03/26/2009 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


Magna money woes an unhappy twist to a love story

In regard to the March 7 article "Magna files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy" and Andrew Beyer's March 8 column, "Magna's fall could reshape the industry," as a keen fan of horse racing I am very disappointed that the dreams of Magna Entertainment Corp.'s founder and chairman, Frank Stronach, seem to have run onto the rocks. But the writing was on the wall, and as smart as he may have been to build his auto-parts empire, he has shown himself to be quite the opposite when it comes to racing matters.

From the outset, the Magna chairman challenged the powers that be and has not hired a real racing person to head up his endeavors, preferring corporate minions whose knowledge of our great sport and its fans' needs were found badly lacking.

All I can say is, how sad that someone who obviously loves the sport has failed, and reflect upon the fact that, only because it doesn't actually own any racetracks, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association hasn't met the same fate.

Robin Dawson - Toronto

Champion filly hindered by rider

As a longtime fan I am very perplexed by those I know who are jumping off the bandwagon of Stardom Bound. Yes, she barely won her last start, as noted in the March 11 article "Filly gets reality check," but I have several observations.

As a 2-year-old she was simply much better than her rivals, but it now appears many of them have closed that gap this year. Last year Stardom Bound was able to sacrifice valuable ground loss by swinging six or seven wide and still win.

Not anymore. I blame her close calls on rider error. Mike Smith is still riding her as if she is 10 lengths better than the rest of the field, and she is not anymore. Years ago Smith was possibly America's top jockey before some nasty falls and bad injuries. After watching him closely in thousands of races since his return, I feel he shies away from coming through tight spots inside, preferring to avoid risking injury, trying to loop the field all the time.

Stardom Bound needs a rider who will save some ground, split horses, etc. She is just not good enough to overcome all the extra ground Smith forces her to cover each race. The filly is all heart, and anyone must admire her desire to hit the wire first despite the ridiculously wide trips Smith gives her each time. Mike Smith is also forcing her races to be gut-wrenching, taxing, all-out efforts that I fear will eventually knock this great filly out and cause her to tail off top form shortly. I would consider a rider switch immediately.

Jeff Richardson - Lincoln, Neb.

Intense inbreeding weakens offspring

As a horse racing enthusiast who has been betting on horses seriously for the past seven years, I have long been concerned about the long-term health of the sport.

Initially, I was worried most about the prevalent use of drugs, including anabolic steroids (which are quite possibly not even the tip of the iceberg of drugs being used today).

As I have become more interested in pedigrees, however, I am just as concerned about inbreeding. It is distressful to see the prevalence of inbreeding amongst horses with the Native Dancer/Raise a Native/Mr. Prospector line.

What is most disconcerting is that these three horses sired so many progeny on their own that it is becoming nearly impossible to find horses who do not have multiple connections to each of them. Not to mention Northern Dancer, whose grandfather was Native Dancer, and who was one of the most prolific sires of the last 50 years. In fact, when looking through pedigrees, it is often a relief if you can only find two instances of these four horses. Simple biology dictates that this inbreeding will produce horses who are more prone to breaking down.

I have seen some trainers mention the problem of inbreeding. It has been brought up when incidents like the death of Eight Belles occur, but it has not received anywhere near the attention that the drugs have.

Bottom line: We have been witnessing a weakening of the breed. Forget about the days of seeing Kelsos and Foregos run two miles. Most horses these days are struggling to get seven furlongs, and heaven forbid they should race more than three times in a form cycle.

There should be rules as to the amount of inbreeding a horse can have.

Nathan Mair - Bronx, N.Y.