06/03/2011 5:44PM

Letters to the Editor June 5


Common sense calls for keeping dimes in pockets

I read with interest the May 15 letter to the editor, "No reason to shun dime bettors" and the May 29 letter in response, "Ten-cent customers can get in the way." I look at it this way. You have close to 160,000 in attendance at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day, and the truth is that many of these people will not even know how to place a bet - any type of bet, period.

A Derby crowd is teeming with tourists, first-time visitors, and newcomers. This already puts an extra strain on the mutuel clerks, not to mention the delays at the self-service terminals when one of these people decides to try and figure out how to use it. There already is chaos, and allowing 10-cent betting would only add to it. You get the picture.

Churchill Downs does a fine job in making sure that people are able to get their bets in on time, such as allowing more time between races and by eliminating the time-consuming 10-cent bets. You want people to come away from the Derby with fond memories and having had the opportunity to cash a ticket or two.

To allow 10-cent betting only online on Derby Day would not solve anything. The payoffs would be smaller and it would also discourage ontrack attendance. In this day and age we want to encourage, not discourage, ontrack attendance.

Paul Lambrakis - Seal Beach, Calif.

Snow Chief led outstanding crew

Jay Hovdey's May 19 column, "Solid gold cast in '86 Preakness," brought back great times for me. The photograph of Snow Chief putting away Ferdinand that day was awesome.

The greatest race I witnessed was the 1987 Strub Stakes, with Snow Chief prevailing over Ferdinand by a nose, with Patrick Valenzuela in the saddle. I have a tape recording of the race and listen to it once in a while. The final words of the race call by Trevor Denman are electrifying, as he could not separate the two at the wire. I was also at the 1987 Santa Anita Handicap when Broad Brush defeated Ferdinand by a nose after Snow Chief burned himself out on the hot pace. Ferdinand then found glory in the Breeders' Cup Classic that year, beating fellow Kentucky Derby winner Alysheba, a matchup the likes of which may never happen again.

Snow Chief was my favorite horse, a gutty little California-bred who would mix it up with the best of them. That class of '86 was indeed solid gold.

Russell J. Salvador - West Covina, Calif.

All these years later, Kelso a vivid image

Jay Hovdey's May 29 column, "A must-see horse we got to see often," about the great Kelso was right on the money. (Even if combining a reminder of just how great this fabulous animal was with mention of two present-day horses - the Australian Black Caviar and the English Frankel - is to lessen Kelso's memory.)

Just have a look at Kelso's life record and you will see how amazing this horse's accomplishments were. So much weight was placed on his back that the only realistic option that his connections had was to run him in the weight-for-age stakes in the fall, and he won many of those great races over a span of over five seasons, primarily over the tracks that still make up the New York circuit.

These were the days when Aqueduct and Belmont were virtually packed to capacity on the summer holidays when he was challenged by those upstarts who had the nerve to get in the gate with him. Fred Capossella's dramatic calling brought shivers to my spine, followed by the long, loud roar of the appreciative crowds, as he paraded back onto the stretch, returning to his palace, the winner's circle. Yes, Kelso did have his off days, but the magician in him always came back for more, forging a championship season year after year after year.

In my mind (and heart), there will never be another one like him. Thank you, Kelso, for a lifetime of memories.

William C. Norvell, Jr. - Houston, Texas

Look to the links for lightning policy

Jay Hovdey wrote in his June 3 column, "Sometimes, lightning actually strikes," about the danger to jockeys whenever there is lightning, and it is a situation that should be treated as seriously in horse racing as it is on the PGA tour.

If lightning occurs in the vicinity of the golf course, play is halted and golfers are instructed to leave the course for safety reasons.

I also have often wondered why races are run from time to time even when there is little visibility as to what happens during the race because of fog. I think the sport has been very lucky there has never been a serious accident when races have been run despite fog.

As Hovdey expressed the matter, "This is horse racing, not a SEAL Team 6 operation, and the loss of a few races should be no big deal in the larger scheme of things."

Jon White - Monrovia, Calif.