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Letters to the Editor
Maryland action sends wrong signal to all concerned
After having read Andrew Beyer's Jan. 31 column, "Maryland admits troubling figure," regarding the granting of stalls to trainer Kirk Ziadie so he can race again in the state of Maryland, one can only concur with Beyer's comments on the status of racing in the state of Maryland.
For officials even to acknowledge they did very little due diligence before granting admission to Mr. Ziadie is disturbing enough, but then even to think that people involved in this industry are not aware of current events in their own business is equally disappointing.
When are the officials who run this great sport going to step up to the plate and begin to understand that this is not just another cash cow for the various levels of government, but an industry that is very close to being put on life support. The cash cow and a wonderful sport and piece of entertainment disappearing into the night?
This is just one more fan's pained bleat, as we watch another administrative nail being hammered into the coffin of what was once considered a wonderful source of entertainment for so many of us. Keep it up, boys. Your apparent indifferent attitude, and actions, should only take a few more years to kill the game.
Grant Wilson - Toronto, Ontario
Ownership sees a different side
The implication running through Andrew Beyer's Jan. 31 column about Kirk Ziadie's training success is both unfounded and
As a partner in a racing stable, I have gotten to know dozens of trainers over the years, and I have been the most impressed by Kirk Ziadie's sensible approach to the sport. He is incredibly patient with his horses and never runs them unless they are both healthy and fit, despite the pleas of owners like myself to run more frequently and generate income for our stable.
Ziadie's horse knowledge and approach to his trade are reminiscent of a horse whisperer's relationship, and that insight and lack of urgency are much more responsible for his success and not related to using illegal substances. His medication violations are much less severe than those of dozens of high-profile trainers, and he has never been suspended for using
I sincerely hope that the Maryland Racing Commission - as well as the powers that be in other jurisdictions - will ignore the inaccurate allegations being bandied about and allow Mr. Ziadie to continue to train both our horses as well as those of his other loyal owners.
David Mullin, M.D. - Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Midstretch battle should be costly
In response to "Dueling in the Stretch" in the Jan. 30 DRF Weekend, I was shocked and appalled by what transpired in the fifth race at Philadelphia Park on Jan. 8. After watching the replay of the race and the reckless display by jockeys Eriluis Vaz and Ademar Santos, I feel that both jockeys should be suspended indefinitely from any racetrack. Their selfish actions endangered all participants in the race, animal and human. Their blatant disregard and lack of judgment and sportsmanship damaged an industry that is desperate to become viable. It also marginalized tragic events that have permanently displaced fellow jockeys and horses from the sport.
I am also very surprised that the race was actually made official. Were bettors who backed both jockeys' horses treated to a fair contest? Does this mean that this type of behavior is accepted and tolerated by racetrack officials? The race should have immediately been declared a no-contest, and no one should have been rewarded either purse money nor parimutuel payouts. The benefits would be twofold: (1) The removal of purse money would deter these defiant acts because it effects owners, trainers, and jockeys, and (2) the bettor would feel that he was treated to a fair and legitimate race.
John Colucci - Redondo Beach, Calif.
Rider dustup gets mud on sport
In the fifth race at Philadelphia Park on Jan. 8. two jockeys put their own lives, as well as those of 11 horses and nine fellow jockeys, in peril. For that, I hope the punishment will be equal to their reckless actions.
To read Jay Hovdey's Jan. 30 article in DRF's Weekend section, one might get the impression that the incident was just a racetrack commonplace, yet another idiosyncrasy that arises in horse racing that might be found amusing. Just as cases of drug positives and race-fixing leave a black eye on the sport, so did this act. It should be condemned for what it is: a blatant disregard for human and equine life.
I have always believed that for racing to thrive and be competitive with other sports, it must do everything better, cleaner than its competition. For every "unique idiosyncrasy" that arises, we lose customers, then money, then jobs, and eventually racetracks. To think this was anything less than a black eye to racing is completely asinine.
P.J. Orlando - Tucson, Ariz.
Exercise rider a pro right to the end
This letter is in regard to the Feb. 4 article "Exercise rider dies at Tampa." I just would like you all to know that Robert Shields, better known as Ted or Teddy, was a very talented rider. Ted had ridden and worked with horses all his life. It was truly his passion and something he thoroughly enjoyed. He had a racing career as a jockey for many years, having a trainer in Canada named Carl Chapman hold his apprentice contract. His first win was at Bowie racetrack in Maryland in the late 1960s. He had the pleasure of working for many outstanding trainers, including Woody Stephens and Mack Miller. He had ridden races and exercised horses up and down the East Coast, from Woodbine and Fort Erie in Canada, to Saratoga, Belmont, Aqueduct, and Finger Lakes in New York, to Calder, Gulfstream, and Tampa in Florida, as well as many racetracks and training centers in between.
Any trainer or groom I had ever spoken to about Ted had always said what a "good hand on a horse" he was, and that he "had a good clock in his head," which is why he was always sought out to breeze horses in the morning.
I have been assured that he had galloped the horse who ultimately would be his last several times before Monday's accident, so he was familiar with this particular horse. Although Ted was 60, he was still a very capable rider. This accident could have happened to any rider at any time or anywhere. At least he was doing what he loved, and he did not suffer.
He is survived by his ex-wife Linda (me), our 15-year old daughter, Claire, and his younger brother, William.
Linda Shields - Fort Lauderdale, Fla.