12/03/2010 6:44PM

Letters to the Editor

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NYRA chief calls cancellation the logical call

Mike Watchmaker's recent drf.com blog entry titled "NYRA's Quick Hook," raised a number of questions about how the New York Racing Association makes management decisions on when to cancel live racing.

Foremost in our minds is the safety of the horses and the jockeys, the condition of the racetrack, and the interests and concerns of our customers.

Whenever the potential for bad weather exists, we schedule early-morning conference calls comprising senior management from various departments, including track maintenance, mutuels, simulcasting, security, and communications.

These meetings are informed by three state-of-the-art weather services that NYRA subscribes to, and if obvious conditions exist that would create a dangerous racing environment for the horses and jockeys, we will cancel live racing for the day.

This past Wednesday, the day referenced by Mr. Watchmaker, our three weather services predicted a treacherous mix of heavy rains and wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour at the same time we would be conducting live racing.

Using these forecasts, it was an easy decision to cancel the races at Aqueduct for the safety of the horses and jockeys. In addition, it is necessary for us to make these decisions in the morning to create the least possible inconvenience for track patrons who might be planning to attend the races. ­Occasionally we make cancellation decisions the night before, but at the latest we try to decide by 7 a.m.

The forecasts proved correct, as Aqueduct was subjected to heavy rains and wind gusts topping out at 57 mph, causing property damage that included fallen trees in the backstretch and blown-out windows in the press lounge.

I hope this helps to demonstrate some of the factors that go into and aid us in determining when to make decisions regarding the cancellation of live racing.

Charles Hayward, President and CEO
The New York Racing Association, Inc.

Zenyatta a victim of double standard

You know what really cooks my goose is that Zenyatta probably will not get the Horse of the Year honor that she deserves.

In 2008 she went undefeated, winning the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, but wait a minute, Curlin lost the BC Classic, so let's give him the top award. In 2009, Zenyatta went undefeated once again, won the BC Classic, but wait a minute, Rachel
Alexandra didn't even show up for the Breeders' Cup because it wasn't on dirt, let's give it to her.

It's as if none of her victories counted because they were run on synthetic. If it was run on her home turf, she got criticized for it. Here in 2010 she won all but one race, losing the Classic by inches. It was probably the best race she ever ran.
Everyone is saying she lost ­because it was on dirt. I would argue that neither a rival horse nor the dirt beat her -- it was the traffic she had to weave through. Blame won the Classic on his home turf, but is he being criticized? No.

Many say dirt horses cannot run well on synthetic. Zenyatta proved that she could win on both. How many of the horses who ran in this year's Breeders' Cup can have that said about them?

Look at all the fans Zenyatta brought to horse racing. Believe me, next year there will not be all that buzz about horse racing with her retired. It's no wonder racing cannot keep fans when people see an injustice like this lack of recognition given this great mare.

Zenyatta is the people's horse, like Secretariat was in his formidable years.

Dolly Inman - Frankfort, Ky.