11/17/2006 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor


Owner objects to hasty conclusion about an Eclipse

In the aftermath of Ouija Board's second Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf victory in three years, a number of columnists have anointed her with this year's Eclipse Award at champion turf female. In the immortal words of football commentator Lee Corso, "Not so fast, my friends."

Should a horse who runs once a year in the United Estates be eligible for the Eclipse Award? In Canada, a horse must have a minimum of three starts there to be eligible for the Sovereign Awards. Shouldn't we support our own owners in the States with a similar requirement?

I would submit that my horse, Gorella, merits very strong consideration for this year's Eclipse Award. In last month's First Lady at Keeneland, she ran the mile in 1:34, three ticks off the track record, and recorded a Beyer Speed Figure of 112, the highest for any turf filly this year. In Gorella's previous race, the Beverly D., she dominated the best fillies and mares in the country. She ran the 1 3/16 miles in 1:53.71, which was two ticks off the stakes record, and beat Film Maker by 1 3/4 lengths and Honey Rider by 2 1/2 lengths. In other words, she has beaten the same horses Ouija Board defeated in the Breeders' Cup.

Gorella's only two defeats this year occurred at Churchill Downs when she faced colts. In the Woodford Reserve, she finished fifth, 1 3/4 lengths behind after a very troubled trip at the rail. In the Breeders' Cup Mile, three-quarters of a length separated the second- through seventh-place finishers.

Gorella has beaten every filly she has faced this year. In her earlier victory in the Just a Game at Belmont Park, she came from 10 lengths back in the last quarter-mile to sweep to victory with a brilliant closing kick. In the Beverly D., she swung six wide on the turn and ran the last quarter in 22 and 3 with a dynamic turn of foot. Her last five Beyers, including the Breeders' Cup Mile, have been a model of consistency: 101, 112, 105, 106, and 104.

It is my hope that Gorella, like Ouija Board, can return next year for her 5-year-old campaign and be as terrific as she has been this year. Her late-running style has made her a fan favorite and her owner a nervous wreck. Horse racing desperately needs stars, and Gorella, with her explosive style, is one of them. I would hope the Eclipse Award would not be given for a horse starting in one race, but reflect the performance throughout the year in the United States.

Martin Schwartz - Gulf Stream, Fla.

Training center claims its due credit

In response to the Nov. 1 article "New surface, and new outlook," what good news it contained about the new synthetic racing surface at Hollywood Park and a new enthusiasm! It was nice to read such upbeat comments at the beginning of a new era in California racing.

One comment I would like to make about the article concerns the statement that "A full-capacity stable" will give Hollywood's racing secretary, Martin Panza "1,800 horses on the grounds to fill races, in addition to those based at Santa Anita and Fairplex." Hmmm.

The article failed to mention that San Luis Rey Downs also supplies horses for all the Southern California race meets, including Hollywood Park. In fact, since Sept. 1 of this year, the San Luis Rey Downs-based horses have made 113 starts. These starts have resulted in 13 wins, 9 seconds, and 18 thirds. Our earnings, as of Oct. 31, were $751,108. Since that date, our ship-in horses have won three more races and placed in several other races.

These numbers include only horses who ship to run and return to their home stalls, usually by dinner time. There are many more young horses prepared at San Luis Rey Downs who ship into their trainers of record at each race meet.

We do hope that the Racing Form does not neglect to mention the longstanding and continuing contribution of our fine training center in future articles and comments.

Leigh Ann Howard, General Manager

San Luis Rey Downs Thoroughbred Training Center

Fan defends new Cup voice

I hope all the Trevor Denman-bashers are happy now - see the Nov. 12 letter to the Racing Form "Cup call had sound of wrong number" from a Tom Durkin devotee.

Sure, Denman missed a few incidents in anticipating something that didn't happen, but he's only human. The only reason for the criticism of Denman's Breeders' Cup calls is to justify the reinstatement of Durkin as announcer. I hope it doesn't happen. I like Durkin, but no one paints a race picture as accurately and descriptively as Denman does. He's the best.

Kudos to ESPN for choosing Denman. The network was surely "moving like a winner" when it made the choice.

Leroy Richardson - Upland, Pa.

Aqueduct solution: Radical makeover

In light of the current issues with Aqueduct's main-track cushion, and cancellation of the race card on Nov. 9 ("Track needs work, but there's no money," Nov. 11), it might make sense to reconfigure the main track, substitute a synthetic surface in lieu of dirt, and eliminate the inner track.

While this might seem drastic, the New York Racing Association, or a new franchise-holder, would ultimately amortize the cost difference by having only one track to maintain and monitor, and in turn provide a safer environment for Thoroughbreds and jockeys during winter months.

As important, a superior class of horse might stay in New York during winter months, as the seven-furlong races, and other distances not available on the inner track, would then be available.

Gary Zweifach - West New York, N.J.

Vested interests seen in Internet law

In Steven Davidowitz's Oct 13 column, "Bill torpedoes gaming websites," he wrote that we are on the cusp of a slippery slope where "ultra-conservative values of 'no more gambling in these United States' " are the final outcome.

Given the timing and method of this rider to the Safe Port Act of 2006, I find it much more likely that the Las Vegas, Native American, Atlantic City, and other casino interests had more to do with this rider than "ultra-conservative values." I haven't heard any moral righteousness coming from the Senate over this amendment.

We all should look closer at the sponsors of this bill and follow the money.

Keith Johnston - Cedar Creek, Texas