08/06/2009 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


Masses can be lured and causes helped by a racing lottery

The Racing Form's letters page has often been the medium for disgruntled fans to voice their dissatisfaction with the way in which Thoroughbred horse racing is being run (into the ground) by both national organizations and regional racetrack operators. And even stalwart supporters of the sport have criticized the appallingly naive way in which the sport has been and is being marketed, bemoaning the fact that the powers that be have apparently not only run out of money, but also ambition and direction.

So, for a change, during the serene meets of Saratoga and Del Mar, when for a little more than a month all of these problems can be temporarily put on the back burner, let's consider a positive solution that does not involve financing a losing concern on the backs of society's most vulnerable, as with slot machines.

Instead of $10,000-entry handicapping contests ("BC plans $10K buy-in tourney," July 16) for hard-core fans who don't need any encouragement and would be quite happy watching $3,000 claimers on black-and-white television at Timbuktu Downs, why not do something that will have universal appeal and easy access?

Namely, incorporate bets like the pick six and a French-style quinte (the Gallic version of the super high five, which finances the lion's share of racing in France) into state lottery games, and run a national $1-a-ticket sweepstake on the Kentucky Derby each year, with mega-prizes for winners and the proceeds going to the families of soldiers killed or injured in Iraq or Afghanistan?

(This year's Breeders' Cup is a step in the right direction, as outlined in the Aug. 6 article "California lottery tied to Cup.")

At a time when the economy is so weak and many people are unemployed, there certainly will not be any money available for government subsidies to prop up an elite and incompetently run sport. But if benefits from horse racing-driven lotteries and games seen to be supporting noble causes (perhaps cancer and AIDS research, too?), not only would the government and public embrace the concept, but so, too, would sponsors. The positive exposure that this would create for our great sport would warrant increased media coverage which, in turn, would dramatically increase television viewing, ontrack attendance, and betting turnover.

It sounds easy. And it actually is.

Robin Dawson - Toronto

Remark gives insight into surface matters

After reading the Aug. 2 article "Well Armed goes for repeat," I was struck by the hidden truths revealed between the lines. Bill Casner (the owner and breeder of Well Armed) was quoted as saying "He's a speed horse, there is no doubt his best racing surface is dirt."

There's an insight that should be underscored. So fast horses win dirt races? What type of horses win synthetic races, slow horses? How do we shift the entire breeding/racing industry around to breed/race slow horses when all these years have been about speed? Should we teach the trainers and jockeys to slow their horses down, too? Can I learn to handicap the slow horse as opposed to the fast one?

Will the folks who rule California racing ever be honest enough to admit the effect synthetic tracks have had on the greatest racing product on the planet? Will they ever admit drugs, not dirt, ruined California racing?

Marc Bonagura - Green Brook, N.J.