05/11/2012 5:08PM

Letters to the Editor May 13


Smaller markets an important part of sport's big picture

I would like to take some issue with the April 15 letter to the editor headlined "Shedding baggage can help business." I have a unique perspective when it comes to what was written, since I am the announcer at Turf Paradise and Lincoln Race Course.

The letter suggested that a list of racetracks needed to close for a variety of reasons, and Turf Paradise was one of those listed. I would, at this time, like to point out that the writer's local racetrack, Lincoln Race Course, will indeed be closing at the end of the upcoming season through reasons completely out of its control.

As a result, many fine people that I have come to know through the last several seasons will be scrambling for work elsewhere. This is the unspoken part of the letter-writer's comments. If these racetracks were to close, how many countless, hardworking, professional horsemen and women would be put out of work at a time when the national economy does not need more people unemployed?

Also, how would simulcast handle be affected at those tracks the letter suggested stay open if some lesser tracks were to close? When the track in Lincoln closes, locals will have to travel the 50 miles to Omaha and go to Horsemen's Park to simulcast wager. If the writer is a "lifelong race fan" as he claims, hopefully he will have the conviction to do that on a regular basis.

Closing tracks negatively impacts the entire industry, from top to bottom, because if you shut out players who currently have a lower-level track (and do not legally have access to Internet wagering), they cannot bet on the races, they cannot enjoy a day at the races, and they cannot grow to love this game as many of us do. It would be completely retarding the growth of the game to  implement what the letter was espousing.

Not every racetrack can be Keeneland, Belmont, or Santa Anita. That is the sad fact we face here. To make a comparison, not every hotel can be the Waldorf-Astoria. Does that mean that every Red Roof Inn, Motel  6, or Holiday Inn Express needs to close? Of course not. People need places to stay all over this country of ours, just in the same way that racing fans in some of racing's lesser markets should have places to go and enjoy the game that they love.

Reckless suggestions and opinions would do more harm than good to the racing industry as a whole. That is also a fact.

Michael Chamberlain - Lincoln, Neb.