03/05/2010 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor


New Jersey dates proposal looms as racing badlands

It seems that the beginning of the end has been a long time coming for New Jersey's racing industry, but the latest meet proposal recently leaked by officials suggests that its denouement might truly be at hand, as told in "Governor pushes shorter Monmouth" (Feb. 28) and the March 6 DRF Weekend article "Jersey plan: High risk, high reward."

How many years will it be before a proposed 71 racing days become 40? Or 35? Probably fewer than you'd think.

Bettors, too, will only be able to think back on the Meadowlands turf course, one of the finest on the East Coast, come October and November when the Monmouth turf will be a month or two past viable. More troubling still will be officials' likely insistence to allocate the additional purse dollars in optional allowance races that still won't manage more than six or seven horses, on average.

The Todd Pletchers, Nick Zitos, and Barclay Taggs of the industry will be more than happy to take home the additional cash - with their second-stringers, of course - but that won't serve to bolster outfits filling the lower-level races that make the industry go, nor will it help increase wagering on those races actually worth handicapping at the track. Time will tell when that first condition book comes out, but I suspect that a lot of trainers with rates north of $100 per day will be smiling.

I can certainly appreciate the desire to cut operating costs and demonstrate improved figures over last year. The proposal would surely see to both in the short term. Unfortunately, the associated long-term cost is curtains for the state's horse industry, and that doesn't strike me as something to get excited about. Stake-holders should go back to the drawing board.

Sean Massey - Metuchen, N.J.

Santa Anita needs to learn a lesson

Regarding the recent and repeated closure of Santa Anita every time there is any precipitation, as in "Another card lost to rain" (March 1), I suggest that the more lucrative Southern California winter dates be assigned to Hollywood Park and the less-desirable late spring/early summer dates be run at Santa Anita.

Maybe hitting the racetrack square in the pocketbook would getoSanta Anita to straighten out its act.

Management has had three seasons to get a dependable all-weather track installed, and it has failed miserably. Meanwhile, Golden Gate Fields, nearly 400 miles to the north, has installed a Tapeta racing surface that seems to hold up under all conditions. Yet Santa Anita, with a handle approximately significantly greater than that of Golden Gate's, just cannot or will not get it done.

Perhaps a return to a free marketplace - such as existed in the 1980s between Gulfstream and Hialeah - would straighten things out.

Tim Ford - Oakland, Calif.

Defiant stance the wrong position

I don't know what is dumber, not realizing that the Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita has been a horrible failure worthy of immediate correction or stating that tracks should compete against each other for business in a shrinking industry.

The words of Frank Stronach, chief executive in charge of Santa Anita, in "Stronach: No surface change," (March 3): "I'm not going to put money in, if I don't see the whole structure does not work." Translation: "I'm so upside down financially you can forget it, regardless of the obvious need."

The move to artificial surfaces ignored the fact that the breed is getting weaker and that breakdowns were more a function of inbreeding and drugs than anything else.

I can also just imagine Del Mar and Santa Anita open at the same time. competing for customers. What excitement three-horse fields in Arcadia would bring. What is needed is more cooperative marketing between the tracks, not competition.

As long as racing is burdened by thinking like this, it will continue on an inevitable march towards extinction.

Steve Orton - LaGrange, Ill.

Quotations sound like Chairman Wha?

After reading the somewhat rambling remarks by Frank Stronach in "Stronach: No surface change," can anyone really wonder why horse racing - especially California horse racing - is in serious trouble?

Tom Wafer - Rolling Hills, Calif.