03/11/2011 6:58PM

Letters to the Editor March 13

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Big Cap ruling a real puzzler in light of another

I am a longtime racing fan and have been attending Santa Anita since 1984. I am also a serious handicapper and think I have a relatively good sense of impartial judgment.

I simply don't understand the Santa Anita stewards' decisions recently. On Thursday, March 3, in the first race, Jax El was disqualified from third to fourth. The stewards cited (via Trevor Denman's explanation), that Jax El had come out and bumped into Fullbridled's Sis, causing interference. It was clear in the head-on shot of the stretch, however, that Fullbridled's Sis came in about a path and a half immediately before Jax El came out. That obvious point was overlooked by the stewards and Jax El was taken down. By the way, I had no monetary or any other vested interest in this race.

Then in the stretch run of the Big Cap on Saturday, Twirling Candy barely comes in, while Game On Dude comes out badly twice, causing interference with both Twirling Candy and more importantly, Setsuko. We all know the stewards' decision: No change.

All of this makes no sense to me. The situations were nearly identical, yet the stewards' decisions were not. Was there not an infraction of the rules in the Big Cap by somebody? How did this differ from the race on Thursday? Either racing has rules or it doesn't. Furthermore, the amount of the purse or who the trainer or jockey is should not influence their decisions.

The perception here is that the stewards made a mistake with their decision in the Big Cap. How are we, the wagering public, supposed to have confidence in the judges when they clearly do not have a consistent set of rules that they go by?

Jerry Hauck - Studio City, Calif.

Small outfits need life-support money

The Feb. 13 letter to the Racing Form, "Proposed levy in New York a tax too far," was great, and I hope to pick up where it left off.

Dozens and dozens of races all over the country every day are cheap races - $5,000 to $25,000 for open races, maiden claimers, nonwinners of two or three. These races keep the sport afloat. These are the horses the small outfits have. Without them there would be no racing. They're the unsung heroes who are the heart of the racing game, and they are desperately in need of some relief.

It's not only the initial investment in a horse, it's the monthly expenses that are the biggest problem. Here is a proposal I have made before: If everyone got $1,000 a start, it would provide much-needed relief on training bills, veterinary bills, shoeing, and transportation.

Kentucky racing has been my life for five decades as an owner, trainer, and handicapper. I see that a part of racing is booming. Churchill Downs makes millions on Kentucky Derby week. Now, the Derby is the greatest thing in racing - I just don't see why Churchill can't share some of the wealth. It would give racing in Kentucky a shot in the arm it desperately needs. It would also benefit Churchill Downs by creating bigger fields with higher handle.
It burns me up when Churchill calls horses "our product" when it's the owner/trainers who pay all the expenses. Horsemen and handicappers should stand up and be heard. One thing for sure: Racing can't make it without us.

Billy G. Ashabraner - Clarksville, Ind.

Pervasive Lasix use raises questions

I have been concerned about why nearly all horses are on Lasix. I thought that the drug was for a horse who bleeds. So it seems that all horses running are bleeders. Does that mean that the breeding of these horses is causing defects?

I may be wrong, but could Lasix be used for another purpose? It just seems odd that they all run on it. First-time starters, I notice, do. They must have bled when they worked.

This is just an inquiry from an old groom from the track.

Sandy Chipman - Canoe, British Columbia