02/03/2012 5:04PM

Letters to the Editor Feb. 5


Owner hears ­announcer's cry loud and clear

In his Jan. 29 letter to the Racing Form, "Track voice calls for accurate closing odds," Michael Wrona took exception to the constant late changes to the final odds displayed on the tote boards and the archaic systems that are used in racing, specifically California racing.

Mr. Wrona deserves the respect and adulation of all racing fans as he takes on the establishment in racing and probably risks his job. He remains a bright light in an industry of dim bulbs. The California Racing Board ignores the problems of late board changes or dealing with trainers who have numerous drug infractions.

I am part-owner of a filly named Ninth Infantry. Last year during the running of a race her odds dropped from 16-1 to 9-1. None of the other horses' odds seemed to reflect this huge change in odds. The change showed on the television screens as it occurred about a quarter-mile into the race. We contacted the racing board and questioned what happened. We were given an interview with a board representative, who basically said that it takes 10 seconds for the odds board to reflect the late money that comes in from the different satellite wagering offices. They said this change took 17 seconds and they were not sure of what happened with the missing seven seconds but were satisfied that everything was okay.

Racing has high-paid executives whose main goal seems to protect their positions by creating an illusion that nobody cheats, and the big gamblers who have access to the tote boards are all honest, and racing is in great shape and we should all watch the television series "Luck."

What we need is a commissioner like baseball and football have to create and preserve the integrity of the game. How about Michael Wrona after he gets fired?

Sandy Weinstock - Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Unpredictable prices cause for alarm

Kudos to Michael Wrona for criticizing the audacious mutuel fluctuations at Golden Gate Fields, although it may cost him his job.

I have lived in Northern California most of my adult life, and have attended racetracks in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Southern California. Lately, I have quit betting Golden Gate because of getting shorted on the mutuels. A few months back, I wagered on a horse who went off at 7-1 and got a $7.60 mutual!

This is ridiculous, and bettors shouldn't stand for it.

Tim Ford - Oakland, Calif.

Late odds shifts part of the game

I am writing in response to two letters regarding odds changes after the gate opens, the most recent from Michael Wrona, track announcer at Golden Gate Fields, and the other on Jan. 8 -- "Game loses its fun when players find they can't win" -- from four California racing fans.

I fully understand no one likes to see their odds drop after the race has started. I have a different take on this issue, though. Horseplayers have seen odds drop at post time for decades. This is not news. We all know that in many cases this is a timing issue. If someone makes a large wager immediately after the next-to-last odds change, naturally the final odds will reflect that wager. In most all cases, that horse is a strong betting choice. No one is going to bet $1,000 to win on a 40-1 shot with 30 seconds to post. If you liked that horse that well, you would never take a chance on getting shut out. In addition, a shrewd bettor would bet such a horse early in the betting to drop the odds to 15-1 or so. This would cause very little tote action thereafter as this horse is now a huge underlay. In addition, if with two minutes to post a player sees a 3-1 shot who should be 9-5, he should be able to figure out that he is not the only betting patron on this planet who sees that, and the next odds change or two will even this out.

Account wagering also contributes to this. On many occasions I will put on the video for a track and wait until I see the assistant starter grab the 1 horse, then I make my wager. This takes about ten seconds -- before half of the field is even in the gate. Finally, have you noticed that when odds drop on a certain horse, they shoot up on others? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think any player has ever complained when a winner went from 8-1 while they were in the gate and 11-1 going down the backstretch.

Rick Higgins - Columbus, Ohio

Breeding should end speed emphasis

The Jan. 26 article "Speed genetics traced 300 years," went partway in explaining the current decline of the modern Thoroughbred in noting the proliferation of the Nearctic (Northern Dancer) line. The misconception of how valuable this line is has produced the existing dominant strain of speed-crazy, unsound bleeders who now pervade the Thoroughbred as we know it.

The power of such breeding has led the makeup of the breed to its current slow but steady decline. The Northern Dancer descendants have breakdanced their way to the near-delicate animal currently racing.

The Nov. 19 DRF Weekend article "Lasix: Demystifying the drug, methods of training without it," quoted the late veterinarian Alex Harthill as claiming the first acknowledged use of Lasix -- on Northern Dancer in his Kentucky Derby win. This persistent bleeder has managed to pass on not only his ridiculous "speed gene" but also his bleeding component to his long and enduring genetic line.

Isn't it about time that Nearctic is bred out of existence to preserve the breed?

Bob Tiritilli - Glendale, Calif.

California penalty barely slapped wrist

I read with a degree of astonishment the Feb. 1 Santa Anita notebook item "Sadler fined for drug violations" about the $1,500 fine levied recently against John Sadler for two medication violations.

According to the article, two of Sadler's horses tested positive for the muscle relaxant methocarbamol on two racing dates at Hollywood Park in November.

Last year, Sadler's horses earned $6.75 million. Figuring on a 10-percent cut alone, Sadler earned more than $675,000, and that doesn't take into account the fees his owners pay him.

Does the California Horse Racing Board honestly think that a $1,500 fine for two medical violations is a penalty?

In this day and age, where the public is growing more cynical about the propensity of trainers to push the limits of the rules involving drug use, this only furthers the distrust of bettors for California racing.

One of Sadler's fellow California trainers who has also run afoul of the medication rules in the past is Jeff Mullins. Mullins, we'll recall, was once famously quoted as stating "If you bet on horses, I would call you an idiot."

If trainers like Mullins and Sadler are consistently given pathetic fines like this, it only serves to encourage more trainers to break the rules and insult the integrity of the sport.

Meyer Cohan - Rye, N.Y.