05/21/2009 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


Preakness held all one could ask and then some

What a race! This year's Preakness, recounted in the May 18 article "Rachel holds off the Derby winner," was everything I was hoping for (except I wanted to see Mine That Bird win).

I watched the race with bated breath. I knew Rachel Alexandra was an extraordinary filly, but I so wanted Mine That Bird to prove he was no flash in the pan. And boy did he ever!

I was honored to catch almost every race his sire ran in person, and have kept an eye on every Birdstone baby I could. Mine That Bird has been on my watch list since last year at Woodbine. I managed to catch all of his races up there, since Woodbine is my home track.

I wish I could say I kept my faith in him once he was transferred to New Mexico, but I was backing Summer Bird as my Birdstone longshot for the Derby.

Now I get to wait another two weeks to see him, hopefully, follow in his sire's footsteps with a Belmont Stakes victory. I got some mighty dirty looks and even ruder comments the day I backed his daddy at Belmont, but that was one horse I knew was born to take that race. Yeah, I didn't want to root against Smarty Jones, but I believed in Birdstone. And I was there for his Travers triumph in the thunder, lightning, and pouring rain.

This year's Belmont Stakes Day will be Mine That Bird's day to shine again. I honestly believe if he had had that little extra distance at Pimlico he might be running for the Triple Crown. Go, Mine That Bird, go.

As an aside, Steve Asmussen, Rachel Alexandra's new trainer, showed himself to be a class act every time he handed credit to Hal Wiggins, the filly's former trainer. In my book that's class. And what can you say for co-owner Jess Jackson? Nothing, except thanks for the memories once again.

Carolyn Beverly Kenney - Ohsweken, Ontario

Geldings have what it takes

Mine That Bird lost out on his chance for the Triple Crown, but his unlikely success may be the beginning of the change in racing and breeding (and marketing) philosophy that will attract new fans to the sport.

Geldings have the power to attract interest, collecting fans and followers whose numbers would dwindle once the horse steps off the track and into the breeding shed. And there can be no doubt that there are fans who will take the time and effort to follow a particular horse.

One need only look to the unprecedented interest in the horses who have been signaled out as "special." We saw the general public and all of the power of the masses latch on to the stories of Barbaro and Eight Belles and Exceller and Ferdinand.

Wouldn't it be nice if all of that enthusiasm and passion for our equine athletes was focused on a horse who is still alive and running?

The future success of well-bred geldings may influence the sport in another way, as well. Perhaps the "gelding bias" of the Triple Crown races will be put to rest forever, and more horses will be gelded, which could, in the long run, reduce the number of 3-year-olds with a panoply of physical idiosyncrasies and genetic faults that become their unfortunate legacy.

Kathy Vespaziani - Weymouth, Mass.

Rachel's weight edge detracts from feat

Rachel Alexandra's Preakness victory was a truly great win, but everyone must be be fully aware that Rachel carried five fewer pounds over the 1 3/16 miles.

In a race with such prestige, there should not have been any edges. One could argue that if the additional weight had been added to the filly, the result would have been different. Rachel Alexandra is not just a filly, but a truly great horse. In the future, if a great filly challenges, I would like to see her run equally.

Joel W. Sainer - Sarasota, Fla.

Racing falls short in audience test

Something very telling happened on "Late Show with David Letterman" last Monday. In the course of his opening monologue, Letterman led off a joke by saying "How about that Preakness? What a race."

There was near-silence from the studio audience, and Letterman prompted the crowd, saying, "It's a horse race . . . down in Baltimore - Pimlico."

There was some nervous laughter, and then he led up to the punch line:

"A filly won the race - Rachel Alexandra won the Preakness - and there's already trouble . . . naked pictures."

That was a pretty funny line, but I don't think that the initial nonresponse from the audience at the mention of this exciting second jewel of the Triple Crown is anything for the racing industry to laugh about.

Mark Ratzky - Long Beach, Calif.