07/26/2002 12:00AM

Letters to the editor

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Infighting may make this fan throw in towel

I believe I am very much the type of fan and gambler that everyone in the industry says they want to attract and keep: college-educated, six-figure income, passionate about the sport, yearly attendee at the Preakness and both the Del Mar and Saratoga meets (for long weekends), wouldn't miss the Breeders' Cup for the world.

But it appears that because of the infighting and consolidation in the industry, it has become very hard for an passionate player like myself to both want to, and more importantly, be able to make a bet.

Let me be specific. Let's use my Internet account with E-Bet USA, through Penn National, as example number one. I can bet online, but only at non-Magna or non-Churchill Downs tracks. For those tracks, I have to phone the bet in. Sort of defeats the whole purpose of an online account.

What's the thinking at Magna and Churchill? That I will get frustrated and open an online account with them? No thanks. Penn National is five minutes from my house, and monetary deposits and, more importantly, withdrawals are a breeze. The net effect is that I bet less or not all at those tracks. Nobody wins.

Example two: I like to believe that I make informed betting decisions with the aid of video replays of past races. Let's see now, if I go to Del Mar's website, I can instantly look at any race I choose or enjoy the nightly replay show via streaming video. So far so good. If I go to the pay service Compurace, I can download (a pain since I'd like to view the races, not download them) the New York Racing Association tracks plus a few others, great for my Saratoga play. A great new pay service is racereplay.com, where one can view replays instantly. Problem solved, right? No, their selection of tracks is incomplete.

I could go on and on. How an industry that professes to want to expand its base could continually disillusion that base and make it actually difficult to do what drives the whole thing, make a bet, is beyond me. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association should be spending more time solving problems like these and less teaching people on their website what an exacta is.

It could be time to find a new hobby because I think it's only going to get worse. See you at Saratoga, could be my last trip.

David Sinisi

Harrisburg, Penn.

Hal's Hope possessed an inspirational power

I lost a friend recently and I feel awful. When I read that the 2000 Florida Derby winner, Hal's Hope, had died, my first reaction was great sadness, followed immediately by immense gratitude.

Every racehorse I have ever known has had the same thing in common: a determined willingness to please us. Hal's Hope did that and much more.

He let the fans know that, yes, the little guy can win against all odds.

He brought out the best in the human spirit when even those he had just vanquished turned and cheered with a tear in their eye.

He validated a talented jockey's star-crossed career.

He made an old man young.

He allowed me, the Crash Davis of announcers, to feel what it's like to be in the show. I will never forget the fans 20-deep surrounding the winner's circle, cheering for a working man's hero, the day he fought back to beat Wayne Lukas and Pat Day with High Yield.

As jockey Roger Velez looked at the crowd and repeatedly yelled, "He's for real," I had to wait because I knew I'd fumble the words.

When a horse or human is great, he instills in those of us who are not a desire to try to be just a little bit better. That's what Hal did for me and most whom he touched. The greats remain so even after they are gone.

Hal's Hope's death makes me feel awful. His life makes me rejoice. If that's not greatness, I don't know what is.

Thanks, Hal. Rest in peace.

Vic Stauffer,

announcer, Gulfstream Park, Hollywood Park, Santa Rosa

CCA Oaks needs cool million, cool medium

Mike Watchmaker's July 24 column on the Coaching Club American Oaks ("Worth repeating: Oaks is too long"), was quite correct in noting that the CCA Oaks has not attracted the best 3-year-old fillies in several runnings since it was restored to 1 1/2 miles. The distance, however, is not the only problem.

First, take the purse. While the CCA Oaks has a purse of $350,000, that is still merely moderate compared with some of the opportunities out there for 3-year old fillies, not the least of which was the new American Oaks on turf at Hollywood Park, with a $500,000 purse. Then there's the Alabama, which at $750,000 is one of the richest opportunities out there for 3-year-old fillies.

Second is the closeness of the CCA Oaks to two sprint stakes, the Test that Watchmaker noted, and the Prioress, run this year on July 6. Both stakes are Grade 1, the same as the CCA Oaks.

Watchmaker's suggestion that the CCA Oaks should be shortened is something that should not happen; it sends the wrong message to breeders and the like.

What the New York Racing Association should do instead is increase the purse of the CCA Oaks to $1 million (same as the Belmont Stakes) and move it to the Wednesday evening the day after baseball's All-Star Game, even if it means moving up the Acorn and Mother Goose to do so.

To pay for an increase to the CCA Oaks purse, NYRA could also cut the purse of the Alabama from $750,000 to $350,000 and the Jim Dandy for colts from $500,000 to $250,000. If winning a Grade 1 stakes event at Saratoga is as important as some think it is, the reduced purses for the Alabama and Jim Dandy should not affect the quality of starters for either race.

As for moving the CCA Oaks, that would assure maximum coverage, since there is little else going on in sports the Wednesday after baseball's All-Star Game. Coupled with a $1 million purse, it would give owners and trainers great incentive to start in the CCA Oaks, and you would likely see every top 3-year old filly in the starting gate for an early-evening running that easily could be on ESPN. The exposure from winning the CCA Oaks in this manner would trump a win in any other race for 3-year-old fillies simply because of the race being the only major sporting event contested that evening.

Walter Parker

Philadelphia

Column's take on DQ held surprising insight

As a persistent critic of Daily Racing Form columnists, I was pleasantly surprised by Dick Jerardi's July 19 column, "Stewards can't be fortune tellers," on the Derby Day disqualification of Snow Ridge. It was a well-written piece, - passionate, but objective - questioning circumstances that certainly bear scrutiny.

This is DRF at its best, informing its readers about meaningful issues it is uniquely positioned to report on, and providing them with thoughtfully justified opinions that help them interpret that information.

I've heard it often: "It's always better to be lucky than good." Snow Ridge supporters got feedback on their handicapping skills, and all of us learned more about how racing luck manifests itself.

Steve Abelove

Lawndale, Calif.

Correction

A July 21 letter to the editor about Point Given misstated his race record against E Dubai. Point Given raced against E Dubai once, as 3-year-olds, defeating him in the 2001 Travers Stakes.