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Updated on 09/15/2011 2:20PM
Letters to the Editor
Arab interests rate a toast, not grilling
Andrew Beyer is the best and fairest racing writer we have in the United States. But Beyer overstepped his bounds when he asked in his Oct. 24 column "The Middle East and the Cup" that someone ask the powerful Arab sheikhs/owners in the Breeders Cup, "Shouldn't you be more concerned with more important things?"
Tell Mr. Beyer that in the United States we practice diversity, democracy, a free press, equal rights for all (even women), and capitalism. That is the exact opposite way of doing things in the Arab states, where in Saudi Arabia women are by law not even allowed to drive an automobile.
Legitimate Middle Eastern interests that display sportsmanship and knowledge and assume their own financial risks should be most welcome today, as they were welcome in the U.S. 21 years ago when they first appeared at the Keeneland sales. Even Beyer says ". . . the racing community respects them as serious horsemen."
Only in America can we be open to others and their ideas and that is why they call it a democracy. The only thing that I would say to the Arab horse owners, if I had the chance at Belmont Park, would be: "Welcome to New York City. Good Luck!"Alan Hirsch
Port Washington, N.Y.
Fruits of wealth and power have domestic roots
I imagine the question Andrew Beyer suggested be asked in the winner's circle at Belmont on Saturday when Arab horse owners accept their trophies - positing that perhaps their priorities should be better-directed - could have been appropriately asked of the Vanderbilts, the Whitneys, the Hunt brothers, and other wealthy American horse owners over the years who appeared, to the proletariat of this country, as self-indulgent.
Certainly the vicissitudes of a country's economy has a bearing on how wealth is accumulated and spent. If the industrialized countries of the world were more conservative in their use of oil, the oil-rich Gulf nations would not be awash in money.
Beyer seems a bit jealous of the inroads and success that certain sheikhs have achieved on United States of America turf. For him to interject a political argument accompanied by comments by a couple of self-appointed writer/experts, and to suggest that I and other citizens of the USA have taken a different view of Arab owners since Sept. 11 in his commentary is terribly inappropriate.
The question, however, won't be put to the Arab owners in the winner's circle, as none will be in attendance. Perhaps Frank Stronach, Robert and Beverly Lewis, Michael Tabor, and family members of the Allen Paulson Living Trust, as well as other Thoroughbred owners who may visit the winner's circle should be asked, "Shouldn't you be concerned with more important things?"
So near yet so far on game's biggest day
Normally, I look forward to Breeders' Cup Day, as I have many fond memories: So many afternoons have been spent in the company of friends, wagering on the world's top horses as they tackle the variables of competition, attempting to hit big. The races have been so thrilling, a losing wager has always been accepted as the price of entertainment.
Normally, I would have been even more excited this year, with the World Thoroughbred Championships right in my own backyard, a mere 30 minutes from home. But my friends and I, loyal day-to-day bettors, were effectively shut out, not by long lines, but by greed.
This stellar day of racing, the rightful reward for those who support the game with $1 trifecta boxes, is for the select few who seldom attend the races. The gouging included $10 parking, $10 to stand in the grandstand, and $35 and up for a reserved seat.
Reluctantly, my comrades and I were resigned to going to a Suffolk OTB. Knowing the place would be teeming with "tourist bettors," we tried to reserve booths with individual betting machines where we could sit and bet without the risk of being shut out. Guess what, you couldn't reserve or pay for one in advance. Suffolk OTB held a lottery for the privilege of paying for one of those accommodations. Never mind if you're married - you may have gotten a seat, but your spouse may not. And that group of friends who want to sit together and dope out the races? As the saying goes, "fuggedabodit." You gotta be crazy to try to bet on Breeders' Cup Day.
Genevieve F. Vignola
Bay Shore, N.Y.
Blight on Bluegrass track also damages Cup
Keeneland is a class track that deserves better than to be subject to the greed of those who would take (or withhold) its signal. There are only a few good race courses in the United States and this is one of them: racing as it was meant to be with families attending, horse people, and the beautiful country setting. I live in San Diego and wouldn't miss attending Keeneland every year.
Every horse player should stand up in support of Keeneland's efforts.
Another victim of greed is the card of Breeders' Cup races, which should be moved to other locations. They have traveled a cycle of larger tracks, so it seems that attendance is the issue when the promotion of the sport is just as important. Some of the smaller tracks deserve a chance to have this day for the local people to enjoy. Fair Grounds, Lone Star, Del Mar, and even smaller tracks should have a chance to host the World Thoroughbred Championships. They could open for a special meet, just as Gulfstream did two years ago. A great deal of money is bet through simulcast so live attendance is not as crucial as years ago.
Everything these days seems to be about bigger, when it should be about better.
TVG stands alone as a fan's best shot
Like every other comment about the passing of The Racing Network, Andrew Beyer's Sept. 7 "Parting with TRN such sad sorrow" was presented in the contest of "TRN good, TVG evil."
Beyer stated, "Most serious horseplayers hate the TVG format, as well as the limitations of its product; with a single channel, it shows only about six races an hour." Beyer's definition of "serious horseplayer" - those who feel their lives are not worth living without every race from a bunch of second-tier tracks - would seem to describe "gambling addicts," not true fans.
To listen to Beyer and other critics, you would think that TVG shows only a race or two in between extended discourses on a host's underwear. This is not correct. TVG provides coverage of most major race meets, in-depth looks at workouts from both the Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup contenders, major overseas races, and extensive coverage of the Keeneland sales, among other things.
The question now is what will we do if TVG shuts down. Then we will be stuck with insulting coverage by ESPN, whose timely airing of a big race can be dependent on whether or not a women's amateur golf tournament spills over its allotted time slot (see, for example, this year's Jim Dandy).
Melrose Park, Ill.