01/18/2013 5:43PM

Letters to the Editor Dec. 20

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Game's young talent deserves celebration with apprentice prize

I have read and heard of some people's desire to abolish the Eclipse Award for apprentice riders, as reflected in the Jan. 12 letter to the Racing Form, "Eclipse rider comes to defense of apprentice award," by the 1981 recipient, Richard Migliore.

Let's not be too harsh on the apprentice riders of today. They are victimized by circumstance.

I have been saying for years that the days of apprentice sensations are gone. The most noteworthy reason is because of the lost of opportunity we have witnessed over the recent years. With the reduction of racing dates (often to four-day race weeks), the apprentice is most affected. Furthermore, for that very reason, the slashing of racing dates, we may never see record-setting journeymen like Laffit Pincay and Russell Baze again.

Generally speaking, apprentice riders excel Monday through Friday, and their production drags on the weekends, when better races and higher purses are usually showcased. Thus when you see weekday racing days cut back to perhaps just Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, it has a significant effect. To compound the effect is the fact that it is now commonplace to see the weekends with several or more stakes carded on a single day that all but eliminate the use of an apprentice.  In addition, it has always been difficult for an apprentice to sustain his or her career upon losing the bug but now, for specific reasons, it has even become of greater difficulty.

The Jockeys' Guild, in fair representation, should address this situation. Compensation should be made for the "bug riders," for they are meant to be tomorrow's stars. It is a wholesome tradition worth preserving. I suggest something like allowing the weight concession to continue at three pounds for a calendar year or some modification. This would not interfere with the star riders and the major stakes.

We must nurture our young talent and give them the opportunity they deserve.

Harry "The Hat" Hacek - Hollywood, Calif.

Dutrow's penalty seen as out of line

As a longtime horseman, horseplayer, and follower of the American judicial system, I find the action by racing regulators to end Richard Dutrow Jr.'s career to be a gross miscarriage of justice ("Dutrow to begin suspension," Jan 18).
Dutrow's supposed transgressions are no more egregious than wha
t his fellow trainers have been given suspensions of no more than 90 days for. He is being made to look like the face of all that ails the racing industry.

Dutrow is a superb trainer who lives and dies with his horses. Over the years I have watched him turn claimers into graded stakes winners and transform horses coming off very long layoffs into winners again.

Dutrow's biggest mistake would seem to be an inability to follow the rules, pushing the system to the breaking point, and his major fault a lack of communication skills with humans. I am sure the industry was cringing when he gave his Big Brown steroid speech, but he was just being honest in his own way that day.

In our theoretically forgiving society, a person's livelihood should not be taken away for the rest of his life for what Mr. Dutrow has done.

Jay Stone - Hallandale, Fla.