05/08/2009 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor


Owner steps up to defend Mullins as a racing good guy

I write to you in response to Andrew Beyer's column titled "Not the face horse racing needs" that ran on drf.com April 30.

Beyer wrote about Big Brown and Rick Dutrow becoming the face of horse racing. He goes on to speak about steroid use and how it fueled a national outcry about how Thoroughbred racehorses are treated. He opens the next paragraph with "Meet Jeff Mullins. . . ." He goes on to say that Mullins is "taciturn and guarded."

It is my understanding that Beyer hasn't attempted to speak with Jeff since Buddy Gil ran in the Kentucky Derby in 2003. I have also been told that Beyer didn't even attend this year's Kentucky Derby. How could he possibly call Jeff taciturn and guarded?

Taciturn and guarded? Jeff attended three press conferences last week at Churchill Downs and stayed at each one until all questions from the media were answered. In addition to the press conferences, he met with as many media as his busy training schedule would allow.

Let me introduce you to the Jeff Mullins I know. I have known Jeff since 2002. He has been the trainer of my racehorses since 2006, and I have have had approximately 15-20 horses in training with Jeff over the last few years. The care and decisions he has made on behalf of my horses has never fallen short of doing anything but what was in the best interest of their well-being. He has always conducted himself as a true professional and is one of the hardest working people I know.

Our horse, I Want Revenge was the morning-line favorite going into this year's Derby. I received a call from Jeff in the early hours of Derby morning telling me I needed to get dressed and get down to the barn immediately. When I arrived Jeff was waiting for me with Dr. Larry Bramlage and Dr. Foster Northrop. Jeff explained to me that when doing a routine check of his horses early that morning he found a little filling in the colt's ankle. He said although the colt jogged sound, he was quite concerned about where it was coming from and asked Dr. Bramlage to X-ray the colt. The X-ray was negative, but the colt was sensitive to flexion (bending).

As heart-wrenching of a decision as it was to scratch the horse in the Kentucky Derby, there was no doubt in Jeff's mind this was the only option and the right thing to do. I agreed and have since been told that Jeff's swift action and our decision to scratch the horse from the Derby may have well saved his life.

Mr. Beyer, this is the face that horse racing needs.

David J. Lanzman - Beverly Hills, Calif.

Mine That Bird earned our respect

I have been listening to a huge number of people in the horse racing industry making fun of the Kentucky Derby winner and mocking his connections. How can anyone make fun of a poor horse who puts his life on the line every day for our pleasure? How dare everyone think the Derby can only be won with a $3.7 million purchase or hotshot connections.

The bottom line is that the Derby was won by the best horse and smartest jockey on the day. I did not have Mine That Bird on any of my tickets, but regardless of unknown connections, Beyer Speed Figures, and losing at Sunland Park, he and Calvin Borel ran a hell of a race. You can say it was the muddy track all you want, but the rail was there for anyone to take, so congratulations to all the connections of Mine That Bird, and especially to Mine That Bird himself.

Jeannine Rinaldi - Las Vegas

Borel's savvy made Derby difference

I think if Calvin Borel had ridden several of the other horses in this year's Kentucky Derby (e.g. Pioneerof the Nile), the same way as he rode Mine That Bird, those horses would have won, too.

I don't think the best horse necessarily won - the smartest rider won. Borel said after the race that you have to be easy on 3-year-olds. They can only go so far so fast. The trainer told him to go easy early. So going easy early and being back 22 lengths really paid off later in the race. This tortoise beat the hares.

Trainers and jockeys may want to reevaluate how they run this race next year.

Fred Niedermeyer - Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

May's first Saturday special all over

The 45th anniversary of Northern Dancer's historic Kentucky Derby win at Churchill Downs in record time under the legendary Bill Hartack has always been a focal point in Canadian horse racing history.

This year, Canadians got to watch the 2008 Canadian 2-year-old champion, Mine That Bird, conquer the 135th Kentucky Derby under jockey Calvin Borel, who is elevating himself towards that pinnacle reserved for jockey legends like Hartack, Eddie Arcaro, and Bill Shoemaker.

Over two days of racing under the Twin Spires, Borel guided Rachel Alexandra to an astounding 20 1/4-length win in the Kentucky Oaks and a day later Mine That Bird to a 6 3/4-length win in the Kentucky Derby.

However lopsided those victories were, Borel's fearless side was evident in the Louisville Distaff Stakes, as Miss Isella bulled her way through at the three-sixteenth pole to ensure another victory.

Borel's creative abilities in horse racing judgment are rare, and only the great ones can find the courage to accomplish these memorable moments.

Canadians will continue to watch, cheer, and appreciate Calvin Borel.

Well north of Churchill Downs, Fort Erie racetrack held its opening day on Derby Day. Congratulations to Ron Davies, owner/ trainer, and Mike Mehak , apprentice jockey, who won the first race of the meet with Fearless Buzz, on another memorable first Saturday in May for Canadian racing.

Anthony Azzopardi - Niagara on the Lake, Ontario

Risky to disrupt Rachel's routine

I was very curious as I read the report that newly purchased Rachel Alexandra had been transferred to Steve Asmussen's barn ("Rachel has rival trainers nervous," May 9). I understand that if you pay millions of dollars for a horse you want your trainer training her, but in my eyes, if Rachel Alexandra's new owners are planning on supplementing her to the Preakness, that seems like an odd time to uproot her whole regimen.

Horses are creatures of habit, and to make that kind of change so close to a huge race for her seems very strange. I suppose, though, if her connections do run her and she gets beat, they already have a built-in excuse.

Rob Clayton - Wilmington, Del.

Smaller bettors outpriced on big day

While looking over the wagering possibilities on Kentucky Oaks and Derby days, I noticed that 10-cent superfectas would not be available. That just shows why this game is on the downslide.

Trying to force patrons to wager more by changing things on the biggest days just shows greed. I had always thought Churchill Downs was a pretty classy operation, but it has shown its true colors: Just get all you can and forget about tomorrow.

I'm a regular player and support them all year long during the lean times, and they turn and bite the hand that feeds them. I may be naive, but I just don't get it.

I hope others speak up and get the message out to the people who are in charge of all racetracks, as they continue doing their best to drive all the smaller players out of the game.

John Seminaro - Edgewater, Fla.