05/07/2010 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor


$900K Derby score just the ticket to lure newcomers

As disappointing as this year's Kentucky Derby was for purists who don't like to see a classic decided on an off track, it might be a pleasant harbinger of things to come, because it turned out to be the "people's Derby," in so many positive ways.

Indeed, the spectre of contest-winner Glen Fullerton wagering his $100,000 free bet on Super Saver's muddy nose, and then cashing for $900,000 two minutes later, probably has done more good for horse racing than any one marketing gimmick over the past 30 years.

Dispensing large purses to the few has never done much for the many, on whom horse racing depends. So let's hope that those in charge of promoting our great sport heed this and the fact that for the first time ever Joe Fan took center stage.

Just think: If this were promoted properly to mainstream America via Yum Brands restaurants or even Walmart (who should now sponsor this year's Derby winner), the potential positive exposure for racing and the ultimate prize could be unlimited.

Robin Dawson - Toronto

Lower exotic units can make converts

My thanks to Steve Crist for showing, on his "Inside Post" drf.com blog, the comparative Kentucky Derby Day handle numbers from 2009 and 2010. The figures clearly show that 21st century bettors want to play the multirace exotics more than ever before, and that straight win, place, and show wagers continue to decline in popularity. This represents a great opportunity for a revival of the sport if industry moguls (and the necessary legislators) can cooperate to make some relatively simple changes. Reducing the takeout on win, place, and show wagers offers some hope for increasing handle in that area, but the greatest potential is for universal adoption of $1 daily doubles, pick three, pick four, pick five, and pick six wagers. Rolling doubles and pick threes at every track offer great possibilities for all parties concerned. Offering 10-cent wagers on the wilder exotics makes increasingly greater sense.

Not only would such moves significantly increase the handle, but they also would encourage casual race fans to spend more time at the track (consuming more hot dogs, beer, and pretzels) and potentially becoming serious fans. Tapping out after the fifth race because of (relatively) expensive wagers does not encourage repeat attendance, or even hanging around for the late daily double. Casual fans can become devoted fans if a full day at the track (or offtrack betting parlor) is both fun and within their means.

Jerry D. Wallace - Indianapolis

Derby provided Christmas in springtime

We just enjoyed our first Derby "season" as new members of the commonwealth of Kentucky.

The excitement started two or three weeks before the Kentucky Derby. Everyone was talking about horses - at food stores, coffee shops, and at work.

Louisville had many celebrations, starting with "Thunder Over Louisville," an all-day air show with huge fireworks at the end of the day along the Ohio River. Then the horses began arriving in town. The local television stations covered everything and set up at the track, providing coverage of all aspects of the celebrations.

And there were women at the track! Young women, dressed to the nines. Families and friends gathered in groups like a yearly family reunion.

We went to Keeneland. We reserved a table in one of the dining rooms there. We had a fine dinner and sat amazed at the crowd and enthusiasm that was around us. (We also had picked the 4-2, which made it that much better.)

Next year we are going to Churchill Downs itself for the full experience. We would recommend to everyone outside this state to come down and feel the difference.

Ray and Carol Davis - Nicholasville, Ky.