08/21/2008 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


California board owes the public fuller disclosure

The Aug. 21 article "Racing board investigators raid Sadler barn," on the California Horse Racing Board's interest in trainer John Sadler's barn was very interesting, but there are many questions that linger.

Why is it so difficult for racing officials to name the trainers who are multiple repeat offenders when doping horses is the issue? According to the article, 17 of 38 steroid violations reported in July were with one trainer. Eleven of the violations were by another trainer.

It sounded like one of those trainers is John Sadler. Who is the other? Which other trainers are on the list? Which two trainers have received "multiple, multiple, multiple letters?" What other violations besides steroids have been reported during the same period?

Why are the names and reputations of these trainers being protected when they obviously have no respect for the rules of the game or their peers, some of whom whom are trying to compete honestly?

Isn't it time to send some of these prople off to another career? They would soon be forgotten and missed by very few fans of the sport.

Bill Stevenson - Carson City, Nev.

Calder stewards contradict logic

So jockey Paco Lopez was suspended 30 days for careless riding, a day after the race was declared official ("Lopez given long suspension," Aug. 15) by Calder stewards. No inquiry and no objections the day of the race. What a joke.

I did not have any betting interest in this race, but I find it wrong that the betting public takes a hit to the pocketbook as stewards earn their paychecks. If the infraction was that great to get a 30-day suspension, then what were the stewards doing during the race?

And how did those stewards feel that "the incident did not affect the outcome of the race," as the article quoted? If Lopez's horse interfered with or caused another horse and rider to take defensive action, how do the stewards know that this did not cause a different outcome?

The stewards did not want to penalize the owner, trainer, or the bettors who wagered on the winner. What about the owner, trainers, and bettors connected with the second- and third-place horses? Stewards can not concern themselves with any one camp. Their job is to see that a race is run in a fair and competitive way.

If there is an infraction of the rules that justifies the suspension of a jockey, then a horse should be taken down. This will make trainers think twice before choosing a jockey for a mount. If a jockey can not get riding assignments because of his actions, then maybe this will change the way he rides.

This incident calls for a national board of stewards to review such incidents. The stewards should have to be accountable for their actions as well.

John Vendetti - La Vista, Neb.

Bay Meadows folks a family dispersed

Bay Meadows is now gone forever, and despite everything that has been written, I don't think it has really gotten its due.

Most of the last 36 years of my 40-year career on the racetrack with Daily Racing Form and Equibase have included Bay Meadows, and I will miss it like I miss my best dog. But not because of the great racing history that the track has had. I will miss it because of the biggest treasure of all. - the "family" history.

Obviously, I was not around when Bill Kyne opened the track in 1934. Back then it housed many of the greatest racing stables in history. So many of the greatest horsemen, riders, and horses came through the stable gates at Bay Meadows. But the biggest treasure of Bay Meadows was its employees.

From what I have been told, "family" was the atmosphere during the Kyne years. It was only enhanced when Bob Gunderson (Kyne's son-in-law) took over in the early 70's and I had the pleasure of experiencing that atmosphere. Thankfully, after Gunderson left, the attitude under Jim Conn and Jack Liebau did not change.

I have great memories of the backstretch from the 1970's - the R.L Martins, the Bike Hixons, the Charlie Comiskeys, the Olen Battleses, not to mention Don Porter and Bob Hess, as well as hundreds of other horseman who will be forgotten with the closing of Bay Meadows but who were so important to the sport.

And I have great memories of my domain, the press box. Never a better one in horse racing. Everyone was invited and everyone showed up. Can you even imagine walking into the box and seeing Joe DiMaggio sitting there? And he hardly compared with the cast of characters that comprised the press box on a daily basis at Bay Meadows.

All of those memories aside, I walked through the ancient racetrack during its final days, and all I saw were people who had worked there since the day I first showed up, people I knew personally for the entire 36 years. I doubt any track in America can say they have so many loyal employees as the "Friendliest Racetrack in America." And I'm going to miss every single one of them.

Darryl Hove - Redwood Shores, Calif.

Umbrage of owners amuses yet angers

I read with amusement the righteous indignation Gary and Cecil Barber feel, since the California Horse Racing Board finally showed some resolve ("Owners angered by Shapiro's comments," Aug. 22).

The Barbers seem to imply their sterling reputations were impugned by statements of the board's chairman, Richard Shapiro, and Rick Arthur, its equine medical director, in associating them with the blatant disregard trainer John Sadler and some others may have for the rules of racing. Implementation of the Sept. 4, 2008, steroid ban has nothing to do with the fact that the racing establishment prohibits the use of anabolic steroids before this date. Sept. 4 is only the date penalties will be implemented.

The problem here is some owners who seem to gravitate to trainers who lack the ethics to keep horse racing a viable industry. These owners and trainers seem to think they are bigger than the game. Maybe they are. If so, racing is doomed. Our only hope is that the watchdogs of the sport maintain their newfound desire to clean up the game.

Sandy Weinstock - Sherman Oaks, Calif.