In a column written by a West Coast columnist in praise of the recently concluded first-time Polytrack race meet at Del Mar, in which horses stayed sounder and betting handle grew larger, thereby creating a win-win situation for all concerned, track president Joe Harper took a Right Wing tack when attacking critics of the Polytrack surface.

Just like every suggestion to bring American troops home is met by a derogatory cut and run rebuke, the old Youre-a-Cowardly-Love-It-or-Leave-It-Commie-Loser reprimand, or when patriotic citizens are branded anti-American when they question the illegal Iraq war, Harper branded Polytracks horseplaying critics by painting them all with this one brush:

When a horse breaks down, they dont even look up. They are looking at the next race.

Of course, there are some extremely common horseplayers among us. But like backstretch cheaters, they are a slim minority. In this game built on opinion, Harper would have it that opinions are fine as long as theyre not critical ones, no matter how honest those views attempt to be.

Even Bob Baffert, who left Del Mar for Saratoga, felt the sting of criticism on this subject:

Youre vilified if you say something against Polytrackyoure saying that you dont care about your horses safety, that you dont care about their health.

Baffert might have been referring in part to trainer John Wards crack when, during the Saratoga meet, Ward, a known proponent of Polytrack and an advocate for its use, referred to Baffert and his ilk as quarter horse trainers.

Then call me a quarter horse handicapper, or worse, if you wish. I have no experience with Tapeta so I have no opinion about that surface. But I have seen Cushion Track at Hollywood Park and much prefer it to Poly. The races develop like real races there. The surface doesn't stop me from playing.

All tracks tend to develop biases over time, usually for short durations. But Cushion Track is the best of the artificial surfaces Ive seen because frontrunners on the inside and outside late-run sweepers can win on the same program. This is how racing should be.

But no two Polys seem to be created equal. And they do not stand up well to extremes in temperature. I have seen too many days when the chicklets 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 run the same all the way around Woodbine oval with virtually no substantive change in running positions. And I have seen too many days at Keeneland when speed horses had absolutely no chance.

This sport is called horse racing, not jockey adjustment racing.

Mr. Harper certainly is entitled to his opinion. And his job. But it would be good if he showed some respect for well meaning critics who disagree him.