08/23/2010 6:03PM

Letters to the Editor Aug. 22


Numbers game constrained by technology

Alan Shuback wrote in his Aug. 12 drf.com blog entry that “Zenyatta was quoted in many publications as the 1-9 favorite” in the Aug. 7 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes. Shuback was correct when he said to do so was inaccurate, as Zenyatta actually was 1-10, not 1-9. As Shuback noted, it is a mathematical impossibility for a horse to be 1-9 the way the American parimutuel system works.

Shuback also wrote that “the reason so many of us have come to accept 1-9 as a fact is our antiquated tote board system, one that is incapable of displaying a two-digit number in the place of the divisor, that is, the 10 in 1-10. . . . This 1-9 business has gotten so out of hand that some morning line makers are even quoting horses at that impossible price.”

Yes, in order to be accurate, a person must state Zenyatta was “a 1-10 favorite” and not “a 1-9 favorite” in the Clement L. Hirsch. But it is a fact that Zenyatta was 1-9 on the tote board. So person also is accurate as long as they state she was a “1-9 favorite on the tote board.”

Rachel Alexandra was a 1-9 favorite in the program when she ran in the July 24 Lady’s Secret Stakes at Monmouth Park. I also made Zenyatta a 1-9 morning-line favorite in the program when she ran in the March 13 Santa Margarita Handicap at Santa Anita.

Through the years, a horse has been listed at 1-9 instead of 1-10 on the morning line because 1-9 is what the public sees on the tote board. Not only that, most if not all computer and printing formats currently are set up like the American tote systems in being capable of listing a horse at 1-9 but not at 1-10.

I agree with Shuback that 1-9 belongs in the ashcan. I look forward to the day when tote boards and computer and printing formats are updated so they have the capability of listing a horse at 1-10 instead of 1-9. And when that day comes, I will be happy in the very rare instances I believe it is warranted to make a horse 1-10 or even 1-20 instead of 1-9 on the morning line.

Jon White - Santa Anita morning-line maker

Del Mar train nears arrival

Four years of advocacy may be paying off. What common sense suggests is needed at Del Mar: A train stop at the rear of the track that will bring race fans directly to the races from Los Angeles and Orange counties via Amtrak and everywhere else via the Coaster trains is now poised to happen.

The Race Track Leasing Commission has placed a provision in the request for proposal for the very lucrative contract to run races at Del Mar requiring the winner of that contract to participate in discussing the funding options for a permanent seasonal rail platform.

That not only would facilitate added ontrack attendance, but would alleviate the already congested I-5 traffic jams that promise to get only worse with the new fall meet likely to come to Del Mar from weeks transferred from the eventual closing of Hollywood Park. The transfers of some weeks from Hollywood are already allowed by state law, thanks to the local assemblyman Martin Garrick, who heads the Republican caucus in the state legislature.

There is developing a last-minute glitch, however, as the fair board staff – which runs the state-owned fairgrounds – are now proposing a so called “temporary” stop a half-mile south of the fair entrance deep in the neighborhoods south of the river.

We will remain focused on the establishment of the permanent one.

Helen and Richard Nielsen-Eckfield - Carlsbad, Calif.