08/22/2002 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor

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The mindset at Monmouth disses bettors

Recent events at Monmouth Park perfectly demonstrated just how little regard track officials have for their customers. Twice in four days, races scheduled to be run on the turf were switched to the main track, but in both cases track management failed to make the switch until after the pick four had commenced. On at least one of the days, Sunday, management knew that the races would come off the turf at least 15 minutes before the start of the pick four. Yet instead of announcing the switch, officials decided to go into the jocks' room to try to convince them to change their minds regarding the safety of the turf course ("A messy surface switch," Aug. 21). Why in the world would management ask riders to compete over a course deemed unsafe?

Just as damning was not announcing the switch before the close of pick four wagering was management's willingness to mislead and otherwise ignore its customers. On Thursday, the reason given for the cancellation of turf racing was that the turf chute leading on to the main course was supposedly over-watered during the night. Three days later the reason provided was a soft spot at the top of the lane. In both instances, customers found out only the next day in the papers why the races had been switched. Why wasn't track management on the video monitors explaining what had happened? Bob Kulina, Monmouth Park's general manager, surely wasn't media-shy when he was gallivanting around with Bob Baffert on Haskell Day. Would it have troubled him so greatly to take two minutes for an on-camera interview to explain to customers what had happened?

This abysmal performance by senior officials at Monmouth Park is entirely consistent with the overall mismanagement of racing in New Jersey over the past decade. While the potential for revenue for the tracks, the state, and horsemen is limitless, management's stumbling and bumbling ways prevent it from seeing the forest through the trees. Indeed, the aloofness and lack of regard for their customers in general was best summed up by Kulina's comment to The Asbury Park Press after Sunday's fiasco that "the furthest thing from my mind was the pick four."

Next time, get it on your mind, or people like me, tired of being taken for granted, will invest our dollars elsewhere.

Cedric Barlow - Red Bank, N.J.

Race book fan decries information deprivation

In his July 28 column, "Race books look to stem tide of decreased business," Richard Eng outlined some of the problems faced by Nevada bookmakers, with the result being that since 1996 wagering handle has risen nationally but declined in Nevada.

The problems described in the column were all quite valid, but one that I experienced was not addressed. It involves professional players, the use of computers, and a state law that prohibits "two-way communication devices" in the race books.

I visit Las Vegas often, and on a recent trip, I was asked by security at the Rio Hotel and Casino to leave the race book. The reason was because of my use of a laptop computer. As a professional player, I find my computer is indispensable in handicapping the races. Upon complaining to the race book manager, I was told that the Rio would be very happy for me to bet horses there, but the computer can not be used because of state law. Although my computer does not have wireless technology, some computers and PDA's can access the Internet or send text messages, thereby constituting a "two-way communication device."

Before this happened, I had spent four days betting at Harrah's race book. They had no problem with my computer. In fact, I was even comped. Oddly, the Rio and Harrah's are owned by the same company.

Because of the size of the bets, professional players definitely attract attention. And some of us need our computers to handicap. If we are asked to leave the race book, it will certainly affect their bottom line. The Nevada race books need to see about having the law against two-way communication devices changed. It will take a lot of two-dollar players to make up for one pro.

Jack Davis - Pomona, Calif.

Del Mar praised as best of neighbors

Three cheers to the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. This is a long-overdue thank-you to all the wonderful folks at DMTC for all the generous support they give to the community of Del Mar. It is widely known that the Thoroughbred Club is one of the Del Mar Foundation's generous financial supporters, but they also are contributors to the community in so many more ways also.

For instance, I recently had the privilege of working with T. Pat Stubbs, the club's director of corporate development, and his associates on the joint Del Mar Foundation/DMTC project "Payasada - Horseplay Del Mar 2002." This project brought together public art, horses, and philanthropy. New York may have cows, Seattle has pigs, but Del Mar has horses. We all worked very hard, learned a great deal about fiberglass horses, artists, auctions, etc., and even made some money to give back to the community.

But this was not the only collaboration the Del Mar Foundation has had with the staff at the Thoroughbred Club. When the Cultural Arts Committee was getting off the ground in winter 2000, it was the DMTC who stepped right up to the plate with the much-needed staging for our monthly "First Thursdays" Series. Hats off to Leon Davis and his crew who drop off and pick up staging on the first Thursday of every month.

In addition, Joe Harper, president of The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, has agreed to graciously give his time and be one of our featured speakers in this fall's sold-out First Thursdays lecture series. He will be sharing his childhood memories of growing up in Hollywood as the grandson of Cecil B. DeMille along with great stories from the world of horse racing.

I guess what I am trying to say is that it is so nice to have such a caring and responsible corporate partner in all that we are doing to bring good things to Del Mar. Here's to a terrific Pacific Classic weekend here where "the turf meets the surf."

Lynn Gaylord, Chairwoman, Cultural Arts Committee, Del Mar Foundation

For a betting choice, four legs better than two

Just hang around a race track or simulcast facility and listen to fellow fans bring their investments down the stretch: "Come on, McCarron." "Out-ride 'em, Laffit." "Go Pat Day, you're the king of Churchill."

Sound familiar? I understand that it is probably human nature to shout out to the human element, but fans as a whole still believe the jockey is the primary reason for success or failure in a race. While a small part of this is true, the reason a particular horse performs to a particular level is mainly owed to the ability of that horse. Yet time and time again the rider gets the credit or blame.

Can a jockey can ultimately win or lose a race? Yes. If the horse doesn't have ability, though, he won't be close in the first place.

Ever notice how every bettor at the track can tell you just how a jockey screwed up, and what they would have done to win the race. Ask someone at the track their selection in a particular race. You will probably get "I like Bailey; he's due." "I don't like Nakatani this race, he's not riding good today."

Trash that malarkey. Is he on a horse you think can win? That is the $64,000 question.

Notice to fans: Have faith in the horse under the saddle cloth more than the rider on top of it. If for some reason a sport called jockey racing is invented, then I would bet on Alex Solis every race. Until that day, however, and as long as it is called horse racing, I am betting horses.

Kenneth Moultry - Pomona, Calif.