02/16/2007 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor

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McCaffery's influence will carry on in new generation

I just received the sad news. Trudy McCaffery had passed ("McCaffery succumbs to cancer," Feb. 14). It did not come as a total surprise. After reading Jay Hovdey's wonderful Feb. 11 tribute, "This lady will leave behind a legacy," it seemed as if the end was very near.

It still hurts.

There are too many superlatives to bestow upon a person like Trudy McCaffery. Wonderful. Awesome. Unassuming. Kind. The list could go on and on. I believe there are two words, though, that really hit home for me whenever I hear her name.

The first is "spirit."

What a spirit Trudy had. You talk about contagious. I literally saw her minutes before she collapsed recently at Santa Anita, and she could not have been more upbeat and positive with her trademark twinkle in her eye. People may have heard how sick she was, but her illness never registered in an observer's eyes and ears.

Her energy and enthusiasm for this great sport of Thoroughbred racing was unwavering to say the least.

The second word is one Hovdey touched upon: "sportsmanship."

In a business where knocking someone is a constant way of life, Trudy rose above. If she didn't win the race, she was truly happy for you if you did. She understood how wonderful and brutal Thoroughbred racing can be. She understood when it finally all came together and one had the opportunity to stand in the winner's circle how special it was. Trudy was a rare person who didn't root against people.

What a role model for anyone who participates in this business.

I got to know Trudy personally after my son Sean won a trip to the Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs through the Kids to the Cup program. Trudy worked tirelessly throughout the entire week to make sure we were all taken care of. She took care of her kids and her horses in the same manner.

As a direct result of that trip, my California-bred son decided he wanted to attend the University of Kentucky after his graduation from high school. He is now in his sophomore year as a proud Wildcat.

Trudy touched our lives in a very personal way as she did with so many others. It is now our chance to uphold and continue her legacy by maintaining great enthusiasm for Thoroughbred racing and practicing good sportsmanship while Trudy is in her final resting place.

Bob Feld - Monrovia, Calif.

Youths received gifts of lasting value

Back in 1997, what would become the Kids to the Cup program was a loosely organized group of kids who had formed Internet fan clubs for their favorite Thoroughbred racehorses. My son's horse of choice was the great Free House.

Then Trudy McCaffery began a commitment to Kids to the Cup. She brought the organization from a ramshackle, loose confederation of kids to one that eventually allowed hundreds of pre-teens to have the opportunity not only to see personally see their four-legged heroes, but also to meet many of the backstretch people who make things happen at the country's racetracks.

We have lost touch with many of the kids over the years, but I do know my son Tom Jr. is a true fan, and at least one of the kids is enrolled in Chris McCarron's jockey school. I also know all of these kids learned computer skills that gave them an edge over their contemporaries. These are McCaffery's true legacies.

Neither Tom Jr. nor I could be at Santa Anita on Friday for the memorial service there, but we wanted to express our condolences on the loss of this great lady of the sport of Thoroughbred racing. We join the racing world in saluting her accomplishments as a horsewoman, but, more importantly, as a true human being and friend.

Thomas M. Jackson Sr. - Somerset, N.J.

Racing could use more of the same

Many thanks to Jay Hovdey for his bittersweet Feb. 11 column on Trudy McCaffery. What a wonderful human being.

My entree into horse racing coincided with the Triple Crown rivalry of Free House and Silver Charm. I have wonderful memories of both those grays and it made me smile to read - and remember again - of how she would tease Bob Baffert and of how much she loved her wonderful Free House.

We desperately need the Trudy McCafferys, the Bob and Beverly Lewises, and the Roy and Gretchen Jacksons to show us the heart of racing. May you rest in peace, Ms. McCaffery, along with the "two most important men" in your life. Thanks for the enjoyment and spirit of living you passed on to the rest of us.

Anne Wilson - Paramount, Calif.

Roman move renewed some faith

How refreshing to read about some honesty in the industry! I was impressed with the article about Lawrence Roman returning the money invested by IEAH Stables and Sanford Robbins in the horse Lawrence the Roman ("Roman lets IEAH off the hook," Feb. 14).

It is good to read about what is good and honest in the sport, and not just the dirtier side of racing. I was so hoping that the face that Barbaro's owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, put on racing - of good, kind, and caring owners - would continue, and so it has. For someone who lives and breathes racing, it does the heart good.

Carolyn Beverly Kenney - Benson, N.C.

Turfway track stats a numbers game

Something to consider after reading "Turfway examines injury rise on Polytrack" (Feb. 7): Could not the most recent reports of increases in horses suffering injuries running on Polytrack surfaces be attributed more to the number of horses running on Polytrack than on conventional surfaces?

If tracks using Polytrack had the usual five- and six-horse fields that Maryland and New York routinely put on display, might there not be fewer injuries?

When slot machines finally make their appearance at major New York and Maryland racetracks, and the fields swell proportionately to the increase in purses, will the Polytrack detractors then attribute the increase in injuries to the slots?

Bettors see the Polytrack surfaces as another means (besides slots) to get what we want, and that is larger fields and bigger payoffs.

Carl Poehler - Northampton, Pa.

Name raises question of taste

The Jockey Club, in its approval of names for Thoroughbreds, has finally reached rock bottom for tastelessness.

How else can one possibly explain the issuance of foal papers registering the name Paranoid Schizoid, a horse who raced recently at Penn National Race Course?

Is the Sport of Kings now going to have "sport" at the expense of the sick and disabled? Can we expect to see a filly named Breast Cancer or a gelding named Amputee in the near future?

Both the Jockey Club and the owener who submitted the name should be ashamed. They owe the sport - not to mention the victims of mental illness - a sincere and abject apology.

Robert F. O'Connor - Hershey, Pa.