06/11/2009 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


Belmont analysts put their focus on wrong subjects

It was so easy the way ABC commentators, after the running of the Belmont Stakes, were quick to criticize the ride of Calvin Borel aboard Mine That Bird. They just couldn't help themselves.

But not much was said about the way Charitable Man became the first to bail out in the stretch, despite having the track bias in his favor. (And let's not even discuss that frivolous inquiry and claim of foul by Charitable Man's jockey.)

Cheers to the network's coverage of the Belmont winner, but the experts - who, in their haste, completely ignored the courage of Dunkirk, who re-rallied after a grueling pace duel - didn't take as much dirt in the face as they deserved.

Mike Wolfington - Dillon, Mont.

TV camera work far too distracting

After watching ABC's broadcast of last Saturday's Belmont Stakes I came away with two main impressions:

1. Okay, network coverage of racing is doing a better job giving current odds before a race and payoff results afterward - far more timely and complete compared with the dismal past.

2. But changing camera angles repeatedly was more than I could take. The simple pan shot you get at the track or simulcast facility is far preferable. Leave the other views for review after the fact. It is impossible to watch the horse you bet when camera angles are changed every 10 seconds.

Maybe the network is required to hire too many cameramen. If they changed angles every five seconds they could double the hiring, stimulating the economy. Let's not forget, producers need something to do in the booth. Maybe they should employ producers who make a bet.

What is the goal? It should be to provide the pan shot, where viewers can spot and track any horse they support. The pan shot is just as grand and pretty as any other the networks have come up with.

Ah well, maybe next year.

Ray Davis - Hudson, N.H.

Quick steps needed to move game ahead

I have been following horse racing for more than 40 years, and I am sad to report that unless changes are made, the game will be moving from the sports page to the obituary page.

I assume that most tracks are similar to the two I attend, Turfway Park and River Downs. The few spectators in attendance are mostly older men. When they die, there will be no young blood to take their place. The sport has done nothing to cultivate young followers. I would suggest that the sport utilize the following suggestions.

1. Make the program move faster. People complain when sports events such as football or baseball go over three hours in duration. Many tracks schedule their races 30 minutes apart, so a 10-race card lasts more than 4 1/2 hours. I propose that races take place every 20 minutes. This puts a 10-race card at a little over three hours.

2. Don't have the races from major tracks run simultaneously. It's bad enough to wait for the 30 minutes between races - it's even worse for Santa Anita and Gulfstream to have their races run at the exact same time when you have placed bets on both. Is it any wonder that Magna Entertainment Corp., the owner of those two tracks, is in bankruptcy? I'm just happy that racing management hasn't replaced the air traffic controllers at our airports.

3. Conduct classes for new players at least once a month. New players aren't afraid to go to a casino to pull on a slot machine, but they are scared to death to call out a bet at the track. I have helped numerous people, and they have thanked me and stopped to say hello to me on a return visit. This shouldn't be my job. You would think tracks would have personnel available for instruction or have a video instruction on television broadcasts.

4. Make it more fun to attend the track than to stay home and bet over the phone or computer. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association could sponsor weekly contests that could be played only at NTRA tracks. The tracks could also give out some prizes to people in attendance.

5. Once a year, card at least four decent races at some of the minor-league tracks and bring in many of the big-name jockeys and trainers. I know that harness racing has its Grand Circuit. The Thoroughbred industry needs something similar.

There are numerous other possibilities, but employing the above would be a good start.

Jim Littenhoff - Cincinnati