09/17/2009 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


Complaint over ban sounds false note to concerned party

Let me see if I understand correctly Kent Stirling, director of the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, in regard to the positive tests for trainers Greg Griffith, Rodolfo Garcia and Alan Benson, as told in the Sept. 11 Calder Notes item "Three trainers appeal suspension."

Had these trainers realized the penalty for administering a banned substance was going to be so harsh they would not have done it. (By the way, the state can prove the medication was given on race day, it seems, which is absolutely forbidden in any racing jurisdiction.) Stirling is complaining that what once was a $300 fine now includes a 60-day suspension. Well, I say, finally the state is doing something.

Mr. Stirling is supposed to represent the horsemen as a whole, and I can assure you the vast majority of us want racing cleaned up. Our great sport is under a dark cloud with some cheats taking shortcuts and trying to get away with running horses on illegal medications, and there is the director of a horsemen's association whining that the testing is more sensitive than it used to be, rather than berating these trainers for taking a shot.

Yes, gentlemen, you took a shot and you got caught. Your only defense is it did take too long for the state to inform you, but if you blatantly break the rules, then you have to be prepared to pay the consequences. Let's face it, this is not even a case of getting a little too close with a daily medication by accident.

Jane Cibelli - Long Branch, N.J.

Rachel hasn't met real test of time

After ducking the Travers, which she would have won, because an anticipated duel with front-running Quality Road scared them off, the connections of Rachel Alexander sent her out to beat Grade 2 competition in the Woodward.

The master plan is working with some of the filly's giddy admirers. Is there, though, a horse the quality of Invasor, Curlin, or Street Sense in this year's older division?

Rachel Alexandra a wonderful animal, but not Native Dancer or Dr. Fager, who set the mile record carrying 134 pounds pounds. Dr. Fager faced a rabbit named Hedevar in several of his big races in an attempt to tire him on the front end. Although Rachel can rate, she has never been subjected to a specific strategy to knock her down.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves here.

Steve Orton - LaGrange, Ill.

Team's glory came via checkbook

What seems forgotten amid all the accomplishments of Rachel Alexandra is the fact she was bought as a 3-year-old. In fact, just about the only knock against her story (save the fact that her connections don't want to run her 1 1/4 miles), is really more a knock against her camp.

They didn't breed her, nor train her, nor show her to her first winner's circle. They saw her win the Kentucky Oaks, flashed an armored truck worth of cash, and bought her. Too often I have heard "Mr. Jackson purchased her after the Oaks." That seems a soft way of saying "bought someone else's winner." I understand that practice is part of the game - in claiming races.

For all the accolades and "atta boy" comments the connections are getting, it is fair to ask just how much training Steve Asmussen has done with her, and remind everyone the current connections made the situation the way it is by forking over money, not breeding their own champion filly. I hear nothing in any interviews with these folks about Hal Wiggins, who did most of the legwork with her.

None of this diminishes Rachel Alexandra's remarkable victories - and they are just that, remarkable - but it puts her story into perspective.

Jack Chiostergi - Newnan, Ga.

Barn security could be private matter

With John Shirreffs having in the past voiced his concern over the New York Racing Association's detention barns (noted in Andrew Beyer's Sept. 10 column, "Female showdown a fitting scenario") in leaning against bringing Zenyatta to New York, has anyone thought of an alternate method? From someone looking outside in, there seems like a simple solution.

Allow an owner and /or trainer to request private surveillance at time of entry. Proper manpower would then be dispatched to the horse's stall on race day and do whatever they do in the surveillance barn. If video surveillance is required, a temporary setup would be part of the package.

In return, the owner or trainer would be responsible for the entire cost of the private services, including all manpower costs. If more guards are needed to accommodate more requests, it would cost NYRA nothing.

If NYRA could eliminate this perceived problem, it would eliminate one stumbling block that might stand in the way of any proposed superstar matchups in the future.

Chuck Seeger - Fort Myers, Fla.