The article New Uproar Over a Controversial Drug (May 22) by Douglas S. Looney was excellent. We believe that you have made a major contribution to increasing the public's awareness of the greed and thoughtlessness that prompt the use of Butazolidin.
We would particularly like to comment on one point. The author correctly states that owners "want action for their $600 to $1,000 a month per horse training expenses" and that racing secretaries "desperately need horses to fill races." The suggestion is implicit that without Bute-filled horses, thoroughbred racing and the revenues which derive from it would dry up. That is contrary to all evidence. The number of races increased 83% from 1960 to the present. However, the number of runners increased 108% and the number of thoroughbred foals registered with the Jockey Club increased an astounding 138%. In fact, since 1960 the rate of increase of thoroughbred foals has been 50% greater than the rate of increase in the number of races.
On that basis alone it could scarcely be contended that there is any economic necessity for running injured horses in order to fill the gates on American tracks.
Illinois Hooved Animal
Your article on the Bute controversy presented both the emotional and the realistic aspects of the issue in a well-written manner.
Racehorses are similar to athletes. The vast majority of them have either small injuries or breathing problems, such as asthma, but are still able to compete. No parent of the average high school football player or gymnast objects to his child receiving a mild medication for a small injury or asthma. Yet it is considered by many cruel to medicate a horse in a similar manner.
Never in my years at the racetrack have I seen Butazolidin make a lame horse sound. If given a massive amount of Bute a lame horse will improve, but even the most un-knowledgeable person will still be able to see" that the horse is unfit to race.
JAMES R. WOODS, D.V.M.
Equine Clinics, Inc.
Butazolidin has suffered unfairly ever since a barrage of misinformation was handed out by the media during the 1968 Kentucky Derby incident. As a pony girl with a bad knee, I can speak from experience with horse racing and with Bute. After I had three major knee operations, my doctor prescribed Bute to relieve the pain and swelling. While the relief I get is nothing short of miraculous, I am still not able to go out and play tennis or jog or ski—no matter how good the knee feels.
Most athletes are medicated to some extent to relieve the routine aches and pains they suffer. Horses are athletes, so why shouldn't they be medicated for their routine aches and pains? And please note, I am talking about aches and pains, not lameness. The problem is not with medication, but with overmedication. As long as horsemen are pressured to fill the ever-increasing number of racing days, the problem will always exist.
Newport Beach, Calif.
In the article the impression was given that there is little medical opinion supporting the contention that it is harmful to race an injured horse on anti-inflammatory drugs such as Butazolidin. Actually, there is an abundance of veterinary textbooks and research papers cautioning against such a practice.
Lameness in Horses, edited by O. R. Adams, D.V.M., M.S., which is one of the most frequently used textbooks on equine orthopedic medicine, states that phenylbutazone in many cases "is used to alleviate symptoms of lameness without allowing sufficient rest for healing of the part. In this case, additional damage is done to the joint while the horse goes on with racing workouts. This eventually leads to a complete degeneration of the joint." This text also points out that too often "phenylbutazone therapy allows the horse to be used, causing further injury before healing has taken place."
The Merck Veterinary Manual states, "Anti-inflammatory medication, if used along with continued training or racing, leads inevitably to destruction of the joint surfaces."
ROBERT O. BAKER
Outspoken harness horse dealer Alan Leavitt thinks he was shunned in Hanover, Pa. because he is Jewish (He's Very High on His Horses, May 29). I am also Jewish and have lived in Hanover for 12 years. I am raising three happy, Jewish children. At no time have we ever felt discriminated against.
I have also known Leavitt. Twelve years ago, when my husband was working for him, Leavitt stated several times in my presence that the whole Hanover Shoe Farms operation was anti-Semitic. Why, then, is my husband, Murray Brown, now an executive with that same farm?
Leavitt accused a group of fine men, the Hambletonian Society, of being "openly anti-Semitic." Now he is accusing the town of Hanover. It makes me wonder whether the fault doesn't lie in the mind of Leavitt.
I must compliment Curry Kirkpatrick on his article about Guillermo Vilas (The Mild Bull of the Pampas, May 29). He depicted Vilas as an all-round person who gained fame through only one of his many abilities.
I would, however, like to respond to Kirkpatrick's comment that Bjorn Borg "is well-mannered but exhibits no recognizable human emotion past a wink. And although they [Connors and Borg] have performed prodigies on the tennis court...."
It is my feeling that Borg's prodigious performance on the tennis court is as much a result of his lack of emotion as it is of his natural physical talents. His cool approach signifies a tremendous control over himself, his own game and possibly even that of his opponent. His control allows him never to sense defeat—or at least, never to display a defeatist attitude. Perhaps this, in turn, prevents his opponent from sensing victory, for, as is already well known, Borg wins much more often than he loses. His 12-4 lifetime dominance over Vilas is as good proof as any.
West Orange, N.J.
PRO TWICE OVER
In the article on pro basketball and tennis player John Lucas (Rocket With a Racket, May 29) Melissa Ludtke makes no mention of NBA All-Star Randy Smith when listing professional athletes who have competed in two major team sports in the same year.
I know Smith was an accomplished soccer player at Buffalo State but am not sure whether he 1) has played professional soccer, 2) has contemplated playing professional soccer, or 3) is prevented from playing professional soccer because of a stipulation in his Buffalo Braves contract. Would you please shed some light on this situation?
Fresh Meadows, N.Y.
•Smith tried out for the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the NASL after the 1976-77 NBA season, but he didn't make the team.—ED.
Re Jonathan Yardley's review of the Josh Gibson book in the May 22 issue. During the Depression years of the 1930s, all of the Negro league teams, along with the Brooklyn Bushwicks and other leading independent nines of that era, played at North End Field in Phillipsburg, N.J.
Gibson played there often. In addition to his other star qualities, one lasting impression was his arm. When he pegged to second, his pitcher dropped to a crouch to avoid being struck, so minimal was the arc of the throw. In rating the greatest catchers, he can do no worse than share the No. 1 spot.
Dr. William H. B. Howard (SCORECARD, May 22) is doing it the easy way in matching batteries, pitcher and catcher, from any major league teams! Mine are made up from the pitchers and catchers of the same team and year:
High-Buelow ('01 Tigers); Ryan-O'Neill ('01 Cards); Wicker-Weaver ('02 Cards); Betts-Nichols ('03 Cards);Street-Walker ('04 Reds); Devine-Fortune ('20 Red Sox); Winters-Wheat ('21 Athletics);Butcher-Baker ('41 Pirates); Batts-Fine ('47 Red Sox); Wolff-Howell ('47 Pirates); Moss-Flowers ('51 Red Sox); White-House ('51 Tigers); Brown-Grasso ('51 Senators);Byrd-House ('57 Tigers); Golden-Sherry ('60 Dodgers); Rice-Sprout ('61 Angels); Green-Coates ('63 Reds).
I've got a million (50) more, and I dare anyone to challenge this list.
THOMAS STEPHEN TERPACK
JUST ONE GAME
Since the reporting in SCORECARD (May 1) of my team's 39-3 loss to Memphis State, I have heard from friends all over the country. Some I had not heard from in over 35 years. This has been great, for it's always good to hear from friends even in adversity.
So that they will not feel sorry for me, I would like to tell them that Delta State made it to the Division II World Series after finishing the regular season with a 36-17 record. We were co-champions of the Gulf South Conference and won the NCAA South Central Regional Tournament, which, incidentally, was held at Delta State.
One game doesn't make a season.
DAVE (BOO) FERRISS
HEAD BASEBALL COACH
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