06/15/2012 6:00PM

Letters to the Editor June 17

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Fewer race days would provide several benefits

The initiative by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reform racing at the major New York tracks run by the New York Racing Association ("NYRA agrees to state control," May 24) offers an opportunity to consider the many proposals and suggestions raised by those who believe the quality and performance of our business can be improved.

One such issue is the number of races and race days conducted by the tracks. I would implore all those with a role in this decision to opt for less racing. What would be the effect, for example, of racing three days a week in January and February, and four days a week in December, March and possibly the two weeks before the start of Saratoga?
I believe sounder horses, bigger fields, better-maintained racing surfaces, and a healthy, seasonal rhythm to life on the backside as its pace would progressively build from a winter quarters feeling to high season and then slowly wind down. A racing calendar with this profile will sharply reduce or end the thankless task of a racing secretary's staff, who must continuously prevail on trainers to enter their horses to "make races go."

The conflict is very troublesome: Do trainers accede to these requests to help fill the racing card and preserve a cooperative relationship with the racing secretary, or do they not enter the horse because it is in the best interests of the horse. Eliminating the need for this practice would be welcomed all concerned.

Shortening the racing schedule will certainly affect the incomes of those whose compensation is tied to the count of racing days. Racetrack people, however, are resourceful, hardy souls who will work two or three jobs to make do. Ultimately, the paramount concern, we are repeatedly told, is the health and welfare of the horse. It is time we paid more than lip service to this commandment.

Jeffrey Tucker - New York City

Velazquez delivers at the highest level

In the Belmont Stakes, Michael Matz learned what fellow trainers Graham Motion and Todd Pletcher have known for quite a while: that when you have a "ready" horse, and you put John Velazquez in the saddle, you will be successful, without excuses.

Velazquez delivers far more often than he disappoints. Pletcher has trained many stakes winners, but aside from his Kentucky Derby winner, his greatest triumphs have been shared with John Velazquez.

Harvey Hochberg - Delray Beach, Fla.