10/07/2011 7:39PM

Letters to the Editor Oct. 9

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Stakes victories shed some value over the years

After reading articles such as "3-year-old division title up for grabs" (Aug. 3), I found myself, again, pondering the merits of this 2011 crop of 3-year-olds.

I haven't missed watching and often betting the important events for both the fillies and colts. The only consistent thing I have seen displayed is inconsistency. On any given Saturday or Sunday, in a graded stakes for these young horses, any one of them can win, with or without the seasoning that one associates with accomplished individuals.

While for some people it makes for interesting betting opportunities, for serious handicappers it doesn't, because we see it as a mere guessing game. Consequently, we often elect to pass the race rather than just guess our money away. That's racing's loss.

This phenomenon isn't new. I have noticed it over the last few years. Over time, I have arrived at a plausible theory. So many horses who simply get black type on their records, particularly in graded races, are hastily retired to stud duty, which, of course, can be prove very lucrative. But many of these new stallions got what I see as artificial black type. I say that because of the "who did he beat?" question.

When there are no true standouts in a crop of horses, coupled with the fact that often they were high-end claimers, or worse yet, were defeated at some point by a claimer, then what determines their actual intrinsic value?

In my opinion, the rush to send horses to the lucrative breeding sheds is diluting out the true champion qualities of decades past.

I suspect that the breed is becoming weaker rather than more robust. I think that's readily apparent considering the fact that horses with no real credentials, horses with no more than a maiden victory, horses who have struggled to win a "one-other-than," horses having raced exclusively on artificial surfaces, and those who have spent time beating claimers, can step up and win graded stakes.

One can conclude only that horses considered champions in this era may be far less than that. They may, in fact, be quite ordinary, and those ordinary genes are being passed on to their offspring, which only weakens the breed.

Champions should be tried and true -- outstanding products of the breed - certainly not ordinary.

Martin Rogers - St. Louis