04/29/2010 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


Cup cuts only part of plan including permanent home

Steven Crist's April 25 column, "Cup could use some judicious trimming," was right on the money. In fact, Breeders' Cup's 2-year-old turf races could be cut even to $400,000 and likely still get the same fields. The Turf Sprint could be reduced to $750,000 and Filly and Mare Turf to $1.25 million and be similarly unaffected.

Breeders' Cup can also severely increase its revenue by making its showcase a nighttime event to garner increased handle from Asia and Australia.

And if Breeders' Cup wants a permanent site, there's a move that could benefit regular horsemen as well: Atlantic City Race Course.

Atlantic City is an older track with a lot of history, a 1 1/8-mile main track with a one-mile turf course, but it runs only six days a year to meet New Jersey simulcast requirements. If Breeders' Cup either purchased Atlantic City outright or leased the facility, it could have complete control of how it is set up for a Breeders' Cup and at the same time take pressure off Monmouth Park by perhaps running two meets. For example, in 2011, Atlantic City could stage a 15-day spring meet from mid-April to the start of the Monmouth meet in late May and a 21-day fall meet to follow Monmouth's "Million Dollar" meet. In this scenario, the fall meet would include the Breeders' Cup, while during the regular meets, Breeders' Cup Ltd. could supplement purses by including bonuses for BC nominees in all or selected races, giving horsemen with BC nominees an extra incentive to run at Atlantic City. Such a move might require the juvenile races on dirt to be run at 1 1/8 miles and scrapping the Dirt Mile (a race that while nice is not really needed), but the trade-offs would be more than worth it.

Obviously, a lot of work would need to be done to get Atlantic City in shape to host a Breeders' Cup (or a regular meet), including re-installing lights so Atlantic City could race at night as it once did, but that may turn out to be best for everyone if it were there, on what truly could be a neutral site for the Breeders' Cup, while at the same time help a state that has real problems at the moment.

Walter Parker - Philadelphia

California purses hit by apathy

California purses, in real dollars, have not been as low as they are now for several decades. In California, racing is in free-fall, and alternate racetrack gambling to enhance purses is forbidden by California lawmakers in favor of the Indian casinos.

The reason is that none of the powers that be particularly cares.

Not the State of California, which is so obscenely over-leveraged that its voracious need for tax revenue makes the vig it takes from racing about as satisfying as a tiny hors d'oeuvre rather than a banquet is to a starving man.

Not the major tracks. The owner of Hollywood Park bought it to shut it down and parcel it out, and would have done already but for the real estate bust. Santa Anita is owned by a bankrupt eccentricity of a company, and Del Mar is a nonprofit entity owned by the state, which exploits the fairgrounds year-round for more lucrative uses.

Not the owners. It's easy to go to where the money is, and the money will be somewhere, just not in the Golden State. Capitalists tend to do things like adapt to changing circumstances.

That leaves our trainers, jockeys, and the other workers in the business to do the caring. But like workers in other obsolete industries, they are powerless to do anything but suffer, relocate elsewhere, or retrain, perhaps as dealers for Indian casinos.

The bettors themselves don't seem to care. Except for a Breeders' Cup every few years, ontrack handle is minuscule. The bet windows for Belmont, Ascot, Meydan, and Flemington are the same distance in the offtrack facility as the one for Santa Anita. Without a competitive purse structure to compensate for inflated California expenses, that magnificent, grand, opulently retro Turf Club at Santa Anita may soon become a fond memory.

John L. Rogitz - San Diego

OTB surtax worse than imagined

The April 25 letter to Daily Racing Form "Offtrack surcharge an outmoded tax" pointed out correctly that the "ridiculous 6 percent surcharge" taken by New York City Off-Track Betting Corp, "only drives away bettors." The so-called 6 percent surcharge, however, amounts to a lot more than 6 percent.

The writer pointed out that a payoff of $100, at a non-surcharge facility or at a New York Racing Association track, would be $95 at a regular OTB that takes a surcharge. It is much worse than that.

A more accurate picture would be that of a bettor who bets $100 to show on a horse who comes in the money and pays $2.30 at the track, a total of $115. That same horse pays $2.10 at a surcharge OTB, or a total of $105.

The OTB confiscates $10 of $15 potentially won by the bettor, which is 67 percent of the winnings stolen from the bettor, a far cry from the claim of "surcharge." This occurred twice, in the first and seventh races at Aqueduct last Saturday, April 24. Losing 20 percent or 30 percent of one's winnings at OTB can be common.

Such usury and deception is reason enough for OTB to be eliminated in 2010 to protect the betting public.

Alan Hirsch - Port Washington, N.Y.

Hall nominations have notable lack

Here we go again. Another list of Hall of Fame nominees comes out ("Azeri gets first crack at Hall of Fame honors," April 28), and in the trainer category there's no mention of Billy Turner or Jose Martin.

No knock on Gary Jones or Robert Wheeler, but I think the Hall of Fame nominating committee needs to take a closer look at the stats here. Jose Martin trained three champions. Billy Turner trained a Triple Crown winner. Let's put the stats of the four of them on a table and compare. Is it politics or ignorance? Makes one wonder.

Anthony A. Stabile - Hummelstown, Pa.