05/14/2009 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


Maryland lacks two key elements of 'boutique' status

In his May 13 column, "One czar's plan to save Maryland," Andrew Beyer promoted the notion of transforming Pimlico to simply a "boutique" meet in the mold of Saratoga, Del Mar, and Keeneland. That plan has two inescapable flaws beyond the poor conditions at Pimlico itself.

First, the other three tracks are in states with year-round racing and a bigger pool of horses to draw from. Shrinking Maryland to a one-month operation may result in horses leaving the state and never returning.

Second, and more problematic, is that the other three tracks are distinct destinations for the casual fan. Saratoga and Del Mar are summer oases and vacation spots, while Keeneland is firmly ingrained into racing culture and Kentucky life. It's very optimistic to think Baltimore can replicate these situations.

Angelo Grasso - Chappaqua, N.Y.

Defense of trainer told a partial tale

I just read the amusing but outrageous May 10 letter to the Racing Form, "Owner steps up to defend Mullins as racing good guy," regarding Jeff Mullins, written by David Lanzman.

The one thing Lanzman failed to mention was the numerous drug infractions Mr. Mullins has had since he has been training for Lanzman. It is obvious that winning is the only thing that counts to some people in racing, and that integrity and honesty do not belong in the sport.

I sadly agree with Lanzman's stated objective: Jeff Mullins is unfortunately the face of racing today.

Sandy Weinstock - Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Another recalls the Mullins touch

The May 10 letter in support of trainer Jeff Mullins rang true to me.

In March 2005 I owned a racehorse named Hesabully, who had just finished fifth in the Baldwin Stakes at Santa Anita. The day after the race I received a call from my trainer, Jeff Mullins, informing me that my horse had an ankle injury and would be unable to race for eight to 10 months

Before the Baldwin, my horse had won two allowance races in a row, so it was very disappointing news. Most people don't realize it takes a lot of luck just to get your horse in the starting gate. I can tell you from experience that Mullins and his stable always put the horse first, and that's why he is one of the very best trainers in our sport.

It's very unfortunate that we will never know what might have been if I Want Revenge had gotten his Kentucky Derby start, but I think it is a sure bet that Jeff Mullins will be back in the Derby. Let's hope the racing gods can be a little more kind next time to a guy who always puts his horses first.

Frankie Ciesielski - New York City

Racing must adapt to changing times

I read with interest Andrew Beyer's April 29 column, "One vision of the future overlooks the racing," addressing Churchill Downs's new vision of its own business. The fact that the company is pursuing profit and diversified earnings should come as no surprise to anyone, since these are things that public companies aspire to.

The current decline of Thoroughbred racing has more to do with ineffective drug policies, the rise of "supertrainers," the confusion about synthetic surfaces, and myopic commercial breeders.

Every industry evolves, and we have to come to terms with the shifting paradigm in our sport. Maybe it's time for Thoroughbred racing to be consolidated and regulated.

If Churchill Downs and other racetrack concerns are more interested in promoting their Internet businesses, then turn the live product over to a centralized authority that divides the country into six main regions consisting of 12 racetracks. Race meets can alternate between two tracks within a given region, with no more than six tracks running at any one time.

The current war against drugs is the wrong battle, against an irreversible trend. Certain drugs need to be permitted, but those individuals who are caught exceeding permitted levels or using banned substances need to be dealt with via harsher, uniform penalties, measures that are strictly enforced.

Racing should reevaluate synthetic surfaces, where some particular products have created a virtual lottery for bettors.

And finally, incentives should be created that would encourage North American breeders to breed horses for classic racing, not solely for a quick profit.

We can either restore this sport to its onetime glory or watch it fade into oblivion. The choice is ours to make.

Anthony Perrotta - Red Bank, N.J.