04/15/2010 11:00PM

Letters to the editor

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Trainer's criticism lacked a concern for key element

I just read the April 14 article "Tony Dutrow hot over Prado's ride in Comely," telling how Dutrow's so angry at jockey Edgar Prado he'll never use him again. I wonder how many pats on the back Prado would have received had he gotten through and won the race.

We see this all the time and have heard elite riders say time and time again: If you get through on the rail, you're a hero, if not, the goat. Fernando Jara did close up really quickly with his mount and Prado's horsemanship kept him and the horse from serious injury. I heard nothing about that scenario from Dutrow. Had Prado checked and tried to get outside, that probably would have cost him the race.

I appreciate Dutrow's concern for his horse, but his concern for a human being who could have been seriously injured seems to be lacking. He went over the top in lashing out at Prado, and as far as I'm concerned the stewards support Prado.

I wonder how Calvin Borel won the Kentucky Derby last year?

John Linthicum - Pompano Beach, Fla.

Comely remarks unseemly in nature

I read with derision the article "Tony Dutrow hot over Prado's ride in Comely" and felt compelled to write.

Two years ago we were forced to listen to and read about Dutrow's loquacious brother Rick, but even he stopped short of publicly berating Kent Desormeaux for his ride after the Big Brown debacle in the 2008 Belmont. At that point he would have been allowed, since he had proven himself an adept trainer, in the Mid-Atlantic ranks and in the big leagues. He had earned the right. Tony Dutrow, on the other hand, has not earned the right to berate publicly anyone like he has.

Prado has proven himself a very capable rider and a gentleman in his profession. He has ridden in the big leagues for many years and been entrusted with many more quality and expensive horses than Tony Dutrow has even been near. As a matter of fact, I would go even as far as to criticize Prado for his overly careful rides of late. I have at times been disappointed because I sensed a lack of aggressiveness in his riding. Where risky riding and endangerment is concerned, Prado is not on that list.

Dutrow has threatened "no more rides" for Prado: Ha, ha. How many graded-stakes horses has Prado ridden for him the last five years? Prado has won millions in purses, and I would bet that not even 5 percent of his earnings came from Tony Dutrow-trained horses.

Dutrow should open his mouth in public only once more, and that is to apologize emphatically to Prado.

James Russell - Reidsville, N.C.

Blue Grass lacking its old quality

Stately Victor's victory in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland last weekend was impressive, and there is little doubt that he is a quality Thoroughbred. Reviewing the race a bit more closely, however, leaves the questions of the value of his victory and the rapidly diminishing stature of the Blue Grass.

Chances are, Stately Victor will not win the Kentucky Derby. In fact, based on the recent history of Blue Grass Stakes runners, he will flounder home on the first Saturday in May. The last Blue Grass winner to win the Derby was Strike the Gold in 1991.

That's not to say it has been completely useless. Street Sense used it as a valuable prep en route to Derby in 2007, and Prairie Bayou won the Preakness after winning the Blue Grass. But little else has come out of the Blue Grass lately. In the past five years, the best Kentucky Derby finish by a Blue Grass winner is 10th, that coming last year by General Quarters. Additionally, the majority of the Blue Grass winners of the last 10 years have accomplished little after the race.

What is the reason for this? I think there are many reasons, but the main ones are the oddities of Keeneland's synthetic Polytrack surface, and really, the lack of top 3-year-olds who use the race as a prep. There are always good, solid horses who race in the Blue Grass, but most often, as was the case this year, the 3-year-olds who have come into the race with buzz surrounding them have failed to fire.

This is where Keeneland's Polytrack plays a role. The surface is quirky, slow, and really a bad gauge of how good a horse really is. It has proven unpredictable as to what kinds of horses perform well and what kinds don't. And the Blue Grass isn't the only race feeling the effect. The Ashland, Spinster, Breeders' Futurity, and the Ben Ali have produced some okay horses in recent years, but nothing memorable who the average fan could recollect.

This trend will only continue, I fear. Unless Keeneland does something to alter the track surface, or maybe changing the Blue Grass to four or five weeks before the Kentucky Derby, I feel like the Blue Grass is headed for horse racing obscurity.

Ben Garner - Brooklyn, N.Y.

Graphic reminder an 'L' of a difference

I was reading the past performances for Personal Ensign, and their old format took me down memory lane ("Unbeaten Personal Ensign dies at 16," April 11). One immediately notices the lack of Beyer Speed Figures and other amenities of the current Racing Form.

Something else looked different, and I couldn't put my finger on it at first. Then I noticed it was the absence of the "L" for Lasix, ubiquitous in today's past performances. Personal Ensign's campaign of 1987 - four starts in six weeks - probably couldn't happen to a Grade 1 horse today, in the era of the L.

Mark Leaver - Lexington, Ky.