01/05/2007 1:00AM

Letters to the Editor


Barred jockeys being denied due process

The barring of jockeys continues to expand - it is now up to 10 individuals - with four tracks now participating in this action: first Calder, Tampa Bay Downs and Philadelphia Park, and now Gulfstream Park has announced it has joined the banning of riders ("Gulfstream joins jockey ban," Dec. 28). While the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau is conducting its investigation concerning the running of races many months ago at Great Lakes Downs, linked to large wagers at Delaware Park, the banned jockeys all are unable to ride, exercise horses, or hold any other means of employment at these tracks during the ongoing investigation.

I find this action very disturbing for a variety of reasons. All of the riders currently banned hold state licenses to ply their trade. They do not appear to have rulings against them by governing stewards, or members of any state racing commission, linked to this or any other rule infraction. I find it, therefore, difficult to accept the tracks' position that exercising their rights as private property owners is sufficient grounds to bar these riders access to employment while under investigation. Are licensed racing participants not entitled to the same due process as any other citizen? When did it become okay to smear a reputation without making specific charges of wrongdoing?

I think track operators have the cart before the horse on this one, and in doing so risk serious censure unless a clear case is made against these riders, and made public very soon.

The general public already has a perception of racing being unable to police itself , and trampling on individual rights in attempting to keep the sport clean will only hurt racing's image even more.

Chris Canfield - Bedford, Ohio

Barbaro's feat deserves the prize

In my humble opinion there is no contest about the Eclipse Award for top 3-year-old male. This award is not based on potential or what we think may have happened. It is based on facts and real accomplishments. The bottom line is that while Discreet Cat and Bernardini are top-class colts, they did not surpass Barbaro in accomplishment.

Barbaro never lost or ducked anyone. The determining factor to me was how, in the Kentucky Derby, he effortlessly - under a hand ride and not put to severe pressure - ran a faster time as a young, still-maturing colt in early May, over the same track and distance, and while carrying more weight than both Invasor and Bernardini - more mature late-season horses - did in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Some may say the surfaces were different, but I don't buy that. Additionally, anyone who saw Barbaro gallop out after the Derby knows that, had it been needed, he probably could have shaded 2:00 that day. Plain and simple, he was a freak. I absolutely feel Discreet Cat is a freak as well, but he needs to prove it next year.

I don't want to diminish any of these top colts, but Barbaro clearly deserves the title. There's no doubt in my mind Barbaro would have won the Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup had he not been injured. My opinion, however, is not out of sympathy. When all the best are supposed to show up on the first Saturday in May, Barbaro humbled them all.

Jeff Richardson Lincoln, Neb.

Snub of Matz an unfair slight

It was one of the greatest disappointments of 2006 that the voters for the Eclipse Awards did not have Michael Matz as one of the three finalists for outstanding trainer ("Invasor tops list of finalists," Jan 5).

Matz won the Kentucky Derby, still the most recognizable race in the world, with the then-undefeated Barbaro, his first Derby starter. He won the Breeders' Cup Distaff with Round Pond, his only starter on that day, as well as many other races and graded stakes throughout the year.

Matz maintained a low profile, letting his horses get the attention they deserved. He kept a clean slate and handled himself with dignity and grace in the face of pressure and ultimately near-tragedy, while restoring class to an industry in desperate need of reestablishing faith among its followers.

The Thoroughbred Times did a poll on its website allowing the fans and people who support the industry to vote. The overwhelming winner in the trainer category was Michael Matz. Maybe racing's fans should be allowed to contribute to deciding the Eclipse Awards in the future - after all, without them there would be no racing.

Jill Byrne - Louisville, Ky.