaton, Ill.