05/17/2002 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor


The horse that launched 1,000 dreams

The passing of one of racing's all-time champions brought back a flood of memories. To grow up in the shadow of Belmont Park during the 1970's presented the opportunity to see a parade of stars from Secretariat to Ruffian to Forego, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, and so on. Yet the horse that launched a thousand racing dreams was Seattle Slew.

I was a high school junior in the fall of 1976, running from last-period English class to catch the fourth or fifth race at Belmont. I was there on the weekday afternoon when Slew won his maiden race and the fairy-tale racing saga began. Later, I got to see his Champagne, Belmont, Marlboro Cup, and, in maybe his greatest effort, his close second to Exceller in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

When my brother and I had the privilege to own our first horses, we grappled with a design for our silks: blocks, diamonds, hoops, initials - so many choices. But there was never a moment's hesitation on the colors: yellow and black, like Slew's, hoping maybe just a touch of the Slew magic might follow.

To Mickey and Karen Taylor, Jim and Sally Hill, and everyone at Three Chimneys, I send my condolences, as well as a toast on a job well done.

He was a once-in-a-lifetime horse, and we will miss him.

Leland Ackerley - Houston

Memories of Slew, courtsey of Seattle

Like so many, I was saddened by the death of Seattle Slew. Yet at the same time, his death did bring back some fond memories.

When Seattle Slew made history by becoming the first undefeated Triple Crown winner in 1977, I was working for Daily Racing Form at Longacres near Seattle. If one could not be at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, Pimlico for the Preakness Stakes, or Belmont Park for the Belmont Stakes that year, the next best place had to be Longacres.

During the televised stretch run of each victory by Slew during his Triple Crown sweep, the roar of the Longacres crowd was something that I will never forget. Remember, there was no simulcast wagering at that time. The people were not cheering because of the possibility of winning a wager, but because so many in the Seattle area had become fans of the brilliant colt as a result of his name and his being owned by Washington residents Karen and Mickey Taylor.

I also was at Longacres when Seattle Slew went there for a public appearance shortly after his first defeat, in the Swaps Stakes. Slew no longer was undefeated, yet Seattle area racing fans embraced the opportunity to see a Triple Crown winner in person. The place was packed. And why not? It's not every day one gets a chance to catch a glimpse of greatness.

Jon White - Monrovia, Calif.

Hall should open wide to recognize Romero

The May 12 article "Romero's daily fight with his own body," did a marvelous job in getting to the racing community what Randy Romero is going through in his struggle for his life.

It's nice to know Romero still has a good sense of humor in a trying time, and he seemed very candid on many issues regarding the jockey and racing community.

Romero's accomplishments are so numerous - it's incredible what he has done for the game. And among his mounts he counted Go for Wand and Personal Ensign, two Hall of Famers. That Romero himself is not in the Hall of Fame is an injustice to the game we all love.

I understand the spaces for inductees this year are already spoken for, but I believe the racing community should make an exception and invite Randy Romero and his family to the racing Hall of Fame ceremonies in Saratoga this August for a special induction to honor all his accomplishments.

Let's look at the whole picture: more than 4,200 victories, $75 million in purses, many riding titles in very competitive circuits, and many champions mounts. Let's all wake up and induct such a talent now for all he has done for the racing business as well as the fans. Let us show him we all love him and thank him for all he has done.

Mark Faden - Las Vegas

Add chutzpah to ill-advised in sale of War Emblem

I read in the May 6 Racing Form that Russell Reineman, "wants half of War Emblem's bonus."

What chutzpah! The more griping there is, the more sullied an already subpar image. First of all, not only was Reineman not taking the horse to Churchill Downs, he then proceeded to sell a 90 percent stake for the equivalent of one winning purse. In one fell swoop he gave up future racing and breeding income potential (which would still have been substantial even if the horse hadn't successfully negotiated the move up to classic level).

He also apparently neglected to mention the potential bonus during sales negotiations. Even if Reineman had been on his deathbed, totally broke, and also knew the horse was about to go lame, the sale made no sense.

Charles Langer - New York City

You take the money, you take your chances

Russell Reineman, who owns a steel business in Chicago, must have thought it was a steal when he sold 90 percent of War Emblem to The Thoroughbred Corp. But now that the colt is a classic winner with claim to a $1 million bonus, Reineman wants to backtrack.

You can't have it both ways. For instance, if you claim a horse and it drops dead, you own the corpse.

Reineman said business is bad in the steel industry. Maybe so, but he shouldn't try to make Thoroughbreds a cash-cow subsidiary.

James A. Loepp - Oceanside, Calif.

Canceled Santa Anita show far better than TVG

I would like to express my utter dismay that the "Santa Anita Live" program has been cut by Fox Sports Net 2 (April 21).

For those of us who have had the pleasure of seeing it, the show will be sorely missed. The people responsible for its demise apparently don't know a good thing when they see it. Santa Anita's director of broadcasting, Amy Zimmerman, and the entire production staff did an excellent job. and it was a pleasure to have real horse people hosting the show.

While I do not have Television Games Network on my cable system, I do watch it when visiting my sister. I enjoy watching the races it presents, but I must say the the programming in its present form has as much life as a funeral parlor.

If the powers that be at Fox Sports had any smarts at all they would snap up everybody who was involved with "Santa Anita Live" and keep a good thing going.

Bob E. Hoffman - Rowland Heights, Calif.

Critics aside, Bay Meadows wants Stronach

The April 21 letter "Magna empire's growth must be stopped" was highly critical of Magna Entertainment and its chairman, Frank Stronach, unfairly advocating that no one sell him another racetrack.

Here in Bay Meadows-land, we are worried that our track soon may be closed. If Stronach, who leases the track for racing but does not own the property, were to buy Bay Meadows outright and save it, we would give him a standing ovation.

Jack Green - San Mateo, Calif.