04/13/2012 11:46AM

Letters to the editor for April 15


Owner’s remarks on matter of weight strike fan as bogus
After campaigning to make his horse Havre de Grace a Horse of the Year, owner Rick Porter now complains that she would have to carry top weight (six pounds more than Plum Pretty) in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn (“Change of plans for Havre de Grace,” April 9). So he’s going to take his saddle and go home.
He was also quoted in the New York Daily News that handicap races should be abolished. “When you play golf,” he said, “everyone else starts out with the same score. Racing should be the same way.” Guess he never got weight from another horse. Sure don’t recall hearing him complain before.
Guess that means that when he sends Havre de Grace into this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic to defend her fourth-place finish, he’ll waive the three-pound weight allowance she got last year as a filly. If he’s lucky she’ll come in fourth again and the judges will somehow again declare that makes her the best horse in the country. 
Al Montella
South Ozone Park, N.Y.

Shedding baggage can help business
As a 41-year-old lifelong race fan, I feel it’s time for some tough love for the industry.
Racing is its own worst enemy and has itself to blame for declining attendance and wagering. There is a laundry list of issues: late odds-drops, drug violations, questionable disqualifications, tracks running races simultaneously – I could go on for an hour.
The main problem, however, is that there are simply too many bad tracks. Racing can’t stand on its own feet without the aid of slots and other gaming machines. I say if a track can’t make it based on its own product, it should close and go away. Cheap tracks like Beulah, Turf Paradise, Turfway Park, Portland Meadows, to name just a few, need to close. They hurt field sizes at other tracks and water down racing.
Bad tracks lure bad jockeys. They get short fields of over-raced horses who nobody cares about or bets on. In the meantime, all slots have done is give inflated purses to cheap horses at tracks like Parx, Charles Town, etc. The owners there are not reinvesting that money and buying higher-quality horses, so what is the point of giving huge, slots-fueled purses to cheap horses?
Closing down some relatively bush-league tracks will increase field size at the better tracks while weeding out incompetent, low-level ham-and-egger jockeys, too – ones who could never get a decent mount at Belmont or Santa Anita.
Racing should stop using slots as a crutch. If a car dealership can’t sell cars, it simply goes out of business, it doesn’t try to get slot machines to save its business, and racing should take heed. All slots do is delay the inevitable and hide the fact that racing is not and cannot be self-sufficient in most cases.
Jeff Richardson
Lincoln, Neb.