Letters: Bensons’ racing team more than a dog and pony show _lowres

New Orleans Saints' owner Tom Benson listens to a question before the start of the post position draw for the 142nd Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Wednesday, May 4, 2016. Benson's G.M.B. Racing has two starters in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, Mo Tom and Tom's Ready. (AP Photo/Garry Jones)

In response to the letter published titled “Bensons should put Saints fans’ money to good use” by Shirley Laska, I say take a look around the city, and you will see the Bensons have made many contributions to education. The students of Brother Martin High School and Tulane and Loyola universities have been the recipients of over $20 million to their institutions. Just last month, the Bensons participated in the dedication of the Gayle & Tom Benson Science & Technology Complex at St. Mary’s Dominican High School.

Whether their income is derived from the Pelicans, Saints, car dealerships or investments, how the Bensons decide to reinvest or support local organizations does not need to be justified. As for horse racing, it is a lucrative business, and it is called “the sport of kings,” but it is probably the only sport where an individual does not need a large bankroll to get involved as an owner. And for many, this is one aspect of the large appeal to this sport.

With a history dating back to 1872, the Fair Grounds Race Course has been a part of the New Orleans landscape and also is the third-oldest continuously operating thoroughbred racetrack in the U.S. The addition of Bensons’ GMB Racing has proven to be successful. Not too many horse owners can say their 3-year-old was in the Kentucky Derby. The Bensons can say they had two that qualified in the same year. Quite an accomplishment. The combined earnings of Mo Tom and Tom’s Ready already have exceeded $550,000. That’s a winner in my book.

Thank you, Gayle and Tom, for making this year’s Kentucky Derby all the more exciting with a New Orleans flavor. You have a large audience of supporters, including Pelicans and Saints fans who frequent the Fair Grounds on a regular basis and wish you continued good luck with your racing team.

Barbara Hyland

insurance industry, retired