07/23/2009 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


Fallen horse's owner differs in account

I read the July 24 article "Bejarano injured in spill" and must take extreme exception to the depiction of the race and the tone used in describing the fallen Mi Rey on opening day at Del Mar.

I was the owner of Mi Rey, and when I read the depiction of the scenario, I was thoroughly baffled. The article stated that Mi Rey "had been a prominent contender through the first half-mile of the six-furlong race. He was beginning to lose position when he broke down. . . ."

In the race I was watching, Mi Rey was running comfortably about four lengths off a 22-and-change quarter, and at the quarter pole started to make his move towards the leaders. Jockey Rafael Bejarano angled him down towards the rail, got Mi Rey in perfect striking position as they entered the lane, and was about to take on the leader when all of sudden the tragic scene occurred.

To write that "he was beginning to lose position" implies that something was amiss with Mi Rey. The article then went in a similar tone, describing the racing record of Mi Rey, somehow giving off the perception that Mi Rey was unsound, and bringing up his last start at the $16,000 level, where he finished seventh of 10.

Let me tell everyone: Mi Rey was a very cool old-timer who was training very well going into Wednesday's race, and I sure wish all my horses were as sound as he was. I would also be willing to place a large wager that if you ask Bejarano what he was thinking at the time this happened, he would answer that he was just about to pick up his first winner of the meet.

Gregg Guiol - Monarch Beach, Calif.

Ohio slots plan a fine model

The proposed video lottery terminal agreement under which Ohio's seven racetracks will get 50 percent of revenue (touched on in the July 12 article "Ohio leaders advance slots"), is path-breaking and should become a model for the nation.

This approach is the great equalizer to the inordinate power given to horsemen's unions by the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978. Finally, after 30 years of protectionist-fueled decline, track managers can regain control of their businesses and promote the interests of racing fans - at least in Ohio, anyway.

The new arrangement should end sorry choices such as the cancellation of this year's Ohio Derby in order to run a bunch of faceless races that have little fan/bettor appeal.

Assuming that track owners want to continue in the racing business, track executives will be able to safeguard big events - the key to drawing new customers - while negotiating with local horsemen on a sensible number of other races.

This should, in turn, lead to an improvement in the financial health of not only Thistledown and Ohio's other tracks, but also other parts of the industry as a growing fan base gives racing surer footing for the future.

Kudos to Gov. Ted Strickland and others in Ohio for such a visionary plan.

James Mosher - Ledyard, Conn.

Racing buffeted from coast to coast

The July 22 article "Summertime has arrived," about the opening of Del Mar's meet, started me thinking about the problems with California racing - and if Del Mar has concerns and cutbacks in racing days, we are in trouble - and racing in general.

In Maryland and New York, horse racing has become a political football fumbled about by politicians who do not have a clue. The trend has often been to keep increasing the takeout to the point where the game becomes unplayable on a regular basis, like a Big Six wheel that a person might play at a charity event but not otherwise.

The occasional efforts reducing takeout are usually for certain bets for limited amounts of time. They are ill-marketed as well, which ensures their failure. It is the greatest game on Earth, and I am afraid it is going to die, at least in the United States, because of greed and stupidity.

Then there's the once-treasured Breeders' Cup. It is hard to believe that anyone could do as much damage as has been done to the Breeders' Cup without malicious intent. It used to be, without question, the greatest day of racing in the United States, if not the world. But they had to kill the goose that laid the golden eggs.

Now we have a two-day mishmash of great races and glorified allowance races, run two years in a row on a mystery surface. I guess they could increase the prices and ensure even a more sparse turnout.

Thomas F. McDonough - Towson, Md.

Cup contest won't draw new blood

I read in the July 16 Form that Breeders' Cup is going to attempt to focus more on horseplayers and racing fans. Well, I'll be damned!

One would think that its efforts would be in the area of reaching out to attract new bettors and fans.

What Breeders' Cup has in mind, though, is a handicapping tournament with a $10,000 entry fee ("BC plans $10K buy-in tourney"), which will interest only the hard-core bettors (and a small proportion of them, as who can afford the entry fee?), and virtually lock them in a room on BC Day at the racetrack away from the ambiance and enjoyment of watching the races live.


Wendell Corrow - Barkhamsted, Conn.