06/05/2008 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor

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Time to abolish bad tradition of juvenile racing

Everybody knows it is wrong to race young horses - the owners, the trainers, the jockeys, the veterinarians, the breeders, the racetracks they are asked to run at. But if you ask any of the above, they tell you it's okay. I would like them to prove it to me and ease my mind.

They all know it's wrong and they all keep doing it. Why? Because they've been doing it for years - it's tradition.

Just because they've been doing it for years doesn't mean it's right. It's time to change the tradition.

Horses are colts and fillies until they are 5, at which time they are referred to as mares and horses. What that means is that the animal is full-grown at 5, not before.

Horses are too young to be raced at 2 and should be banned from all racetracks. They live to be 20-plus years old. Barbaro and Eight Belles lost approximately 27 years of their lives. I would like to have statistics from all over the country about how many breakdowns preceded the Kentucky Derby.

If owners, trainers, and jockeys would refuse to race a 2-year-old, they would not have to suffer the anguish and guilt of his possibly breaking down as a 2- or 3-year-old. If these people continue this trend, they deserve what they get.

Professional handicappers and journalists make me sick when they disrespect 5- or 6-year-olds by referring to them as "senior citizens" and saying that they have "lost a step." If they hadn't been raced so young, this would not apply - they would be in their prime.

I am not against horse racing. I love to see these magnificent animals run - at the right age. Let's have no more Ruffians, Barbaros, Eight Belleses, George Washingtons . . . the list goes on and on.

Eugenia M. Hedstrom - Las Vegas

Squabbling factions break up the game

For the second year in a row, wagering on the Kentucky Derby was restricted, unavailable at some account-wagering services ("Churchill signal deal looks unlikely," May 2). What a shame. In today's technological world, this sport should be growing and expanding like no other. Yet, in an industry that is clawing and scratching for survival, the very groups that need it to survive are throwing death blow after death blow on it.

Having been an owner for approximately eight years, I have watched this sport in steep decline, starting with track ownership, who believe in "build it and they will come." There are too many other options in today's society. Years ago horse racing was one of the only ways to gamble. Today's technology has given gamblers and enthusiasts other, more accessible, options.

Until the differing entities get together and work for one common cause, this sport is on life support. There are too many chiefs chasing the almighty dollar without any respect for those who are the reason the sport is alive, the enthusiast and consumer.

Steven Schoppa - Sugar Land, Texas

Internet access - stuck in stone age

As a onetime everyday horseplayer, I have not wagered in more than a month because I am witnessing the sport that I love continually try to make itself extinct.

How can racing allow itself to get in the position on its biggest race day to hinder wagering on the entire Kentucky Derby card over the Internet - the only growth area for wagering? Not even via Twinspires, owned by the came company as the track!

I said I would never leave Youbet.com, but after having to sign up with Twinspires to wager on Gulfstream, I decided to make it my permanent wagering site because of the discount I get on Brisnet, as well as there being no deposit fees. Yet I couldn't wager on Churchill's entire Derby card.

The Breeders' Cup will probably suffer its worst two years in a row because Breeders' Cup Ltd. in its wisdom awarded the event in back-to-back years to Santa Anita. You know: a track that by state mandate put in an "all-weather" surface that couldn't handle rain and caused cancellation of 11 racing dates.

Shame on you, racing industry. Realize before it's too late that you are on suicide watch!

Dan Pinkos - Easthampton, Mass.

Bet restrictions just bad business

If I want to buy a stock on the New York Stock Exchange, it doesn't matter what brokerage I'm with, the trade goes through. If I want to buy an item at a store with a check, the merchant doesn't care what bank my check is drawn from, only if I have enough money in the account to cover it.

But when I want to make a wager at Churchill Downs using my Television Games Network account, my money is no good there.

We need some grown-ups running this thing.

Dan Keays - San Diego

Drop in handle synthetic in nature

The recently reported trend of declining handle at Hollywood Park ("Hollywood business slips," May 21), is, one has to believe, at least partly attributable to that track's state-ordered synthetic racing surface.

As a horse racing veteran, I see an increasing number of my fellow horseplayers showing a general disdain for playing races on artificial surfaces with the same gusto as they play those on dirt surfaces. They are holding their breath in the more-than-likely vain hope that Santa Anita might one day return to racing on a traditional dirt oval.

Otherwise, I believe, Santa Anita, like Hollywood, will eventually become a secondary track, not a primary one, for simulcast bettors.

Ivan Bigg - Winnipeg, Manitoba