12/05/2008 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor


Wanderin Boy gave the sport his all to the very end

The catastrophic ending to the life of Wanderin Boy ("A difficult day at Aqueduct," Dec. 3) brought to light the courage he displayed for so many years both on and off the racetrack. This racehorse was a valiant competitor, and many facts about his resilience surfaced in the days after his death. When he was just four weeks old, he fractured his sesamoid and was given virtually no chance ever to step into a starting gate. This was just the first of his many struggles that continued over the next 7 1/2 years as he braved through setback after setback. He always came back game, and he always came to race.

I seem to recall Nick Zito saying how Commentator and Wanderin Boy were two of his favorites. It is easy to figure out why this is true of Commentator, but it is now clear why he felt that way about Wanderin Boy. Mr. Zito and owner Arthur Hancock III should always be proud to put a racehorse like Wanderin Boy on the track to compete, for us all to see and root for, but they should both be even more proud of his endurance and ability to overcome everything that came his way - until his final day. He is an example of how much more this game offers us than the ability to make a wager.

As is true of most every horse, Wanderin Boy never achieved greatness as to victories achieved on the track. Instead, his greatness shines in the inspirational story of his life.

Joseph Muzio - Levittown, N.Y.

Dedicated trainer rewards followers

Less than 48 hours after trainer Helen Pitts won the Grade 2 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs (looked like a Grade 1 to me) with Einstein, she had a 3-year-old maiden filly in the opening race of Turfway Park's holiday meet. It was a cold, rainy November Sunday, but many Turfway enthusiasts decided that it would be worth enduring the weather, and a mediocre card, as opposed to cheering on those poor, poor Bengals.

I noticed that Pitts had a $5,000 maiden-claiming filly entered in the first, and suddenly my interest was sparked. The filly, Jea's Girl, was coming off a 15-month layoff. I broke my normal rule of not betting a favorite coming off a long layoff, counting on the fact that Pitts had most likely gone above and beyond the standard with this horse (as she had with Einstein and Curlin), and that this was not one of the "please claim my horse" entries that are becoming the standard with higher-profile trainers in lower-level claiming races.

I was not surprised when Jea's Girl got up with ease, making apprentice rider Brandon Meier look like a seasoned veteran, but I was a bit surprised to see Pitts in the winner's circle. I expected an assistant, as winning the Clark seemed to me like a good excuse to take Thanksgiving Sunday off, but she was there, smiling maybe even more so than with the victory two days before.

Kudos, Helen Pitts. I wish it had been you saddling Curlin on Breeders' Cup Day.

Tony Battaglia-Milner - Erlanger, Ky.