06/17/2010 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor

Email

Finger Lakes cuts punish horsemen for OTB misdeeds

Monday, June 14, was a very dark day for Finger Lakes horsemen and horsewomen who depend on purse money to support their families and local farms. On that day, approximately $2 million was cut from the purses at Finger Lakes and four stakes races were canceled. The ultimate result will be a loss of upstate jobs and revenue to surrounding businesses.

So why was the first purse decrease in recent memory necessary? It surely was not the fault of the Finger Lakes horsemen/women who work 12-hour days, seven days a week at a very difficult job for very little financial gain. The fault lies squarely on New York City Off-Track Betting, which over the past years has become the dumping ground for political patronage. A combination of top-heavy management, overblown payrolls and benefits, plush offices, fleets of cars, and much more has led inevitably to bankruptcy of one of, if not the biggest, parimutuel betting operations in the country. Has anyone ever heard of a bookie losing money? Of course, to listen to OTB, everyone else is at fault. Quite some claim from the poster child for financial mismanagement.

Once again the hardworking upstate farms, breeders, trainers, and grooms must suffer the consequences of New York City malfeasance. Sound familiar? Our upstate representatives, including State Sen. Mike Nozzolio and the state's Racing and Wagering Board, chaired by John Sabini, have done their best to help, but Albany has played political football with the breeding and racing industry and in the end may leave it mortally wounded.

OTBs were created to provide tax revenue to local municipalities and support for the racing and breeding industry that once thrived in New York. Now a combination of corporate mismanagement and a lack of political will may leave this once-great industry and the many jobs it supports in shambles. Shame on New York City Off-Track Betting and its management, and shame on Albany for its lack of leadership.

David E. Brown, president, - Finger Lakes Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association

Fan sees Mullins as unjustly rapped

A June 13 letter to Daily Racing Form, "Mullins remarks back to haunt him," was presented as a response to the advertisement headed "The facts about the California Horse racing Board's recent suspension of Jeff Mullins" that appeared in the June 5 Racing Form, yet it contained not one thing about that ad's content or the facts surrounding Mullins's suspension.

It was, in fact, a letter from a horseplayer who got his feelings hurt by something Mullins was quoted as saying almost six years ago. That particular quote was apologized for in a TVG interview in which Mullins said he did not mean to offend anyone, and further, that his quote was intended for T.J. Simers, the interviewer who wrote the piece, an interviewer who anyone who reads the sports section of the Los Angeles Times on a regular basis knows is famous for taking quotes out of context.

Delight Dinopoulos - Los Angeles

Monmouth purses just mad money

Okay, a million dollars a day in purses at this summer's Monmouth Park meet ("Following the millions," May 22). Better horses and bigger fields. When will it start, someone tell me? So far this meet, Monmouth has yet to hold a million-dollar purse day. For example, on Friday, June 11, the purses totaled $440,000, an average of $40,000 per race. The New York Racing Association (which is broke) had just under $350,000 in purses for a nine-race card that day, an average of about $38,000 per race. So where is the money?

As far as fields go, sure the fields are bigger, the purses are so inflated. There are $5,000 claimers running for $30,000 and New Jersey-breds running for $80,000. That is ridiculous. Most New Jersey-breds aren't worth $80,000. The purse structure must be gotten in line, taking the money away from bottom-level horses, have Jersey-breds run for $50,000 (which is still way too much), and the difference put in the stakes program.

Why would anyone venture into a $100,000 stakes race when they can beat up lesser company in an $80,000 allowance race? If you get away from the blanket $100,000 stakes-purse structure and make them $150,000, $200,000, and $250,000, the lure just may be enough for some top-grade horses to come and make the cards worthwhile.

The average patron at Monmouth doesn't care if mules are running, as most of the attendance is in the picnic area, where coolers and beer abound and racing intellect is minimal. But to become a racing bulwark, the track needs to make a mark, and getting name horses is the way. Yes, there are some name trainers stabled at Monmouth, but they don't have their top stock there, and they are still beating up on the poor local talent, taking home most of the less-than-$1 million a day in purses.

Perhaps Monmouth should send a team to see how a racetrack such as Keeneland, which Monmouth seeks to emulate, gets its success. On the comparison with that track, Monmouth is still in "A" ball, far from the major leagues.

Mike Cozzi - Tinton Falls, N.J.