08/01/2002 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor

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Credit card ban in best interest of bank, bettor

As a 27-year gambling fan of horse racing and a subscriber to Youbet, TVG Network, and XpressBet, I must express my disagreement with Andrew Beyer's July 26 column, "Dubious moralism on credit card ban," expressing his strong point of view knocking credit card companies for disallowing gambling transactions.

I love the convenience of being able to make my wagers online when I am unable to go to the track. And my dad, who is nearly 80 and a horseplayer of some 50 years, enjoys being able to make a bet or two and not have to drive out to Hollywood Park and pay admission, parking, and more to place those bets.

While I consider myself a responsible gambler, two or three days a week at the racetrack reveal that there are many people who have difficulty controlling their gambling.

It is just not responsible to finance your gambling with credit cards.

And the banks are not trying to make a moral judgment about gambling, as Beyer implies. They are trying to protect themselves from lawsuits that can occur when "hard luck' gamblers run out of credit and do not want to take responsibility for their own actions.

Youbet's policy of ExpressCash (directly tapping into your checking account funds) is a good one. If you have the money available on account and want to gamble it, go for it.

The federal and state government attitude about allowing the continuation of online gambling is currently uncertain. Let's keep Internet wagering alive by encouraging responsible gambling.

Cathy Vee - Huntington Beach, Calif.

Haskell's purse strings tie track in knots

Aren't million-dollar-purse races such as the Haskell Invitational always financial losers?

Last year the Haskell purse increased to $1.5 million and had six horses go to post. (By the way, where are Touch Tone, This Fleet Is Due, Hero's Tribute, and Jamaican Rum?)

Which would you rather wager on, the Haskell with six wagering interests or a maiden special with a purse of $40,000 and 11 entrants?

How many races with a $40,000 purse would a million bucks provide? That sure would spread the purse money among a lot more local owners and trainers, the people who provide the horses for the entire meet.

Will this year's Haskell look any different from the race just before it, or be more exciting? Isn't it quite possible that the race just before it could offer more value and be more exciting?

Wouldn't 10 races with purses of $100,000 attract large fields and be more profitable to Monmouth Park than one race for $1 million? Wouldn't bettors prefer the 10 races for $100,000 over one race for a million?

A few things are certain: (1) The Haskell Invitational will be a horrendous financial loser; (2) unless the ontrack crowd exceeds 200,000, the entire day will be a financial loser; (3) the Haskell will offer little value to bettors; (4) if the race were never held, purses for the local horseman could be increased; (5) the owners, trainers, and jockeys will be out of state with all the Haskell purse money, stolen from the handle of overnight races during the meet, before post of the last race of the day.

And Monmouth guaranteed War Emblem's people a check, no matter what, to ship their horse. The race would be a flop if he didn't show.

What price a second-tier racetrack is paying for its brief moment upon the stage!

Wendell Corrow - Barkhamsted, Conn.

Maryland should fear repeat of Florida scene

Andrew Beyer's July 28 assessment of Magna Entertainment Corp., particularly their debacle at Gulfstream, was right on the money ("Gulf widens between Magna and fans").

I also found quite fascinating the remark by Jim McAlpine, president of Magna, that "every idiot who criticizes us seems to forget Florida was hugely dependent on the travel market." Well, this idiot visited Gulfstream this past meet for the first time in years and I barely recognized this once-grand racetrack.

My only response to the caustic Mr. McAlpine is that every idiot who has visited a track purchased and "upgraded" by Magna should have grave concern for Laurel and Pimlico's future.

Steve Hochman - Westminster, Md.

New management will bring new blood

I applaud Magna Entertainment Corp.'s investment in Maryland racing. While I am a relatively new and young face to the sport of sings, I believe Magna will turn around the moribund horse racing industry in Maryland.

Over the past year, I have brought my fellow 20-something friends to the track. They, like me, have quickly developed a passion for the sport and the horse. Yet they needed a person or reason to get them involved. If the horse industry wants our business, they need to be as proactive as a Las Vegas casino or Walt Disney World. I believe Magna's, chairman, Frank Stronach, is the only person in the industry who is trying to get my age group involved in racing.

Concerts, slots, and improved facilities sound like a good idea to me. Let's give this man and his innovative programs a chance.

Josh Faber - Washington, D.C.

Stronach will turn out to be state's number one booster

I race my horses at Pimlico and Laurel, and I meet with many owners, trainers, jockeys, and, yes, handicappers. We all think that the best thing that has happened to Maryland racing since Governor Bowie is Frank Stronach!

Stronach has put millions of dollars into our game. All he has gotten from a vocal few is a lot of negative Monday-morning quarterbacking and undeserved abuse.

Maryland can and should be the number-one venue for Thoroughbred racing in America. We have the best farms, the best trainers, and the best Thoroughbreds. Now all we need is the leadership of Frank Stronach and Maryland will be number one again.

Toby Roth - Washington, D.C.

Jump favorites aren't alone in finishing off the board

I thought Dave Litfin's article entitled "How to hit the jackpot without handicapping" (July 27) was way off base. In it, Litfin complained that heavy favorites in entry-level steeplechase allowance races at Saratoga tend to run out of the money, while longshots tend to win.

I guess Litfin was so busy analyzing steeplechasing form that he missed this year's Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, as each of those races was won by one of the longer shots on the board while the favorite finished out of the money. In fact, this is a common situation that occurs in many races throughout the world every day.

Litfin went on to complain about the fact that some of the horses did not finish the steeplechase race run at Saratoga on July 25, but again, this happens in flat races every day throughout the racing world.

Why not complain when even-money favorite La Cat was pulled up and vanned off in the fourth race at Saratoga on July 27 while horses with boxcar odds finished first and second? Or when even-money favorite Quiet Delight dueled a half-mile in a ridiculous 44.39 seconds in an entry-level allowance race at Saratoga on July 29 before fading badly to finish off the board behind three horses with long odds?

As all handicappers know, these events are not restricted to steeplechase races.

Van Cushny - Locust Valley, N.Y