11/27/2009 1:00AM

Letters to the Editor


Santa Anita truly the perfect spot for sensational show

I read the Nov. 15 letter "Cup weekend gave cause to reflect," which stated having any track host the Breeders' Cup "two years in a row is a big mistake." Do you know where we were before Santa Anita? Monmouth Park. The reason I know is because we ran a filly that year in the Juvenile Fillies race that was run over six inches of mud in the freezing rain.

Santa Anita is not only one of the most gorgeous tracks in the world, the weather is phenomenal, and this year's production was nearly flawless. I'm not sure how you improve on that. As both a racehorse owner and enthusiastic fan, hats off to Santa Anita for a tremendous event.

With regards to Zenyatta, her victory in the Classic was worth the price of admission ($470 a day for reserved seats). As a successful businessman, one of my philosophies is that you can finish ahead of 90 percent of the crowd by just showing up. Zenyatta showed up. She is the incredible, incomparable, invincible Zenyatta!

Mark Wayman - Las Vegas

Meeting of females should be priority

The powers that be in racing need to make a dream matchup happen between Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. They could meet in February or March at Gulfstream Park. That way Zenyatta can still be bred later in the spring after the race. Both horses can train through the winter and have time for a prep race.

Racing can come up with a purse of $3 million or so and give the public the race it desperately needs. Both camps need to put the sport first, and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Gulfstream need to make it a reality. I can see a crowd of 50,000 coming out to watch these two stars.

Jeff Richardson - Lincoln, Neb.

California tracks facing an exodus

In the Nov. 13 article "Field size a concern as Hollywood Park meet opens," the track's racing secretary, Martin Panza, was quoted as saying, "It's a short meeting. In this economy, I don't know of a whole lot of trainers that can sit on their horses. Most owners are like, 'Hey, there's a race. Let's run.' "

With the current cannibalization of the wagering pools and the reduction in purses available for the $32,000 claimers down, most owners are either jumping ship or looking elsewhere. I have owned and raced horses for some time, and I always was one for having everything based right here in Southern California (with an occasional trip north when necessary). But with what is happening with the structure of racing here, I have no choice in realizing that twisting the familiar phrase to "Go east, young man" sure seems to fit these days.

Gregg Guiol - Dana Point, Calif.

Churchill scratch was justice denied

I was quite distressed when I read the Nov. 20 article "Stewards' scratch prevents return of 12-year-old mare" telling of how the new self-appointed czar of racing, steward John Veitch, had scratched a properly entered horse at Churchill Downs. He even admitted that no rules were broken, but he took it upon himself to be judge, jury, and executioner and to order the mare Grand Forks scratched.

This man should be held accountable by the owners and the Kentucky Racing Commission and be severely sanctioned.

Due process of law was not followed, and the owner/trainer's constitutional rights were violated.

Tim Stanley - Ottawa

Global rankings bad news for U.S.A.

In the recently released World Thoroughbred Rankings ("Sea the Stars retains world's top rating," Nov. 14), among the top 50 are only 12 horses bred in the United States, including only four horses who race on dirt. Clearly, our horses and the quality of our racing are deemed inferior to the European product by this poll.

With the advent of synthetic racing, there now seem to be three classes of runners: turf, dirt, and synthetic. Fortunately for the turf horses, they can now excel on two surfaces, because turf form tends to carry to synthetics. Unfortunately for dirt horses, their reputations are diminished, as they tend to dislike two-thirds of the surfaces, and a loss on synthetic is often viewed as a loss on dirt.

So what does this mean for the future of American racing and breeding, so reliant on dirt horses? Are we considering the consequences of synthetic tracks on the essence of what constitutes a U.S.-bred Thoroughbred?

Tom Healy - St. Paul, Minn.

The real debate isn't strictly horses

As an owner, breeder, fan, and race-player, I found the debate over Horse of the Year was crystallized long before the running of the Breeders' Cup Classic. Unfortunately, this mess cannot be reduced to a choice of either Zenyatta or Rachel Alexandra.

The real debate should be about the relevance of Breeders' Cup championships. Experts with a Horse of the Year vote need to ask themselves one question: Can a man with a great eye for a blossoming 3-year-old filly (Jess Jackson) and the wherewithal to pay millions of dollars for her, with one dismissive wave of his opinion of synthetic racing surfaces render completely irrelevant every other owner's carefully laid plans that point his charges towards the first Friday and Saturday in November?

No doubt Rachel Alexandra performed some remarkable racing feats this year. We all marveled at her, rooted for her, and enjoyed her. But all of us who are investing money in the breeding and racing industry must begin to wonder, as this so-called controversy rages, if the plowing of thousands of dollars per month into the costs of horses in training, broodmares in foal, and yearlings in waiting, is based on anything concrete. Do we actually have a widely recognized venue for determining champions on the racetrack? Or can a single person intentionally boycott our prime championship venue and actually dictate the relevance of (or lack thereof) of the Breeder's Cup World Championships? I am not ready to cede that sort of dictatorial power to any one owner. And it does not matter how many truly impressive performances Rachel Alexandra delivered in preliminary events.

We should all be reminded that sometimes the NFL plays the Super Bowl on real grass and sometimes on artificial turf. Sometimes that game is played indoors and sometimes outside. Various owners and teams have their surface and stadium design preferences. But, as in racing, everyone knows in advance at the start of each season at which venue the championship trophy gets hoisted.

Folks, we need to be very careful what we are doing here.

Jim Spence - Las Cruces, N.M.

Frankel set shining example

I haven't followed horse racing for very long, just since 2003. In that time, I have had the opportunities to attend the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Breeders' Cup. I attend Santa Anita at least once or twice during each season, and I never had the chance to meet Bobby Frankel. I have stood near him and watched him with his horses many times. He earned my highest regard as a trainer and conditioner of horses. Now that he's gone, who will I look up to?

There were no scandals in the Frankel barn. Who will take his place and make sure there is a standard by which we can hold trainers accountable?

Denise Hauffe - Aliso Viejo, Calif.