11/03/2006 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor


Sheikh should be admired, not criticized

Andrew Beyer would better serve his readers by learning how to handicap the "all weather" tracks of the future, rather than being critical of Sheikh Mohammed, his brother, son, managers, and trainers. I'd like to invite Mr. Beyer to visit Central Kentucky where the Maktoum family has left a lasting impression and legacy. There are few commercial breeders who have not benefited directly or indirectly from the Maktoums' participation in the industry.

The economic impact the family has had on the businesses involving the development and building of farms, has been significant for Central Kentucky. If you've never experienced a Keeneland yearling sale, come see and feel the electricity when the sellers see that 747 parked on the tarmac across from the sales ground. They know how important the family is to our whole industry.

There have been many wealthy people who have tried to "buy" their way into the elite fraternity of owners of quality racehorses. Some have had success. None have possessed the passion, the knowledge, and horse husbandry skills as Sheikh Mohammed. Sheikh Mohammed is oftentimes referred to as a "visionary," something our industry lacks. He has developed and underwritten the Darley Flying Start Program because of his concern as to where the industry's future leaders will come from. His successes in developing racing in Dubai, the Dubai World Cup, moving his country away from oil dependence towards tourism and other economic boosters are prime examples of his vision. We should applaud him, not criticize him. We should listen to him.

Racing is about competition. Did anyone complain when Wayne Lukas was dominating racing for his clients? What about Todd Pletcher's current dominance? The only complaints we hear are jealous complaints. Mr. Beyer, you say there are no human stories surrounding the Maktoum family. Obviously you were not at Saratoga for the Travers Stakes this year or watched it on ESPN, for you would have seen how jubilant Sheikh Mohammed's son Sheikh Rashid was after Henny Hughes, Ashkal Way, and Bernardini's impressive victories.

Sheikh Mohammed and his family are true horsemen and have a deep and abiding love for Thoroughbreds. The Maktoum family is not afraid to race their top horses against each other, so this weekend we will see two top horses, Invasor and Bernardini, race against each other in the Breeders' Cup Classic. What other group or family today would do such a thing?

Everyone in the Thoroughbred industry, including you Mr. Beyer, should be delighted that his interest is in the Thoroughbred and not some other endeavor. Maybe Sheikh Mohammed speaks from his checkbook, but Mr. Beyer you should not speak from your wallet.

David L. Switzer, Executive Director, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders

Open checkbook should be endorsed

Was Andrew Beyer so irritated in his "Call it checkbook horsemanship" column because an Arab is so successful, or is he just so jaded that he doesn't understand the sport of Thoroughbred racing after so many years of making figures for gambling purposes?

The potshots he leveled at Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum were reprehensible, especially coming from someone whose total investment in racehorses is zero.

Knocking Sheikh Mohammed for buying Cara Rafaela in foal to A.P.oIndy is ludicrous. There are a ton of rich guys in the world, and any one of them could have bought that mare, who was carrying Bernardini. Maktoum is an accomplished rider and horseman and knew a promising prospect when he saw one.

Sheikh Mohammed puts up millions every year for the Dubai World Cup and the accompanying races. Americans have no problem taking all-expenses-paid trips to Dubai to run for his money. I have never seen "The Beyer Speed Figure Breeders' Cup Sprint" or even "The Beyer Claiming Crown Classic."

If someone is going to pop off, he ought to put some of his dough where his mouth is.

Jude T. Feld, Lexington, Ky.

Hard to cheer for ruling family

My thanks to Andrew Beyer for his Nov. 1 column, "Call it checkbook horsemanship."

As I was taking in Travers Day this year, I realized I didn't care one bit about the Darley/Godolphin parade of winners. Up until that day, I accepted that they would swoop in and win some stakes in North America, but not buy a card at Saratoga.

Godolphin/Darley's whole approach is divisive, with their refusal to bid on Coolmore-bred pedigrees and the paucity of their personal appearances at American tracks. The last time I checked, racing fans were worried about handicapping, watching the races, and punching holes in the analyses of public handicappers, not politics.

I don't think the feelings I have are xenophobic. And it's not like I'm going to be rubbing elbows with Ogden Mills Phipps at the Breeders' Cup. But when Phipps, Eugene Melnyk, Frank Calabrese, or even George Steinbrenner wins a big stakes race, at least I know that it was appreciated and earned.

I am hoping boredom will set in soon for the sheikhs in their racing ventures, and they will move on to new quests that won't ruin another Travers Day for us. I hear the America's Cup is up for grabs.

Scott Smith, Las Vegas

Tracks should offer full disclosure

By selectively releasing only positive numbers for ontrack handle and not a complete report on the season's activity ("Ontrack handle up in '06," Nov. 1), the Oak Tree Racing Association draws suspicion that it will tell you only what it wants you to know.

This type of reporting only adds to public criticism of racetrack management and their credibility problem. The Racing Form did well to add up the all-sources daily numbers, but that should not have been necessary if Oak Tree had given a full report.

Roger Way, Upland, Calif.