In his attack on horse racing and Smarty Jones ["It's a Run for the Money," Sports, May 23], Mike Wise contended that the "merchandising" of Smarty Jones through memorabilia sales is about making "lots of money" for the connections of the horse that seemed destined to win a Triple Crown.
He did not mention that Roy and Patricia Chapman, Smarty's owners, are donating all proceeds of their licensing deals to the Backstretch Employee Assistance Program, which benefits the barn employees who attend to the racehorses at Philadelphia Park.
The columnist also contended that the racing industry discards animals without regard once their usefulness is through. While the well-publicized tragedies involving Exceller and Ferdinand are routinely trotted out for these kinds of attacks, Wise only casually points out that the slaughter of the two champions occurred in Sweden and Japan, with the pair far out of the control of their original handlers.
The Exceller Fund, created after the discovery of that horse's demise, and dozens of other dedicated not-for-profit racehorse retirement organizations nationwide work to place former runners on farms or retrain them as show horses, for mounted police work or for private ownership after their running days are through.
-- Steve Byk
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Robert E. Pierre's June 3 news story, "Ohio Prisons Go Gladly to the Dogs," said, "There are rescued greyhounds that spent their entire lives shuttling between cages and dirt racetracks, with little interaction with humans or other dogs."
First, as athletes that cost thousands of dollars to raise and train, greyhounds are well cared for while they are racing. When they retire, they are given to more than 300 adoption groups and racetrack-sponsored adoption programs in the United States and Canada that place them in homes.
Second, racing greyhounds at the track do more than shuttle between their cages and the track. They are turned out four times per day. They race once or twice a week.
It is incorrect to say that racing greyhounds have "little interaction with humans or other dogs." Racing greyhounds spend their first 18 months on farms with their littermates, other greyhounds, and the farmers who raise and train them. They spend their racing careers in kennels at the tracks with 60 or more other greyhounds and their trainers.
Greyhounds are among the most social of dogs. An unsocialized greyhound does not make a good racer and would not be tolerated by its owners and trainers.
That is why I can keep eight greyhounds in my house. I am not unusual; thousands of adopters across the country have multiple greyhounds in their homes.
-- Brett Weeks