02/17/2012 5:25PM

Letters to the Editor Feb. 19


Owners defend trainer Sadler on his merits

In regard to the Feb. 5 letter "California penalty barely slapped wrist," about fines levied against John Sadler and mentioning Jeff Mullins: We cannot speak for Jeff Mullins, but our family has owned horses their entire life, and John Sadler has been our trainer for the last 15 great years.

It is true that for two minor drug infractions, fines were assessed to Sadler. The degree of punishment for offenses for different classes of medication varies with the severity of the drug and the infraction. This use of this drug was a low-class infraction, and carried a low-cost fine in comparison with others. But it was a fine, and he paid it. For the most part John Sadler does not go right out and get a lawyer, he pays his fines.

It should be noted that great improvement has been made in the testing of horses and the validity of these tests. Trainers, veterinarians, and management have worked very hard to come up with a better way of being sure these tests are true, accurate, and correct. John Sadler, now president of the California Thoroughbred Trainers, has for the last 10-plus years been involved in weekly meetings to improve drug testing, workers' compensation, life for backstretch workers, safety for riders, racing surfaces, and many more issues.

Trainers are responsible for anything and everything that happens to their horses 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This a daunting task. Sadler, much to his credit, now has 24-hour surveillance and pays for it out of his pocket.

When people start talking about the money a trainer makes, especially one as successful as Sadler, they should know that these trainers, and for sure Sadler, spend more money per day than they charge for day money. I know this firsthand, and I am the type of owner who spends many a morning watching the work that goes on behind the scenes. I do believe anyone who actually knows the full story about how hard most trainers work -- their effort, their costs, their stress levels -- would never write such an offensive letter about John Sadler.

Horse racing as a business and horse racing as a sport needs improvement in so many areas, and there has been much work done to improve the sport. One thing cannot be improved on, though. That is the quality of certain trainers who have dedicated their lives to the sport of horse racing. John Sadler is one of those people.

Lee and Susan Searing - Claremont, Calif.

Training business not all riches

Yes, a high-profile trainer like John Sadler makes a great deal of money.

But out of the $675,000 referred to in a Feb. 5 letter, he has expenses such as his help, exercise riders, veterinarians, feed, and other considerations.

Then there is the matter of the trainer-responsibility rule. The trainer takes the hit for everything and everybody. It's a tough job. Providing a trainer can get eight hours of sleep, let's call it 16 hours, seven days a week. Mistakes will be made.

Vic Bulaich  - Inglewood, Calif.

Cup can thrive with network change

Steven Crist's Jan. 29 column, "Cup's return to NBC can only be good," about the Breeders' Cup, was right on the money given that the network's parent company, Comcast, has been looking to expand distribution of NBC Sports Network, which has expanded its horse racing coverage in the past year and where the sport can actually grow.

While in 2012 only the BC Classic will actually be on NBC, the Classic is lined up to be the first-ever prime-time telecast of Thoroughbred racing on an over-the-air network. The move can only help the Breeders' Cup, with many people under 45 -- who have grown up with the championship events in the big four pro sports at night for more than 20 years -- taking the Breeders' Cup more seriously.

For those lamenting the move from ESPN, there was a reason that the BC was being marginalized: the exploding popularity of college football and increasing contractual commitments to college football on the Disney-owned networks, not wanting to risk losing some of those viewers to Fox, which will be televising Pac-12 games this fall.

This looks like a good move at the right time given how much has changed just from the last time NBC last had the BC seven years ago.

Walter Parker - Philadelphia