02/26/2010 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor

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Kentucky proposal would tax residents beyond good reason

I am following with interest the bill introduced in Kentucky to increase the tax, yet again, placed on the back of the beleaguered horseplayer, most recently described in "Kentucky bet tax advances," on Feb 26.

This time, I find it even more brazen in the fact that the politicians are fleecing their own constituents, not out-of-state ones. It's getting so cold in Kentucky, the politicians have their hands in their own pockets. Time was when I would rant that they are killing the golden goose. Now, however, all that is left in the racing industry is a badly mutilated carcass that the buzzards pick over now and again. Rather than provide any stimulus to the greatest industry his state has to offer, Kentucky Rep. Larry Clark must have noticed a morsel left to pick.

Of equal distress were the craven remarks of Robert Elliston, president of Turfway Park. They reminded me of the jokes of the "what he said versus what he meant" genre.

What he said about the proposed tax on account wagers was, "Practically speaking, the amount is so small I don't believe it will have a big impact on wagering." What I believe he meant was, "These horseplayers are such idiots, they couldn't tell a hand was in their pockets if it pinched them." So much for protecting his customers. I'm not even from Kentucky, but I'm watching. Bet your customers are too, Mr. Elliston.

Russell A. Weber - Amityville, N.Y.

Gate incident a classic mishap

The Feb. 20 DRF Weekend "Q & A" with consultant and former starter Bob Duncan dwelled on Quality Road and his gate scratch at last year's Breeders' Cup Classic. That this incident is still uppermost in our minds more than three months later is understandable because of the importance of the race. Unfortunately, the interview didn't put the issue to rest.

Duncan was quoted: "It wasn't about the gate. . . . No fault of the crew in California. What happened there is that it became a battle of wills between him and the gate crew."

I would ask Duncan some further questions:

1. Would he have placed a blindfold on the horse to calm the animal?

2. Would he have opened the front door to the gate, as was done for Zenyatta?

3. Had Quality Road's jockey, John Velazquez, offered advice to the crew?

4. And, finally, if it had been Duncan and his New York Racing Association crew, would Quality Road have been scratched?

I saw Quality Road at this year's Donn Handicap. On the wayoto the saddling area he would stop momentarily and then proceed when he was ready. His handlers and the gate crew at Gulfstream Park were quite patient with him, and he went on to win easily.

The Santa Anita Breeders' Cup Classic incident was a black eye for Thoroughbred racing in America.

Martin Karlin - Tamarac, Fla.

Martinez recalled as racing good guy

I was saddened to read, in the Feb. 21 Mid-South Notes, of the recent passing of former jockey Flavio Martinez.

I trained horses for many years in the Phoenix area and throughout the Midwest, and I first met Flavio in Phoenix in 1984. As any trainer or jockey will tell you, if you stay in the game long enough you will meet all kinds of people. Flavio was truly one of the good guys, always friendly, hardworking, and he rode your longshot as hard as your favorite.

Neither he nor I ever made it to the "big-time," but he won lots of races, always gave you his best, and was a big-time good guy. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family.

Pat Cuccurullo - Shelbyville, Ky.