06/16/2006 12:00AM

Triple Crown rigors maintain historic ties

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Triple Crown rigors maintain historic ties

Regarding Mike Watchmaker's June 7 column, "Triple Crown series: If it ain't broke. . . ," I couldn't agree more. How else to compare Triple Crown winners and the greatness of Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and others to the best in history?

In baseball, home runs are being watered down to the point of becoming ho-hum events. If one wants to win the Triple Crown, breed for it, train for it - earn it. Stop whining about how hard it is to do. That doesn't sound American to me.

Triple Crown winners and their connections deserve a debt of honor to maintain their lofty achievement. They earned it, and their greatness, because of it, lives on.

With the mindset of today's trainers, owners, and breeders, I wonder if we would have ever witnessed a healthy rivalry such as that of Affirmed and Alydar.

Donald Altemose
Greenville, Ind.

Spacing of jewels needs adjusting

The industry must revise the spacing of Triple Crown races, which puts the horses in unnecessary danger.

No trainer would run a horse in a Grade 1 route and run him back in a Grade 1 route two weeks later and then run them back in a 1 1/2-mile Grade 1 three weeks hence. In more than 20 years of following racing, I have never seen it outside the Triple Crown. If a trainer did such a thing and the horse broke down like Barbaro in the Preakness, that trainer would be excoriated by the industry and the public.

Cheap claimers run every two weeks. Graded-stakes horses run, oh, six to 10 times per year. Why? The horse needs two weeks to recover, and more time to resume training. This also provides the time for any injury incurred in the previous race and hard training time to manifest itself. Why should the Triple Crown treat the best 3-year-olds of each generation like cheap platers?

Lenville O'Donnell
Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Road to future goes through desert

In regard to Mike Watchmaker's June 14 column, "Evidence we're entering a new era," I would take the argument one step further. As I follow racing both in North America and Europe, in the 1990's, when Middle Eastern influences started becoming interested in the Triple Crown, I looked at their success in Group 1 races in England and France, and I thought: It's just a matter of time.

For years some of our media laughed at their approach to the Kentucky Derby. Having followed the Canadian International back to the early 1970's, I knew that horses who race only twice a year can win if they are prepped properly.

Anyway, notice that horses owned by the Maktoum family of Dubai just won two-thirds of the Triple Crown. That's the change in the times we ought to be aware of, and I do not say this with any prejudice. I am very appreciative of the money they spend to encourage the development and maintenance of high-class bloodlines.

John Kertesz
Mississauga, Ontario

Modern fragility seen as reversible

This whole mystery about why so many horses break down these days is really not that difficult to figure. For years now I've been reading all theories about (1) too much racing, (2) too much inbreeding, (3) racing them too young, (4) racing surfaces that are too hard or uneven (5) etc., etc.

Start with the obvious: Get rid of the steroids. Too many horses at all major tracks are now on steroids. Unless you have had your head buried in the sand the last five years, we have all read over and over the perils of steroids.

If racing was any bit serious about the safety and fragility of today's Thoroughbred, it would immediately get rid of steroids, as have most other major sports.

This really isn't that difficult.

Dave Lengel
Wernersville, Pa.