11/29/2002 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor


Rider's actions showed a lack of racing class

I was astonished to read in the Nov. 23 Aqueduct Notes item "Carrero called before stewards" that a New York jockey, Victor Carrero, threw his whip and a clod of dirt at his mount after the horse snapped a leg and broke down past the finish line. I am a bit sorry that the horse just missed falling on Carrero.

If Carrero is that insensitive to the animals who put bread on his table, then I suggest he find another line of work.

This is bad for racing at a time when it can least afford further tarnishing of its image. Imagine if an animal rights group picks up that story.

I applaud the New York Racing Association for the punishment ("A contrite Carrero fined and suspended 15 days," Nov. 24). No suspension or fine can be enough, but kudos to NYRA for spanking him hard.

I was thinking that Carrero should have to spend a day locked in War Emblem's stall when the colt was in a particularly bad mood as suitable punishment, but we can't always get what we want.

Barbara Bowen - Oak Park, Calif.

Cruel gestures another blow to sport's public image

Here in Arizona, we just faced a crushing defeat on a proposition that would have greatly helped our gaming industry. A lot of us campaigned and really tried to get the public to see the good things about gaming. After reading about Victor Carrero and his very cruel behavior in the face of a tragic accident, I can understand why the public is so put off by some of the horse racing they see.

Carol Croft - Chino Valley, Ariz.

Real pick six scam lies in the wager itself

Amid all the hand-wringing about bettor confidence and the integrity of wagering software, no thought is being given to the integrity of the pick six itself: Is it a fair wager or an impossible wager where pure luck, not handicapping skills, determines the winner?

Where are skills, when most bettors play several horses in each race, when only one horse can win each race?

Why do racetracks offer the pick six? To earn the 25 percent takeout, of course. At Arlington Park on Breeders' Cup Day, Churchill Downs Inc. earned over $1 million on a wager that no one won legitimately. Is Churchill Downs going to give back the bucks they virtually stole until winners are declared, or have they invested the abominable 25 percent takeout already?

If the pick six is such a wonderful wager, how come all the expert handicappers from coast to coast didn't win it? Daily Racing Form gave some guy $10,000 to invest in pick six combinations - he lost! Andrew Beyer went into some detail in the Form explaining how to wager a few hundred and win - he lost! All of the Form's astute handicappers lost, as did the prior winners of the National Handicapping Championship, all the current qualifiers for the next championship, and every other hard-core bettor across this country. So did all the event-orientated bettors who played license plate numbers, birthday numbers, or street addresses as their pick six numbers. It seems nothing works.

Isn't it apparent that the pick six is more trouble than it is worth? If it weren't for track management's greed to get their hands on the 25 percent takeout, the bet would never be offered in the first place. When it takes a fix to win, the bet should be eliminated - for integrity's sake.

But, then again, track management has that 25 percent takeout to consider.

Wendell Corrow - Barkhamsted, Conn.

Shuffle New York schedule to clarify championship

The 2002 Breeders' Cup once again was a spectacular day for the sport, and Azeri and Storm Flag Flying both showed they are deserving champions. Volponi's win in the Classic, however, showed one major problem: the lack of a truly major race for older horses after the Breeders' Cup.

In many years, the Breeders' Cup does what it's supposed to do in crowning champions, but there have been several years where an upset, particularly in the Classic, leaves a muddled picture. While several other divisions still have major races remaining that can decide year-end honors, the only Grade 1 non-sprint remaining on dirt for males 3 and up is the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 30. While that race is still important, a mile race on dirt by no means is one to decide Horse of the Year.

This is where the New York Racing Association can help restore the luster of one of its major fall stakes, and at the same time provide a platform for an "instant rematch" of the Breeders' Cup Classic if that race fails to decide matters.

The Jockey Club Gold Cup should be moved to the Saturday before or after Thanksgiving at Aqueduct and lengthened to 1 3/8 miles, with the Woodward returned to late September or early October and returned to 1 1/4 miles, becoming the final major BC Classic prep.

The Cigar Mile, currently run on Thanksgiving weekend, could be returned to its former spot on the schedule in late October or early November (the week before or after the Breeders' Cup), where it can be a consolation prize, if you will, for horses deemed not good enough to run in the Breeders' Cup.

Aside from the Breeders' Cup and Triple Crown events, the Jockey Club Gold Cup is supposed to be the most important race in the sport. While moving it to late November may seem risky to some, the race carries enough importance that trainers would be likely to keep their top stars in training following the Breeders' Cup, especially in a year where there's a major upset in the Classic.

Walter Parker - Philadelphia

Shining examples exist amid current gloom

To quote Donald Sutherland's Oddball character in the movie "Kelly's Heroes," "Stop hitting me with these negative waves, baby."

Although no one can overstate the magnitude of the recent pick six scandal or the importance of rectifying the related issues, it is high time to blow some much-needed fresh air into an otherwise stagnant situation.

I recently spent some vacation time visiting friends in Oklahoma, and while there I was able to visit three entirely different racing facilities, all with a common denominator: respect for the horse fan.

At Blue Ribbon Downs, a Quarter Horse track that may have seen better days, a mutuel clerk actually came to my table with the out-of-town scratches that she had been temporarily unable to provide me moments before. At Remington Park (a track in tough financial straits), I asked if there were any simulcast rooms on-site. The general manager and host both informed me that there were none, but they were kind enough to escort me to a box-seat area with a personal monitor to fulfill my simulcast needs.

I was told how beautiful Lone Star Park is, so I decided to take a drive down to Dallas to see for myself. Aside from how esthetically beautiful it is (after all, it is fairly new), what impressed me most was the fantastic treatment I received. Every employee greeted me with a smile, wished me luck, or told me to have a great day. As I left, I couldn't believe my eyes: employees stationed at the exits thanking everyone for coming! Unbelievable.

Just at a time when I was becoming a little sour on the game, the treatment I received at these racetracks proved to me that if the sport needs to save itself, it can. All it requires is time, effort, and heart.

Kevin Cox - Oceanside, N.Y.