Booking on New Orleans Races: New System Not Popular and Speculation Less in Volume than Last Year, Daily Racing Form, 1907-12-27


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BOOKING ON NEW ORLEANS RACES. New System Not Popular and Speculation Less in Volume Than Last Year. New Orleans, La., December 24. Whether it be the tightness of money or the Inauguration of the New York system of betting, the winter racing season hero to date does not begin to compare with what it was last year for a similar period. It is likely that both these causes have operated adversely to local racing patronage as well as to. the volume of money that daily shows in the betting ring. EffcCts of the financial stringency are seen in the fact that fewer moneyed turfmen are here than in former years, -when by holiday time a dozen or more big speculators were on hand ready and wlll- iug t9 let the ring to a standstill. John J. Ryan, P.urlew and ONeill,, C. R. Ellison and- W. H. Fizer about comprise the big guns among the division of players now on the ground. Of course, after the holidays other well-known speculators will be "dropping in, but If present indications count for anything at all, there is no chance that the meetings can pick up quite to the level of what. they pvcro last season, , A disposition to "boost the game along has tended to create a rosy lined but not altogether truthful out-Sf-town impression as to the exact status of the sport here that is, its status from a financial point of view. Of course, no friend of the sport would desire to lean to pessimism to the extreme of unfairness, but a little bit of fact in the matter may not bo altogether undesirable. With an average of about twenty-five books on, the average man can bet as much here as he would probably care to bet anywhere, and at profitable odds, while, barring bad performances, mainly due to changeable weather and bad track conditions, he will get just about as good a run for his money here as he will anywhere else. But the makeup and dress of the crowds, the average attendances, and the more or less languid speculation are bound to make themselves felt to some extent on regular and observant visitors here. For one tiling, the new grandstand at the- Fair Grounds, splendidly built aud roomy as It is, proved to be In the trying weather of the initial two weeks meeting there, far from comfortable. The stand is entirely open, although a large lounging room is provided for patrons, and as it is on the shady side of the track the cold, when the weather is raw, is felt keenly. Then, too, the putting in of a concrete floor underneath the stand, where the betting ring is located, was a mistake. The concrete floor is colij at all times and damp also In wet weather. It makes an excellent promoter of pneumonia, and undoubtedly the few discomforts felt by race-goers in the last fortnight, has impelled many of them to accord to things turfwise a somewhat gloomy coloring. Another thing the old-fashioned betting ring, with the slates up, gives to racing an air of busy activity that is largely lacking in the new system where the bookmakers and their help sit on stools, and the crowds collect around them and for the most" part remain motionless. Opinions as to the merits of the to systems of booking are divided. Some of the pencilers, and more especially experienced men at the business, who know prices just as they know every other angle of the game, appear to like it Others have no use for it, say that it hampers both the bookmakers and the public and that It is not possible to do anywhere near the volume of business that can be done with the slates in action. There is a lot of truth in this theory, more particularly here where local race-goers have been accustomed to the old-fashioned hooking with slates ever since slates came into vogue. The new plan was all Greek to them at the opening of the season, and now, with a month of racing gone, they are slow to grasp if. iii the open ring with the slates in view, they could see the" prices and the market fluctuations from almost any point of vantage, and instead of crowding around individual books they kept moving about to secure the best quotation on whatever they wanted to back. At the beginning of the season they continued to hustle aboiit the ring, but they soon found this unprofitable, because if a particular book laid 3 to 1 and a player chased about trying to get better odds, he was likely to And the price cut, and he would find it cut also in the original book when he got back to it. Now the local punters cluster around particular books like a hive of bees. You cannot drive them away. They wont make room for you if you want to get through the crowd, and if you jostle them they resent It. A consensus of opinion all around would most positively indicate that the bookmakers and the public alike would greatly prefer the old style of booking, chiefly because it is open and above board and because it offers facilities for a. much speedier transaction of business than the new system. The officials of both tracks are of course wedded to the new plan, and there is some point in Manager Winns reason for its adoption. Air. Winn stated when the discussion of the subject was warmest several weeks ago, that all western tracks would have to come to the stool system sooner or later, and he thought it best to adopt the system voluntarily rather than to be compelled to do so. Mr. Winn had reference of course to the reform flurry that has been somewhat noticeable here this winter. But others ask "why cross a bridge until you come to it," and express the view that the slates might have been kept up this winter at any rate. Time enough, they say, to take to the tall timber when you have to. Estimates and some of these come from stockholders in the two tracks place the receipts to this date at very much less than they were last year, attributing the cause solely to the new faugled plan of speculation. There is no doubt but the receipts are considerably less, but in view of the fact that business men have been unable to get money out of the banks for business needs, much less money to speculate, in the writers opinion the falling off of receipts can be very largely laid to the financial situation. One thing is sure. There will he no change here, this winter at least, in the mode of betting. It will be the stool system until the end of the season. Manager Winn, and he undoubtedly has the support of the directorates of both tracks, has expressed himself emphatically on this point. So local followers of the game will have to be content with the stool plan of betting whether they like it or not. S. B. Weems.

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