10/11/2001 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor

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Racing's vigor keeps a nation on the muscle

I have been getting a bit upset hearing and reading some criticism of both racetracks and horsemen for racing on the Thursday and Friday following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on our country.

It seems to me that some of the main goals of those cowards was to stop, upset, and disrupt American life. Well, racetrackers just do not have the luxury or opportunity to cease our everyday activities. We get up and go every day - Saturday, Sunday, Christmas, Easter, rain, snow - whatever. Heck, two days off is a vacation to us, while to the majority of Americans it is just another weekend.

So, when I led my filly over to the paddock to run on Thursday, Sept. 13, I was proud that one of the few things I could do, in addition to donating blood and money, was to keep on keeping on. I don't believe that any of the unfortunate victims who died for our country would want it any other way.

If President Bush wanted a real special force outfit to join in his war on terrorism, he could recruit the backside help from any racetrack in America, because they are the toughest and most selfless men and women in sports.

Donald C. Wimpfheimer - Hollywood, Fla.

Money pipeline has two-way valve

In addition holding to many benefit events, there's another way the racing world can contribute to the war on terrorism.

Dubai has been notoriously uncooperative in the effort to follow money trails. Unless Dubai agrees to be more helpful in tracking the source of potential funds for terrorist use, American and European horsemen, trainers, and jockeys should boycott all racing in Dubai and bar any horses from Dubai from racing in the United States or Europe.

Richard Valeriani - Sherman, Conn.

Valeriani is a former correspondent for NBC News.

Weekend wagering a no-brainer

Hmmm, let's see. I can go to a crowded New York offtrack betting parlor where there is no place to sit, no rest rooms, no refreshments and bet on races from Finger Lakes and pay a 5 percent surcharge on any winnings I may have, or I can go to Belmont Park get a seat with a desk, with rest rooms and refreshment stands nearby and bet on racing from Keeneland, and if I want also watch the NFL games.

I wonder where I'll spend my Sunday afternoon.

Mickey Englert - Glendale, N.Y.

New York's OTB fumbles, others pick up ball

New York City Off-Track Betting has long been known as the most hopelessly incompetent organization to be found anywhere. Its decision not to carry Keeneland is tantamount to a television network broadcasting minor league baseball rather than the World Series because they thought the price was too high.

Don't worry about me. I can watch Keeneland on my home computer and bet with Connecticut OTB. I was forced to these measures some time ago because NYC OTB, as well as the sorry regional OTB's who very stupidly follow its lead, are pathetic.

Robert L. Fabbricatore - Clifton Park, N.Y .

Alphabet soup no cure for sport's ailments

When you hear these words, World Thoroughbred Championships, what do you think of? Yep, a series of stakes held overseas.

That's why I believe the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Breeders' Cup Ltd. made a grave mistake changing the name it took 17 years to build up - the Breeders' Cup ("New name for Breeders' Cup," June 28).

I do like the idea of the joint campaign with ESPN to boost awareness with the "Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships" aimed at increasing viewers en route to that great racing afternoon. And I'm all for the alliance with the Emirates World Series, which is held primarily overseas, to telecast selected international races for outstanding older horses.

But to think that such schemes as polls, point standings, and other statistics and series schedules, will attract and keep new fans is nonsense

That's what turns off potential fans. They don't want to be bothered with a bunch of figures and data. Many neophytes bet names and numbers because sifting through past performances and complicated formulas is too complicated.

BC may be just what NTRA and BCL officials will need if their WTC plan doesn't do the trick. I'm talking about the headache powder.

Greg Melikov - San Antonio

If not truly global, big day still world's best

Alan Shuback's criticism of the name change for the Breeders' Cup ("For this championship event, it's a small world," Sept 30) is just a little too harsh. He identifies a few good reasons why the event should not be considered a World Championship but he totally overlooks reasons why it should be considered such.

Sure, each race in itself cannot be considered a championship race, but then again, does the Kentucky Derby produce the ultimate 3-year-old champion every year (see Monarchos)? It is the ability to bring eight quality races together in one day for different ages, distances, and surfaces that make it a World Championship day. I do not see any of the European or other racing industries offering such a variety of races. The Hong Kong Jockey Club might be called a turf championship, but it could never consider itself a world championship without offering races on the dirt.

In addition, champions are champions when they can overcome all obstacles and win. The European horses do not just stay away because they do not like the surface or the going, they usually stay away because they do not necessarily have a champion. When they think they can win, they will be here. Horses like Miesque, Arazi, Barathea, and Sheikh Albadou are prime examples of top Europeans who were successful in the Cup.

There is no better name for a day than one that has featured winning horses who were bred in the U.S.A., Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, France, and Argentina. If there is to be a World Championship, the Breeders' Cup is it!

Tim Eremondi - Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Racing needs raised voice to speak for bettors

Many thanks to Steven Crist for speaking out so quickly and so strongly against the mid-Atlantic/New York OTB boycott of the Keeneland signal ("This will not stand," Oct. 7.)

I'm a California resident (a transplanted New Jersey horseplayer), but was frustrated for the horseplayers back east when I read the news. I also feared this might put a stop to the movement toward lower takeout. I believe that it's at least in part thanks to Crist's column that the mid-Atlantic tracks came to their senses and struck a deal with Keeneland ("Mid-Atlantic restores Keeneland," Oct 11).

New York City's OTB ought to do the same if it knows what's good for it.

It is about time that we had a powerful voice to speak on behalf of the interests of the horseplayers. We all appreciate the leadership.

Mike Robertson - Menlo Park, Calif.