05/10/2002 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor


Arlington: Cup Day policy serves all fairly

After reviewing the May 5 letter "This year's Cup makes patrons poor relations" in the Daily Racing Form, we felt it necessary to address the writer's comments, which reflect limited information on the circumstances regarding the planned seating configurations and pricing for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Arlington Park on Oct. 26.

From the start of our planning for this major event, providing customer comfort and convenience have been the primary considerations. In order to achieve those goals at Arlington Park, where there are only approximately 10,000 permanent seats and a grandstand facility significantly smaller than previous Breeders' Cup sites like Churchill Downs, Hollywood Park, and Belmont Park, we determined that limiting total attendance and areas of access were the only methods to accomplish these goals. To provide outstanding service for all customers in attendance, it is critical not to exceed normal capacities for parimutuel windows, restroom facilities, and related amenities.

It was equally important for us (and the Breeders' Cup), however, to allow for as many racing fans as possible to attend. To achieve this goal, we will be adding the largest number of temporary seats (35,000) at the greatest expense in the history of the Breeders' Cup. The total capacity of more than 45,000 is comparable to the overall attendance of previous events at Gulfstream Park and Woodbine.

A considerable amount of time has been spent to assure that the additional seating, which are all comfortable, stadium-style individual seats, will be complemented with a variety of the most upscale amenities, including heated pavilions with abundant mutuel windows, concession and merchandise stands, and television monitors, plus high-quality restroom trailers.

We opted not to offer walk-up general admission to ensure our service goals are met so that we can guarantee fans in attendance that crowd traffic flows and comfort will be maximized. Additionally, limited access to certain areas is no different than at any other major sporting event with reserved seating. Fans with bleacher seats to the World Series are not permitted to sit in the box seats, nor are football fans with tickets in the upper deck at the Super Bowl allowed to sit in the first row on the 50-yard line. At NASCAR races, not all of the more than 100,000 fans in attendance can be located in the grandstand at the finish line. We realize this is a horse racing event, yet given our goals for servicing fans as detailed, walk-up general admission will not be offered.

We do offer, however, a wide variety of seating options and prices among the 35,000 to 40,000 seats available to the public through our ticket application process, which has a deadline of Sunday, June 16, 2002 for submittal. Ticket prices range from $20 to $285, with the variance based on amenities. Prices for this year's Breeders' Cup are comparable to the past few years, and less than other major sporting events of this magnitude. The high-end tickets include elegant dining in the luxury of a sky suite environment that includes excellent outside seating. The lowest-priced tickets provide the fun atmosphere that is so popular in the infield at the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Indianapolis 500. In between, seating locations and prices are similar to any other major entertainment event at a large stadium or racetrack venue.

We are proud to host the 19th running of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Arlington Park, and our team is very excited about the plans for the event. As the first-ever Midwest venue for the event, we are confident that our team of employees will present service in a manner that is our trademark. We hope the writer of that May 5 letter will join us as we celebrate another great year of racing culminating with the Breeders' Cup. We are confident that he will feel much differently after joining us on Oct. 26.

Steve Sexton

President, Arlington Park

More of Slew's legacy: A fan for life

I'll never forget the first time I saw Seattle Slew in person. It was Belmont Stakes Day and I was one of 70,000 people on hand at Belmont Park hoping to see history in the making. I was just a kid, not old enough to place a bet on him. But with a borrowed camera in my hand, I had pushed and squeezed my way down to the front of the railing that lined the winner's circle. If there was going to be a Triple Crown winner this day, then I was going to get the picture.

I couldn't see much of the race from where I stood; there were too many other people around who were much taller than I was. As the crowd in the stands behind me got louder and louder, suddenly the field came into view in the final sixteenth of a mile. I stretched and craned my neck to see Jean Cruguet stand up in the irons in celebration as Seattle Slew crossed the finish line to win the Triple Crown.

I still have the $2 win ticket that my father bought for me that day. I still have the Belmont Day program that I timidly asked Cruguet to autograph two years later at Saratoga. And I still have the picture I took of a smiling Cruguet being led into the winner's circle as he sat atop the one of the greatest racehorses of all time. My parents had taken my sister and me to the track many times before, but I became a racing fan in my own right on that Saturday afternoon in June nearly 25 years ago.

After that, I was fortunate to be on hand for most of Seattle Slew's races. I was there the day he defeated Affirmed in the Marlboro Cup in one of only two races in history between two Triple Crown winners. I can still hear the booming voice of the guy in the row behind me that day as Slew's fractions for the half-mile were posted. "They'll never catch him," he shouted, "never catch him!" He was right.

I was in the stands at Aqueduct for Slew's final victory that November. I think I can remember feeling that day that we might never see another one like him again. It's been more than 23 years since that day, and I'm still waiting. So long, friend.

Andrew Morris

Wilton, Conn.

History will note skill behind War Emblem

It's a consolation that no amount of money can erase Frank Springer's name from War Emblem's past performances. Future readers will know who should take the lion's share of credit for his Derby performance.

It's fair to call Bob Baffert clever for recognizing Springer's work in bringing this horse up to a peak performance, but could we reserve "genius" for another occasion, Mr. Salman?

Virginia Petit

Fort Wayne, Ind.

Derby victory no laughing matter

Dear War Emblem:

How dare you mislead us. How insolent of you to enter the Kentucky Derby coming off an Illinois Derby six-furlong fraction of 1:13, and win at Churchill Downs in front-running style.

Do you think it's funny that you raced at Sportsman's Park? Horses are supposed to come to the Kentucky Derby from California, Florida, or New York, not from some automobile track in Illinois.

I don't want to hear how you tried to warn us by winning your Illinois races by many lengths. You are a prankster, sir, and the Triple Crown is too important for pranks.

Horse racing needs another Tom Fool, not any more of your tomfoolery.

Joe Colville

Torrance, Calif.

Memo to Beyer: Trust those figures of yours

I don't understand why Andrew Beyer doesn't believe in his own numbers. In the May 4 Racing Form, he selected his top four horses for the Kentucky Derby, and War Emblem was not one of his selections despite having the top Beyer Speed Figure by five points.

I do believe in Beyer's numbers, and the only bet I made on the Derby was a win bet on War Emblem.

Walter Harris

Woodland Hills, Calif.