11/21/2008 1:00AM

Letters to the Editor


Florida bettor sees account-wagering impasse as start of bitter winter

Congratulations to Tom O'Donnell, a longtime casino executive, on being named Calder Race Course's new president and general manager (Nov. 15). Now it's time to get busy.

The Tropical at Calder meet has traditionally drawn many top jockeys from up north, especially after Thanksgiving. But the inability of the Calder administration to reach an agreement with the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association for an account-wagering contract has resulted in no Internet betting via Twinspires.com and Television Games Network. This, in turn, has resulted in lower purses, hurt feelings, and lots of upset fans unable to bet Calder online. And with lower purses the top jocks will be sure to stay away.

Calder has a lot at stake here. Many bettors feel that the horsemen are way out of line, as they should stick to training and not interfere with the track's business, but greed seems to be the theme of this decade, and we are stuck with this quandary. It has got to be resolved.

I would give the horsemen an ultimatum: Sign an agreement or the track will shut down and the stables close - period. Let them go somewhere else. I would also lobby other tracks to take the same stance.

Calder needs a long-term agreement - say five years - not just one for the rest of this meet. Calder must protect the bettor, who makes possible its operation and the livelihoods of its entire staff.

If online bettors cannot bet the races we choose, then horsemen should not be able to race. Someone must take charge and make a stand.

Jerry Pinault - Miami

Horsemen's stance also hurts California product

I object to the action of not just the Thoroughbred Owners of California - as described in the Oct. 31 article "Hollywood signal limited and purses cut again," as well as the Nov. 2 "Account blackout spreads" - but other organizations across the country in their attempts to leverage account-wagering companies at the expense of the horseplayer.

Regardless of the goals of these groups representing horsemen's interests in several states, it is the horseplayer who bears the brunt of their actions. If these organizations continue to take these actions, they will simply destroy the support of the people who pay the freight and keep the sport going - the gamblers.

I have been following and betting the horses for more years than I care to remember, but I am thoroughly disgusted by and fed up with the organizations running the business. I have made the decision to stop betting on California races through account-wagering companies while the Thoroughbred Owners of California continues its campaign.

Carl Johnson - San Jose, Calif.

Editor's note: On Friday, Nov. 21, the Thoroughbred Owners of California reached a one-year agreement with the four national account-wagering companies that allowed betting to resume.