12/11/2009 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor


Not all statistics seem to add up

How, with a straight face, it can be reported that Steve Asmussen has started (which implies trained) 2,799 Thoroughbreds and won with 623 Thoroughbreds is mind-boggling and a huge distortion of reality: It is impossible for one person to train and start 2,799 Thoroughbreds.

Training at one time meant (and still does to thousands of trainers, to me, and thousands of handicappers) actually having one's hands on the horse, watching the horse, exercising the horse, putting the jock up, and standing in the winner's circle.

Asmussen trains by cell phone. I doubt he has touched more than 50 horses all year.

So why aren't the real trainers of the horses that raced at 37 different racetracks this year, supposedly trained by Asmussen, listed as the trainers? Who put the jockey up when 24 Asmussen-trained horses started at seven different tracks last Saturday, or the 57 starters in three days at various racetracks?

When Asmussen is listed as the trainer, the facts are skewed (trainer win percentage, starts, et cetera), as the real hands-on trainer is not listed. Again, who actually is training the horse, and what are the real trainer's percentages?

Wendell Corrow - Barkhamsted, Conn.

Eclipse debate evidence of change

The controversy of who should be Horse of the Year for 2009 will most likely be argued for decades to come. One thing that is very apparent is the changes horse racing is going through. Horse racing now has three racing surfaces: turf, dirt, and synthetics. Maybe in years to come there will be an Eclipse Award for all three surfaces.

In an unprecedented move, the Breeders' Cup races were run at the same track two years in a row, on a synthetic main track. Thus, there have been no dirt races since 2007.

There was a time when contenders for Horse of the Year honors went through the Eastern or Midwest racetracks. To race exclusively in one state and still be Horse of the Year may become another change we soon see.

Rick Sigers - Jackson, Mich.

Mutuel clerks have power to annoy

It is time to address one of my personal concerns: the professionalism of bet-takers, the tellers.

When I approach a betting window I expect the teller to be alert and ready to take the bet, not finish reading the paragraph they are on in their book or finish there jibber-jabber with a fellow employee. I expect the bet read back exactly as I stated it, including the horse numbers in the order I gave them with a total amount of the bet. I expect them to know what "with" means in part-wheels.

I do not want tellers to comment on a customer's bets or wins. Many tellers make comments on the amount of bets or the number of horses bet on in a race. They make loud "wow" comments if there is a big payoff they are cashing for someone. They have even yelled down the line about the size of a payoff while cashing it for the patron.

The money and bets should be handled in a matter-of-fact, disciplined fashion. There should be no extraneous comments, unless perhaps the customer starts it. Even then the teller should be reserved.

It should be like a banking transaction. "Yes sir," "No sir," minimal conversation. The goal of the interaction between teller and patron should be getting the transaction right only. Nothing more.

The patron - aka bettor - should feel that when done, the teller has no personal interest in the patron's business.

Finally, tipping. Some tellers hold back coins due the customer until asked for by the customer. Some will hold back dollars until asked. Most pay out completely, including the change. I'll definitely tip a bit, sometimes when I place the bet, other times when I cash. I appreciate the professional teller, but there are fewer of them then ever. Maybe training is the issue.

Ray Davis - Nicholasville, Ky.