01/19/2007 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor


Extra Cup day will have interest spread too thinly

Adding more races to the Breeders' Cup is probably a good thing ("Three new $1M Cup races," Jan. 10). Splitting them off into another day is a very bad thing.

Putting another day aside for the Breeders' Cup sounds like an attempt to generate more revenue for the company through broadcast rights, not respecting the fans. It is like having the first quarter of the Super Bowl on Saturday and the rest of the game on Sunday.

Generally, fans are an enthusiastic, if somewhat cynical bunch. I include myself in this group. Breeders' Cup Day is the one day of racing when a fan can expect that jockeys, trainers, and owners won't be playing games. There's too much at stake. Games are still played, as evidenced by the track harrowing at Churchill Downs, but the races themselves are usually run all out.

Also, most fans actually have jobs, and going on a Saturday is a great ritual. Having to book a Friday off is not a preferred habit to take up. Breeders' Cup should add the new races to the Saturday card, and get rid of the races that precede the BC card if time constraints are a problem.

Bill Power - Toronto

Suspension should cause reflection

While reading the Jan. 14 article "Asmussen getting down to business," I had all I could do to control my anger. The piece portrayed Asmussen as some kind of terrific family man who just took a six-month vacation to be with his boys and have a great ol' time. Never mind the fact he got caught cheating the betting public on two occasions, with his horses testing positive for banned substances in 2006.

In this day and age, when certain trainers win a high percentage of races, horse bettors now have to question trainers like Asmussen and what medication they might be giving their horses. Now, we even have leading trainer Todd Pletcher serving a suspension. Are there any fair trainers out there going by the book?

How many bettors lost money on races that involved horses trained by Asmussen last year? Sadly, we will never know. We do know of two occasions, though: those races in which his horses tested positive in New Mexico and Louisiana, for which he was handed his six-month suspension. It should have been a lifetime suspension.

Where is the outrage from other trainers and owners who play by the book and have their horses beaten by horses trained by people who have been caught using illegal drugs?

As for Asmussen's statement that "I'm looking forward to getting back into the routine," let's hope it's a routine of playing fair.

Greg Hoelk - Atlanta

Trainer's departure brings no tears

In regard to the Jan. 8 article "Vestal finds there's no room for the little guy," on trainer Pete Vestal's quitting (not retiring): I can not say who I am more annoyed at, the two quoted trainers or the Racing Form for writing such a boo-hoo story. Was it written for sympathy or to bash the country's leading trainers?

Being the wife of a former "little guy" trainer who is now assistant to a very successful trainer, I am perturbed, to say the least, with comments made by two trainers complaining about their failure. To blame their failure on other trainers' success is pitiful. In my opinion, Phil Hauswald's and Vestal's feelings are shared by many fellow trainers. Frequently you hear them say the trainers of what the article called "mega-stables" are bad for racing.

These successful trainers have worked long and hard to get where they are and continue to do so with help from their dedicated staffs. The "mega-stables" have always existed and have helped several trainers get where they are today. Nothing was handed to them.

Mr. Vestal's employment record of four known assistant-trainer jobs in under 10 years does not say much about his commitment and work ethic. How can someone who made 10 percent of "more than $20 million" in purses expect us to believe his financial hardship? There are a lot of people in this country who make a lot less and support themselves and families. Did Vestal feel sorry for the "little guy" when he made all that purse money?

For Vestal to say his owners "hired other trainers" is the icing on the cake. They obviously felt someone else was better qualified, harder-working, or more "hands-on" To blame that on what the article termed "mega-stables" is absurd.

He also touched on the subject that really hit home: assistants. Every enterprise employs managers, vice presidents, aides, supervisors, etc. That is what successful, long-standing businesses do. For a stable to be criticized for doing the same is ludicrous.

Finally, his comment that "the horse is taking a backseat to the business itself" reflects the reason for his failure: Horse racing is a business - always was, always will be. If anyone tells you differently, they are pulling your leg.

Madeleine Sciametta - Hollywood, Fla.P

Home viewing gets low rating

Is racing ever going to get its act together? As a lifelong horseplayer, I find it gets ever more frustrating to understand why the powers that be can't seem to become professional in their television programming.

Television Games Network constantly misses jockey changes and many other things. Now that the "premier" winter meet has started at Gulfstream, I am forced to endure HorseRacing TV. During opening week, I had to watch more than a few of the track's races on tape delay, as things like replays of Hollywood Park stakes were deemed more important.

Maybe I should switch to "illegal" online poker! The people who run those games seem to know how to treat millions of players a lot more professionally than the powers in the horse race world.

Dan Pinkos - Easthampton, Mass.