When Racing Was for Sport Alone: Feature of the Meetings of Long Ago on the Washington Track at Charleston, Daily Racing Form, 1917-02-15


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WHEN RACING WAS FOR SPORT ALONE. Feature of the Meetings of Long Ago on the Washington Track at Charleston. 3osteh Ouin-ys dairy record of wagers aggregating 2,000 pounds on the ITimnnp race is indicative of llic active spirit of hotting beiore the outbreak d" the Hevoiutioll. That spirit increased rather than skated with the revival of racing after h the restorati"ii of peace. Retting was conducted and then, however, tinder very different methods than those of these days. Rookmaking and poolsclling were unknown. Jcnthnien carried ivory tablets, niororeo or vdlum covered. Ulion which they recorded tlie items of their wagers With the names ef tl:e takers, an! tlie differences were adjusted. geac rally, though not always, at the end of the day. it on tiie morrow. Thus ci.-Ii was not necessary, and the prevailing tendency was. therefore, probably, to ltct more than is possible now under the bookniaking system. Horse racing reached its zenith at Charleston under the auspices of the South Carolina .Jockey Club, tin- attest jockey club in the tinted States. The date df its organization is not definit ly known, bal it probably came ilto existence after the Revo-lutinii. It pwrrhasrd the Washington race coarse from the heirs of the founders in 1886, Use following year inclosed it by the erection of a eercB-foot fence. Then. let the first time, a small assessment was levied on foot passengers. Distinguished visitors, or even respectable strangers from abroad or from other states, were never allowed to paj for entrance. They were received as guests of the club, and provided with tickets and badges entitling them to all of the hospitalities of the meeting. The meeting lasted a week, and was usually held In the early spring. The Jockey Ciub dinner, on Wednesday evening, and the Jockey Club ball, on Friday night, were the chief society events of the week. In UH the club had over 200 members and an annual income of more than 0. 000 derived from subscriptions, real estate, bonds and bank lock, liesides the race course the club owned a large farm adjoining, where horse owners could get supplies and accommodations for their help. Quaint Account of the Meetings. In those days, race week was the red-letter occasion of the year. Mrs. St. Julian Ravenel. widow of a descendant of the pioneer of the sport mentioned, wrote as follows of the enthusiasm of Charlestonians over racing: "Race week was the great popular festival shared by everyone, from the government and testes in the grandstand, to the negroes who sat unmolested on the fence tops — only the sick and infirm staying at home. The bath I in carriages; the gentlemen on their handsomest horses: the boys on their ponies: the poorer sort in carte and wagons of every kind; the negroes in numbers, all thronged from every direction to the course. It was a gay open-air Jollification, good humored and merry, thoroughly enjoyed by all." To complete the picture we must add the statement of Dr. living that the schools were closed, shops shut up. and the courts adjourned at noon to give opportunity to all to attend the races, and tliat venerable and distinguished dignitaries of tlie land, clergymen and judges touched elbows on the grandstand. There can be no gainsaying that much of the same spirit exists in the old town today, notwithstanding the inscription on the statute books of provisions forbidding the sport. The last successful meeting of the club was held in IStiO. No meetings were held during the war. and only one afterward. That was a failure, so lifter- remaining dormant for some years, it sold its real estate and other assets and went into liquidation. The last president of the Jockey Club was the venerable Major Theodore 0. Darker, a distinguished lawyer, still socially prominent as head of the famous St. Cecillia Society.

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1910s/drf1917021501/drf1917021501_3_1
Local Identifier: drf1917021501_3_1
Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800