05/06/2011 8:35PM

Letters to the Editor May 8


Federal move seen as attempt to dismiss local interests

I commend Steven Crist's May 1 column, "Federal regulation not the right solution," for pointing out the folly and danger of proposed federal drug regulation. I share Mr. Crist's concern that the horse racing industry will be hurt by the proposed legislation, which purports to be in horses' welfare.

Mr. Crist questioned "why an increasing number of people within the industry are either neutral or supportive of the prospect of federal involvement . . . ." May I suggest two reasons for such support:

1. The various industry groups and clubs that support the legislation, including gaming commissions and breeders' associations, know that they cannot possibly obtain such rules at the local level. It is not as though comprehensive and detailed medication laws are not in effect - they are certainly in effect, closely monitored and rigorously enforced. The rules, however, exist at the local level, where horsemen, owners, and veterinarians have strong impact and input on the regulations that affect them.

But If furosemide (Lasix or Salix) and phenylbutazone (Butazolidin) are outlawed or phased out, how many horsemen will simply be unable to run their horses? Certainly, small, local racetracks will go out of business. Thousands of Thoroughbred racehorses may be consigned to a dire fate.

2. This legislation is the "thin wedge," the introduction, to much more comprehensive federal regulation and oversight. Could it be that the various groups and clubs that support the legislation are looking for plum federal jobs and oversight boards? Is it unimaginable that we will see federal inspectors at every farm and track, and unionization of stable workers?

The regulation and enforcement of the horse racing industry is best done at a local, not a federal level. It's time for us to contact our congressional members and voice out concern.

Patricia Stanford - Highlands Ranch, Colo.

Coupling rule raises questions

In last Saturday's Westchester at Belmont, Caixa Eletronica and Christmas for Liam ran as uncoupled entrants (different owners, same trainer: Todd Pletcher), but they performed in the same fashion as a coupled entry might have been expected to perform.

Christmas for Liam was the rabbit to soften up the speedy Haynesfield for his entrymate. He performed his role, kept Haynesfield close to the rail, and, with Caixa Eletronica's help, boxed Haynesfield against the rail around the long turn to the stretch. By the time Haynesfield was free to go, he was used up and could not match Caixa Eletronica's late speed.

We know how hungry the New York Racing Association is for bucks these days, and isn't that the reason for the rule allowing for the uncoupling of entrants owned or trained by the same individual?
But what are the consequences of the rule? Is there a downside to it, especially for the bettor? Caixa Eletronica paid $22 to win, while Christmas for Liam would have paid $5.70. Is the bettor simply expected to fathom what is really going on -- the unspoken text of the event - and bet accordingly?

And what, by the way, was the rationale of the older rule ensuring the coupling of entrants owned or trained by the same interests? After all, the old rule had a lengthy and, presumably, a valuable history. In addition to funding the NYRA kitty, is the new rule to be understood as a kind of subsidy to abet a trainer's or owner's tactics in a given race?

James O'Connell - Jamaica, N.Y.