06/06/2002 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


New Jersey law should balance revenue split

My attention was directed to the June 6 column "N.J. horsemen can't control incoming simos" by Stan Bergstein. I am one of the attorneys who represent the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and I am aware of the piece of legislation introduced by Rep. Frank Pallone seeking to clear up an ambiguity in the Interstate Horseracing Act, which was first adopted by the Federal government in 1978 and was amended in 2000 to expand its coverage to include telephonic and electronic wagering. What Daily Racing Form failed to reveal was the significant interest that Stan Bergstein has in connection with the passage of the Pallone Bill. For more years than I care to remember, Mr. Bergstein has been an exponent of and spokesman for Standardbred racing both in New York and throughout the United States.

The Standardbred horsemen are very concerned with what is occurring in New Jersey, since they have been receiving the benefit of the supplemental purse money earned by the importation of Thoroughbred signals for many years. In New Jersey, the breakdown of revenue from incoming simulcasts is something like 86 percent from Thoroughbred racing and 14 percent generated by the importation of Standardbred signals. That money then is distributed to the tracks who are offering live racing during the importation of the out-of-state signal.

Because of a quirk in New Jersey law and an ambiguity in federal law up to now, and because of New Jersey's disproportionate allocation of racing days, the Standardbreds are receiving most of the financial remuneration generated by offtrack betting parlors that pass as live race tracks in New Jersey. Hence, the Standardbred interests are very concerned that the amendment of the federal law seeking to distribute more equitably interstate-generated revenues will threaten the windfall which they are receiving at the hands of the Thoroughbred industry.

I also beg to differ with Mr. Bergstein regarding his interpretation of the purpose underlying the adoption of the 1978 statute. The legislative history clearly supports the thesis that the statute was adopted because of the concerns resulting from approval of the offtrack betting parlors in New York. It was the impact of the offtrack betting receipts as a possible ruination of live racing that was the catalyst for the adoption of this law. In New Jersey, that is precisely the problem that Thoroughbred horsemen are confronted with, in that revenues from their business are being diverted to support Standardbred purses.

We are currently in discussions with interested parties looking toward an amicable resolution of this ongoing problem. Many knowledgeable people in New Jersey support the Thoroughbred horsemen's proposed amendment of the existing federal act. We ask the support of Thoroughbred horsemen throughout the United States so that they, too, will not face the type of diversion of Thoroughbred monies to enhance the interest of the Standardbred Industry.

I have participated in both Standardbred racing as well as Thoroughbred racing, and believe that the Pallone Bill is necessary to establish a level racetrack.

Michael D. Schottland

Freehold, N.J.

Tracks beholden to a competitor

Andrew Beyer was right on the mark with his May 30 column, "Superfecta way to stir up excitement," about that wager and the failure of racetracks to find innovative products. Racetracks, it is hoped, will take note.

It should be obvious that large payoffs that emulate state lotteries would attract more customers. I wonder, however, if it's a lack of imagination that has prevented racetracks from coming up with innovations similar to Beyer's superfecta concept.

Racetracks today depend on state support. States, however, run lotteries. If racetracks started offering a product that cut into the state lottery customer pool, what would happen to the state-track relationship? Are racetracks really free to offer something that would compete with state lotteries?

David Kilmer

Los Angeles

Horse trader must abide by rules of the marketplace

As a race fan for many years, I have become a big Bob Baffert fan. Why are he and the prince criticized for buying War Emblem? Couldn't anyone have written the check? This speaks of nothing but jealousy.

Would anybody feel sorry for the prince and Baffert if before the Kentucky Derby the horse's bone chips acted up and his racing career had been over?

As to the previous owner, he should shut up and just cash the checks. It is perfectly clear that he sold 90 percent of the horse, and it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that he is entitled to only 10 percent of whatever the horse earns. Would he have returned any of the $900,000 if War Emblem had never raced again or would he have said, "A deal's a deal." They name streets after people like him: One Way.Charles H. Mooney

Cleveland, Ohio

No need to reschedule; New York did just fine

I would like to respond to the May 5 letter "Juggle Cup schedule to give New York its due," suggesting New York host the Breeders' Cup again soon under "normal" conditions.

As an employee of the New York Racing Association, my first reaction was "Is he crazy? Does he know how much work this is?" My second reaction was to reflect back on the day as a racing fan. I overheard a conversation at a local watering hole near Belmont Park that went something like this:

"You go to the Breeders' Cup this year?"

"Yeah, it was really cold."

"Freezing, and the lines were long for everything."

"Yeah, what an awesome day!"

"It was a great day."

I don't blame anyone for not wanting to fly, because I disliked flying before Sept. 11, and I have a battle with myself every time I have to get on a plane. Those people who couldn't attend missed the Breeders' Cup of a lifetime. It truly lived up to the billing of World Thoroughbred Championship. The horses came from everywhere. The crowd was cold and under the watchful eye of tons of security. These people were the most amazing bunch of enthusiastic racing lunatics I have ever witnessed, and it made for an incredible experience.

On a different note, I think that the Breeders' Cup Ltd. and host tracks have to make sure that all the fans that want to attend this great day can be accommodated. The racing industry does not want to exclude fans from our biggest events.

Elizabeth Bracken,

Director of Simulcasting

New York Racing Association

Santa Anita gift popular, and practical, too

A friend of mine recently noticed the weather vane I received as an opening-day gift from Santa Anita sitting on a shelf in my family room. He told me that a letter in Daily Racing Form had called the weather vane a "useless" giveaway ("Magna grade rates less than cum laude," March 31).

Oh, really? My wife and I love it!

I think the weather vane is one of the best racetrack opening-day gifts I've ever received. My wife loves the thermometer part of it. She says I run the heat too much and proves it by pointing.

The only other opening-day gift I like as much is the Santa Anita jockey lamp from a few years ago. My little granddaughter loves it and uses it as a night-light.

Larry Salk

Tarzana, Calif.