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Original Issue


Congratulations on your really excellent article, Here the Sport Is Going Sour (June 8). E. Barry Ryan has said a lot of things that needed to be said, and he has said them forcefully and with the authority born of personal experience.

Certainly he has put things in focus. It remains to be seen what racing men will do about it.
Editor, The Chronicle of the Horse
Middleburg, Va.

I agree heartily with E. Barry Ryan's analysis of modern horse racing. His opinions of owners, trainers, stable personnel and management reflect a realistic and dangerous situation.

I think we can attribute most of the damage to people such as Trainer Buddy Jacobson and his attitudes toward horses (It's Not a Sport, It's a Business, June 8). Jacobson may have been ranked No. 1 in America, but I wouldn't let him train my cheapest plater.

Thank heaven for trainers like Jimmy Jones, Burley Parke, Bill Finnegan, Bert Mulholland and the others who maintain the sensible, "old-fashioned" methods which promote horse racing—the sport, not the business.
Miami Beach

The article by E. Barry Ryan has no doubt aroused responses of righteous wrath and indignation toward those who would install Mammon as the next racing commissioner. However, I have some straight-from-the-shoulder advice for Mr. Ryan:

•Before commenting about the unkempt attendants, he should take a look at the audience.

•Is he trying to undermine the economy of the country by putting concessionaires, heating contractors, binocular manufacturers and betting-slip publishers out of business? Besides, the people of this country need heady, invigorating sports like sitting in heated bleachers and watching horses half a mile away.

•Take off those bandages, throw away that straw and hay and run those horses twice as often. With the growing number of school children in this country, we need more glue.
Bradford, Pa.

Bravo! Bravo for E. Barry Ryan! However, as I'm sure Mr. Ryan would agree, criticizing the basic commercialism of Thoroughbred racing is not apropos either. The years of training and study and hard work by the real professional horsemen should be rewarded. Further, tax receipts accruing to those states that permit racing are usually evidenced in the superiority of their school and highway systems.

However, it would be wonderful if Mr. Ryan's efforts were rewarded by inspiring a few of our "new" horse people to pause and admire the object of their affection. Perhaps the entrance to each Thoroughbred plant should bear the old saying: "There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man."
Charlottesville, Va.

To my mind, the problems confronting racing must be shouldered by those who make racing possible, the owners and breeders. It is they who really control the sport, and it is they who set the standards of excellence spoken of by Mr. Ryan.
Ojai, Calif.

My guess is that "man's admiration for the horse and man's endless quest to discover which of several is the fastest" has little to do with the popularity of racing.

What brings people out to see an assortment of bandaged-up nags wallow their way through the last three races on a hot summer day is the dream of picking a winner at odds of 4 to 1 or better.

Gambling, and not horse racing, soccer, football or baseball, is the world's favorite sport. Indeed, any time we are worried about the declining popularity of some lesser sport, there is one easy solution: install a few parimutuel windows on the premises.
Ann Arbor, Mich.

I agree with Trainer Ryan all the way. I came to the U.S. from Ireland after having served four years' apprenticeship in Yorkshire, England. I was hoping to get into racing here, but when I saw how much of a difference there is I was sorely disappointed. Mr. Ryan's statement on the tardiness of grooms and exercise boys and their disrespect to a governor (or boss, as they say here) is so true.

When I was serving my apprenticeship I worked 14 hours a day, seven days a week, and received two shillings pay. I mucked out stables for one year before I even got on a horse's back. Sure, we apprentices in Ireland and England sometimes grumbled about it, but when the day came to put on the silks and ride in a race in public we realized what we had worked for all that time.

If the U.S. had more trainers like E. Barry Ryan, then maybe racing would regain its Utopia.

Without a doubt there are grooms on the race course that fit Mr. Ryan's description, but as an owner-trainer and stable foreman in Australia and as a groom in California, I have yet to find him. I have found instead men who, given the proper leadership and instruction, will work long hours for the lowest wages in the sport. They must have a love of the horse or they wouldn't be in the game. Most of them know more than the trainers they work for, and without them—their knowledge and hard work—the sad-legged horses they care for would never get to the post. There may be something wrong with the sport. But it's not the groom.
San Gabriel, Calif.

As a motor-racing enthusiast in general and an A. J. Foyt fan in particular, I greatly appreciated your article, Driver in a Tight Corner (June 1). It revealed a side of Mr. Foyt that the average race fan would never know. I was fortunate enough to be in the pits at both the Daytona and Sebring races and was able to observe A. J. at close hand. At Daytona he worked right alongside the mechanics in making last-minute preparations.

He is truly the greatest all-round driver of our time, and one word sums him up, his own: "voom."
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

I want to take this opportunity to thank SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for the real nice story you did on me. Naturally, it was a great thrill to me to win the race and, particularly, to compete against such great drivers as Rodger Ward, Parnelli Jones and Jimmy Clark. A great deal of credit must be given to my chief mechanic, George Bignotti, who did an outstanding job in preparing the car for the race.
Speedway, Ind.

This year at the Indianapolis 500 two drivers were killed and one was seriously injured by fire (The Magnificent and the Macabre, June 8).

Some have blamed the fires on gasoline and have said it should be banned. But alcohol can, and this year did, catch fire. The only adequate protection for the driver would be an automatic fire-extinguishing system that would surround the car with foam as soon as a fire ignited. A system such as this should be installed and made mandatory immediately on all race cars.

The chief cause of this year's holocaust was not the type of fuel or the type of car design but, instead, the flying start of 33 cars in rows of three abreast.

Let's change the rules. Start these races single file. Avoid this undue exposure to chain-reaction crashes. Certainly it should not materially affect the outcome of the races—and it may save a life or two.
Pequannock, N.J.

•For an analysis of proposed reforms, see page 54.—ED.

The score still reads: Sam Snead 3, Ben Hogan 1. Alfred Wright missed the boat completely (A Dream Match Produces a Dream Round, June 8). He had the last chance to make a true comparison between the greatest match player (Snead) and the greatest medal player (Hogan). Unfortunately the end result was a slanted article on the merits of Ben Hogan's game.

Remember, Snead is probably the best money player of all time. Only the U.S. Open has escaped the great slammer and that is partially due, I'd guess, to extra pressure exerted by sportswriters who have tagged him a choke artist since 1939, when he missed his chance to win the Open by taking an eight on the last hole.
Arcadia, Calif.

Congratulations on your long-awaited article recognizing lacrosse as an existing sport (Federal Power Takes Over, June 8). Unfortunately, you implied that our fair state of Maryland has lost its power as the producer of topnotch lacrosse teams and players.

Although lacrosse is greatly expanding due to its increasing popularity, the fact remains that Maryland is still the center of the lacrosse world. Not only do we have three of the most consistent top five teams in the country (Navy, Maryland and Hopkins), the best small-college team (Washington College) and the best club team (Mount Washington), but the nuclei of such other lacrosse powers as Virginia and Princeton are Maryland high school graduates.
Chestertown, Md.

It is obvious, after reading Mr. Kaplan's letter (19TH HOLE, June 8), that his love for hockey is exceeded only by his complete ignorance of attendance in the National Basketball Association.

During the 1963-64 season, the 18th for the NBA, attendance for the 360 regular season games went over the two-million mark for the first time in the history of the league. The total for preseason exhibitions, regular-season and playoff contests exceeded the 2.5 million mark—highest ever—as were the players' individual shares for both the San Francisco Warriors and Boston Celtics

For the first time in the history of any club, the Boston Celtics sold out, within hours, for each of six home playoff dates, and there is no telling what the attendance might have been if the Boston Garden had the capacity of a baseball park.

While Mr. Kaplan continues in his blissful ignorance, possibly he might start comparing the salaries of most NBA players with those of his favorite sport!
Editor, NBA Guide

I read with interest your comments on the Indianapolis 500 closed-circuit telecast (SCORECARD, June 8) in which you state that "the picture, like all theater TV, seemed a dull brown." I feel that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has failed to note the technological change in theater TV quality introduced by Theatre Network Television. In sports events like the National Football League Championship game in Chicago and the Liston-Clay fight, TNT catapulted large-screen closed-circuit TV into a new era of excellent presentation.

TNT did not participate in the Indianapolis 500 telecast. We think SPORTS ILLUSTRATED should recognize the difference between closed-circuit telecasts rather than leave its readers with the impression that all theater TV is poor.
President, Theatre Network Television
New York City