08/30/2001 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


Drug tests earn superb marks; trainer flunks

When the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's Racing Integrity and Drug Testing Task Force released the results from "supertesting," 98.3 percent of 1,272 postrace urine samples showed no presence of substances classified by the Association of Racing Commissioners International as Class 1, 2, or 3 drugs ("Report: Drug testing is effective," Aug 22).

Of the 22 positives, only one was for a Class 1, a narcotic analgesic. Obviously, that indicates a trainer blatantly trying to compromise a race. A lifetime license suspension does not seem unreasonable to me.

As Andrew Beyer pointed out in his Aug. 22 column, "Drug report a step in right direction," some of the substances found "were relatively benign, such as positive tests for clenbuterol." When one removes the "benign" Class 3 findings and the environmental contaminants (caffeine and cocaine) one is left with a clean rate of 99.83 percent. What sport or industry can come close to matching that percentage? None.

While Beyer and Stan Bergstein, in his Aug. 23 "Racing's drug war a high-wire act," both point out that there is still not a test for the Class 2 blood enhancer erythropoietin (EPO) and don't seem generally thrilled by the supertesting results, I would hope that they are as alarmed as I was by Brad Free's Aug. 25 column, "Loose lips sink Sise's best-laid plans."

In it, trainer Cliff Sise is annoyed that inside information on a first-time starter leaked out, leading to her being claimed after she galloped home by six lengths at 7-1. Sise is quoted, "I had her so well-hidden, there was no way anyone could have known anything." Surely as an industry we can't be proud of this kind of subterfuge being foisted upon the wagering public.

Now that it has almost completed the drug-testing part of its mandate, maybe the Racing Integrity and Drug Testing Task Force should look into the integrity portion of its name. And possibly the California Horse Racing Bureau could redeem itself after the Bob Baffert morphine fiasco by investigating and punishing those who defame the integrity of our great sport by blatantly hiding valuable wagering information from the racing public.

Kent H. Stirling, Chairman, Medication Committee - National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association

Without stewardship, bettors will be losers

I have read many letters recently from disgruntled bettors about disqualifications in racing. The consensus seems to be that stewards are unnecessary, and that the order of finish in a race should always stand, regardless of who fouled whom.

Having been on the losing end of a disqualification a time or two myself, I can sympathize, but I shudder to think of the anarchy that would result if these bettors were to get their wish.

The rules regarding rough riding and interference were put into place to protect the betting public, not to penalize them. Just think of how easy it would it be for an unscrupulous gambler to pay off or threaten a rider into taking out another horse if there were no changes in the order of finish as the result. It wouldn't be all that difficult to ensure that the longest shot on the board would be the only horse to get a winning trip.

Mere fines could be easily taken care of out of the gambler's winnings. Where would the honest bettor be then? Crying foul because such rough riding was allowed, no doubt.

Even in an honest race, what of the poor bettor whose money was riding on the horse who got knocked off his feet in the stretch by the eventual winner? I suppose that he isn't entitled to any return on his wager, if he was foolish enough not to gamble on the more aggressive rider, or the most unruly horse.

Perhaps trainers would begin to hire jockeys based not on their skill at riding, but on their ability to keep their mounts on their feet during an altercation, and how accomplished they were at fouling other horses. After all, if purses could be won simply by being the last horse standing at the finish, rather than crossing the line first, who needs riding skill?

No, a race course is not a gentlemen's club, but neither should it be a boxing arena. Horses should win races by running faster than the competition, not by running over them.

Stephanie Frost - Williston, Fla.

Horse's blue name turns fan's face red

With reference to the letter to the editor "What's in a name? No vulgarity, please," of Aug. 26, I, too, was astonished when I first saw the name of the horse Chingasos in the racing program. I couldn't believe my eyes. Every Spanish-speaking person in the world knows what this means. It's the equivalent of a profane English word and I don't mean "sonofa . . ."

As the writer commented in his letter, it is inconceivable that this would not have been checked out by the Jockey Club. I can't tell you the embarrassment I felt seated in the turf club at Golden Gate Fields with my wife and two invited guest as we perused the program. Someone should be taken to task for this . . . foul-up.

Edward J. Grant - Alameda, Calif.

Top-flight rider sometimes lacks class

Jerry Bailey is a terrific Thoroughbred jockey. He consistently shows why he is one of the best when the big money is on the line. He also, however, lacks class at times.

His comments concerning Gary Stevens moving too soon with Congaree in the Jim Dandy were ones he should have kept to himself ("Surprise! Scorpion wins Dandy," Aug 6). Instead of saying how awesome Scorpion ran, he made it a point to take a jab at how Stevens handled Congaree. If I owned Scorpion I would have told Bailey to be quiet.

On Aug. 23 at Saratoga, Bailey threw a temper tantrum because he felt he had been interfered with in the eighth race. Maybe he had been, but Bailey should have stayed calm and let the stewards do their job. Instead, Bailey threw enough of a fit he was fined $500 (Saratoga Notes, Aug. 26). Bailey may be a great jockey but he lacks class a lot of times. You would never see or hear Pat Day act like Bailey frequently does.

Maybe Bailey could get off his high horse and treat people the way he'd like to be treated. He is a great jockey, but many times his comments and actions are ones horse racing doesn't need. I love Thoroughbred racing and own horses myself. One of the things that has always impressed me is the way most jocks handle themselves. There seemingly are few spoiled brats riding Thoroughbreds. Let's keep the spoiled brats in the NBA, the NFL, and MLB.

Here's one fan who wishes Bailey would just ride and keep his comments to himself. Mr. Bailey, when you retire you'll need friends more than you do now. I wonder how many friends you have in the jocks' room?

Marty Grunder - Centerville, Ohio

Memo to D. Wayne: Don't whine

Here we go again.

D. Wayne Lukas didn't like the way his horse Scorpion was ridden, that he was too close to the Travers pace ("Time for division to regroup," Aug 29). Boo hoo.

It was reminiscent of when he felt that he had to trash Chris Antley when they were having a memorial service for him. I think Lukas needs to keep his mouth shut more often. The more he talks, the worse he sounds.

Eugenia Polos - San Francisco