06/24/2010 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


International feats make Hall the spot for Asmussen

As one who is very tough and critical of many jockeys yet very respectful of their profession, I strongly endorse Bill Christine's suggestion in the June 19 DRF Weekend ("Monitoring the Hall") that Cash Asmussen be inducted into racing's Hall of Fame. It is long overdue.

I watched Asmussen's career closely over a number of years, both in America and in Europe, and few if any have achieved what he accomplished. He won the Eclipse Award as top apprentice, he has won the Arlington Million (twice), the Breeders' Cup Mile, the Arc de Triomphe, and was five times the champion rider in France.

The number of jockeys who have been as successful in both the United States and Europe can be counted on one hand, and yet Asmussen not only had that success but did it as a real ambassador for our country. We should proudly honor his achievements by giving him what he has earned: entry into the Hall of Fame.

Dennis Metter - Chicago

Rachel's path a winning one

Well, it is a relief to know that Rachel Alexandra is back to her old self, finally ("Rachel back in winner's circle," June 14). Even though it took three attempts for her first win in 2010, her connections can be encouraged and commence plotting a series of races for her to show her stuff the remainder of this year.

I assume they will be very careful and select only graded stakes races where the competition is good but not the absolute tops, as they chose to do last year. Of course, this strategy brought Rachel Horse of the Year honors last year. Maybe they can pull it off again.

Steve Richards - Huntington Beach, Calif.

Keep juveniles out of starting gate

With the Triple Crown behind us for another year, one can only look back with regret at the absence of Eskendereya, whose dominant victories in the Fountain of Youth and Wood Memorial made him the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby, but whose leg injury kept him from the race and soon caused his retirement.

Such sad and disturbing news has played out many times over the years and is customarily treated as one of the hazards of the sport. I submit that this is not so and that a solution exists that has been ignored by the Thoroughbred industry.

My purpose is to suggest that these frequent breakdowns of 3-year-old colts preparing to run in the Kentucky Derby are caused by improper training methods and patterns that have been allowed to continue without challenge.

The point is this: A 2-year-old colt should not run in a competitive race. There should be no competitive racing of a Thoroughbred until he or she is at least 3 years old. Moreover, the Kentucky Derby should be rescheduled to take place on the first Saturday of July of each year, giving a trainer six months to get his colt properly prepared. Four preparatory races could be run in a six-month period.

My reasons follow: Look at the physiognomy of the Thoroughbred. One thousand pounds of flesh over muscle supported by four fragile, spindly legs. The legs of a 2-year-old Thoroughbred are not yet ready for combat. With careful and conservative training of the horse during his second year, his legs could be developed and strengthened by many long gallops. Let the Thoroughbred grow and develop as nature intended. Let it grow into its own body in a natural life cycle, all to the benefit of the sport. The only inconvenience lies in the rescheduling of the Triple Crown races.

Merrill K. Albert - Del Mar, Calif.

Race fans find ills at every turn

As a regular horseplayer for the past 40 years, I would like to express my opinion on why the sport of horse racing is dying.

I see one of the main reasons being the cost of walking through the gates. We pay for parking, admission (I go clubhouse), program, the Racing Form. At this point we have yet to make a wager and are into the game for as much as $20. Then the price of food and beverage is outrageous, especially for the quality, or lack thereof.

Another reason is lack of advertisement, yet when there is advertisement it is about who is running against whom, like Zenyatta vs. Rachel Alexandra. People who know nothing about horse racing are not going to join in because of who is running. The lottery advertises how much was won on a winning ticket. Racing's advertising should follow suit in some form.

Another main reason for the sport's slump is that management seemingly couldn't care less about the customer. Gambling on horses is the only business I know of where the customer is totally ignored, yet we keep coming back. Try going to a restaurant and get ignored in the same fashion and see if you return.

And last but not least, let's get some unity in this industry. There are synthetic tracks here, natural dirt there, an overabundance of different organizations representing breeders, owners, and trainers, etc. Wake up people, before it's too late, you are destroying a sport that has been around for centuries.

Larry Anderson - Whittier, Calif.