Pari-Mutuels in New York in 72: First Machines Used in America Were Set Up at the Old Jerome Park Track, Daily Racing Form, 1917-01-09


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PARI-MUTUELS IN NEW YORK IN 72. First Machines Used in America Were Set Up at the Old Jerome Park Track. New York. January 8. — The popularity of the mil-tuel system of speculation on horse races is unquestioned. It is supplanting the old system of book-making wherever opportunity is presented. Though it is doubtful whether a machine could have been found on any race track in America ten years ago. the mutuel system is not new here, it is. in fact, older than bookmaking in this country. Frank T. Clark, whose connection with racing in New York goes back almost half a century, tells an interesting story of its introduction at Jerome Park in the early days of that famous and fashionable race trtCk. "It must have been about 1872," he said the other day to a reporter for the Herald, "that Leonard W. Jermie set up the first machines ever used in this country on the lawn at Jerome Park. He had seen tin ii in Paris, and liked them so well he determined to try them in Now York. I was in charge of the subscription rooms of .he old American Jockey Club, at Madison avenue and Twenty-seventh street, at that time, and ns the club conducted the meeting at Jerome Park, I had a hand in the business. "I r member as well as if it were yesterday how anxiously Mr. Jerome r.nd all the rest of the officers looked forward to the arrival of two machines he had ordered from Paris. The last boat due before the melting opened came in without them, but that was not enough to defeat the man who had been telling all his friends about the new system of betting he was going to introduce on the opening day at Jeroni" lark. Not much! Instead of giving up. lie sent me out to find a first-class carpenter, and wl en I had found one. Mr. Jerome and the carpenter went to work to build two machines that would answer the purpose until the others arrived from France. Mr. Jeromes Home-Made Machines. "When the meeting opened, there they were on the lawn, ready for business, if not very handsome to look at, with James E. Kelly — "Old Gray we used to call him — in charge, and Mr. Jerome, as interested as a boy with his first pair of skates, superintending the job and explaining to everybody just how they worked. And you ought to have seen the curiosity they stirred up. People crowded around them as if they were the missing link, but it took a little time for the public to become familiar with them. "After the first race, however, there was quite a little play, and as soon as the people saw through the new scheme, more and more of them bought tickets on each succeeding race. Along about the fourth race Kelly became unable to write the tickets fast enough to kep up with the demand fo: them. We had no printed tickets then, but just pieces of cardboard on which to write Longfellow or whatever horse it might be. Pretty soon Kelly was so swamped that Mr. Jerome determined to see the thing through, stepped in and helped bin. write the tickets. When a man wanted to bet more than fiv; dollars, they would just put down Longfellow 5 on the card, to save time, instead of writing jut five different tickets. "Well, they got away with it, but I Clink it was about the busiest day Mr Jerome ever had in his life. When the last race was over. Mr. Jerome gave all the money to Theedore Moss, telling him to take it downtown to tie subscription rooms in Twenty-seventh street, and pay tff. Cost ,000 to Pay Off. "Now comes the best part of it. I helped to c;-sh the tickets as the boys came in and presented them, and after we had paid out all the mom y taken in at the track, there were tickets calling for about ,000 still out. We didnt know what to do. for it was plain that somebody must have raised some of those single tickets to make them call for a g 1 deal more money than WD coming to tlum. When Mr. Jerome came down that night and we explained the situation to him. he didnt hesitate a minute about what to do. Pay them offt if they appear to be right, he said, and charge it up to me. "Those home-made tickets kept coming in for days after the races were over, and Mr. Jerome finally called a halt. One of the last ones presented was held by Alderman Tommy Shiels. who died here only a few months ago. It called for 50. I always thought it was all right, but the alderman held it until after Mr. Jerome had given the word to stop, so we couldnt do anything al«ut it. " Tommy* died with the ticket in his possession. He spoke to me about it the last time I ever saw him. In fact. I dont believe I have seen him four tim s in the last forty years that he didnt remind me of it. and I used to see him nearly every week during the racing season at Sheepshcad Bay. "Fortunately for Mr. Jerome, the machines from Paris arrived on the second day of the meeting, and after that it was smooth sailing for the new system of betting. The mutnels became popular in an incredibly short time, and in a few years were on nearlv every race track of any consequence in the United States."

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