August Belmont Hopeful: Jockey Club Chairman Foresees an Excellent Racing Season., Daily Racing Form, 1917-03-04


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• AUGUST BELMOiNT HOPEFUL JOCKEY CLUB CHAIRMAN FORESEES AN EXCELLENT RACING SEASON. Attaches Great Importance to Effect of Recently Instituted Stakes Upon Improvement of the Sport and Breed of Horses. New York. March 3. — August He linont. chairman of the Jockey Club and for a generation the acUnow ledge-el leader of the American turf, in talking of racing prospects to a reporter of the New York Times, attached the- greatest importance to the number of new stakes instituted in the last year or sei and went to some length to show tin- tresaeado BS influence for good these ne-w fixtures would exercise not only on the- sport, but on the bre-eding industry and the improvement of the bt tied « f becaea. It was the- latter feature that appeared most to interest Mr. Belmont — the benefit to be derived by directing the sport into the peeper ehaiinel, so that only horses of the highest class would be perpetuated. No one enjoys a good hssjae race more than the i-hairman of the Jockey Club, hut even when the two year-olds are dashing through the stretch at Helmont Park, he is looking beyond the actual finish line to the time when these youngsters will have become matured racers and even later, to the period that they will lie devoted to enriching permanently the American turf at one of the stud farms flourishing iu the Hlue Crass district. It was because of this keen insight into the larger affairs of the horse industry that he readily seized on the current topic of new ly -instituted stakes as the one most worthy of consideration in discussing the prospects of the turf. There lias been a great impetus in this direction, starting with the revival of the Lawrence- Keal-ization. the supreme te-st for thr e-year-ohls over a distance of ground, and supplemented by the entirely new stake for throe year -old fillies, also ar-rang-d by the Westchester Kaeing Association, and which seems destined within a few year* to beeoaae The greatest event in this country for fillies and likely to compare iu importance with the English Oaks, being e f like- Character and about the- same-clistane-e. Wihin the past week or so amateur racing assoiiatious closely allied to the jockey clubs which for years have been active in promoting the sport, have come to the front along the same lines. The United Hunts Racing Association, with Perry Belmont at the head, has announced a double event steeplechase, to lie run at the spring and fall meetings, which calls for a large subscription and which may be- the richest race of its kind. The Piping Rock Racing Association also has nniuuinced a steeplechase t be run annually, carrying a pe-r-petaal trophy in memorial of L. Stuart Wing that will lie coveted by every sportsman devoted to cross-country competitions. Of Extreme Value to the Sport. Mr. Belmont made it plain that in his opinion the prosperity of the turf would grow greater, in proportion to the stakes instituted, along lines calculated to encourage the best thoroughbreds. He said: "More stakes and stakes of increased value will mean the establishment of racing on a larger scale anil more popular plane than ever before. With tin-added values in money to be won there naturally will come the raising of entrance fees and eonside; -ably more money to he expended by the owners of active stables in forfeits. Naturally a large proportion of horses entered in stake events will be declared out before the races are run. This is especially true of produce events such as the Futurity. which has closed for 191! with such a flattering entry. Nominators for these events will have to face a large forfeit account, but the money paid in this way will all go to the upbuilding of racing. There will be, it is true, increased eXpaaaM for the raetag man. but the money paid out in thi; way provides the chance for meeting these expenses through the additional returns in a monetary way to be gained by victories in the- important races. "The largely increased entry for the Futurity furnishes proof positive that there is a great revival in the interest taken iu racing by the prominent owners. The way tin- home breeders have contributed is even a better sign than the heavy purchases made abroad for the- purpose of providing entries for the two-year-old rai-e. though these of course will in time work for the lasting benefit " of the turf." " When asked about the prospects for good fields in the racing during the coming season, Mr. Belmont again emphasized the- value of this pliuse of the s] ort of additional stakes. "With more stakes ami of larger value offered than in the past few years." In- said, "there will be more penalties accruing against the superlatively good horses and more allowance- coining to the- aid of the moderate ones. There is no doubt that in time this will make for larger fields, as tin- horses will be brought closer together under th* framed conditions, and the races will be more- open and more interesting to the public. Forecasts Excellent Racing Season. ■riu- wliol- system of racing, in fart, depends on the numlx-r of stakes varying in value, the comparatively small ones at the beginning of tic- season gradually increasing in value. The early winners an- earning pe-nnltie-s. and this helps to maintain inte rest throughout the season. There is no doubt that the program of the leading assiwiations will be griatly improved for tin- coming season, and this, added to tin- inte-ri st e-xcitc-cl by tin- pal I lib ail of so many high-class foreign horse-s, presages a ge.od racing season— the best we have had in recent ye-ars." When poked for his views on the selling race epiostion that has beea agitated lately, and which has beea the cause of legislation on the part of the Jockey t lub. Mr. Helmont saul: "We are looking for a great impro-. einent in this •lass of race and there is little doubt that in a short time- ail the abuses e .mplained of will tie elone away with. The movement is along the lines of ec|ualizing tin- sport for all owners, those* with small stables as will as those with large establishments, and I have no doubt that in time we shall arrive at a satisfactory solution of the trouble. The main thing is to stimulate a wider interest iu racing, not only among owners, but among the public-. This. I think, is being done, and the public now is looking forward to a better class of racing with more discrimination than before." The chairman of tin- Jockey Club spoke hopefully ICouliuucd ou second pugc. AUGUST BELMONT HOPEFUL. i Con tinned from first page. when the matter of increasing the distances of races was broached. "Neither the racing men nor the public must expect too much." he said, "the ten-ilciiey is to increase the distances, as this uu doubtedly is for the best interest of the turf and the future of the horse, but we have to go slowly as we are under the handicap caused by the abandonment of racing for a period." Increasing Distances by Degrees. When it was suggested that it would aot do to start a good sprinter and ruin his career by a race over a mile and a half course. Mr. Belmont spoke up quickly: "It is not that we hive not got the horses, for there has been a distinct improvement in this respect, especially in the last year or two. It was necessary to start with short races when the sport, was hehabilitated. hut are are increasing the distances by degrees. The Lawrence Realization will be a great help: and another stake that should go a long way toward developing stayers is the new-stake for fillies, in which the distance will be in ireased gradually until it is run over a distance of a mile and three eighths. As entries for this event will close long iii advance, there -will he every opportunity for trainers to prepare their horses m that they are able to negotiate the distance when they are in their three-year old form." Another important matter touched on by Mr. Belmont, in reply to a question, xvas the new rule prohibiting the racing of two-year-olds until April 1. Asked ns to the effect of this rule, he said: "It was a wise move, and made in the interest of breeders mill horsemen. We expected an outcry on the part of those who wish to race immature horses at winter tracks, but the move was madias a result of experience gained by watching the performances of those horses which were raced at too early an age. and there is no idea of going back to the old order of things. There is no doubt whatever that We shall obtain better racers and better breeding stock by delaying the entrance of the young racers into the fit Id of competition until the spring meetings apeo.** Drifting from American Lines. The question as to what influence the increased importation of thoroughbreds would have on the American turf, coupled with an inquiry as to the value of the outcross in breeding, launched Mr. Belmont, under a fair wind, on a smooth sea. where apparently he has intimate knowledge of all rocks on which the breeder is likely to come to grief. "There is no doubt whatever that these importations are of great value and sure to result in lasting benefit to the turf." he said, but there was a tinge of regret in his tone when he continued. "In the matter of oulcrossing the large importation of breed maris shows a tendency on the part of breeders to drift away from American lines — these lim I having proved satisfactory in the past in developing bstaea of rare quality. This is not entirely a recent development, as there are few of the prominent studs in this country which do not contain a large percentage of sires eligible to registration in the Preach and English stud books. This was started yeara ago by the importation of such horses as Leamington and St. Blaise. The Easton sales in the old days also led to the distribution of many famous bread mares of tardea strains among our breeding establishments, with the result that the purely American blood was lessened. "That is to be regretted, for it has lieen proved on many occasions that horses with an American strain could hold their own in any country and in the best racing company. Notable examples were provided by two of the Epsom Derby winners. Richard Crockers Orby and II. B. Duryeas Durbar. On the distalT side these were well supplied with American blood, and Orby not only won the Derby, the greatest English classic, but at the present time is a valuable addition to the foreign sires. " Eligibility Across the Sea. Asked whether the maintenance of American blood would not reduce the value of the stock as a commercial proposition liecause of the ineligibility of some American strains to registration in France and England. Mr. Belmont pointed out that the produce of American mares if foaled abroad was eligible for registration in the country where foaled. "An instance," he said, "is that of Golden View, the dam of Rock View, which was taken to France after Rock View was born. She was bred in that country, and Rock Views brother, foaled in France, was eligible to the French stud book, while Rock View- himself is not. "After all it is not the mares so much as the sires that have the greatest influence on outcrossing and there always has been a certain amount of English blood in the makeup of the American thoroughbred. The distinctive difference between the American and foreign thoroughbred is apparent in those horses which trace back to Lexington and Boston. Those are the sire strains which are purely American and which have produced many great horses. On the other hand there has been a great proportion of English blood introduced here through the descendants of St. Simon, while Watercress, a son of the great Fhiglish sire Springfield is responsible for much more. Then in recent years such sires as Sain. Rock Sand and Star Shoot have added to the proportion. Trio of Dominating Sires, "There are three great sire lines whose blood dominates the thoroughbred — Eclipse. Herod and Matchem. In olden days there was a large percentage of Herod in the foremost American racers and also a considerable quantity of Matchem. The inlroduction of so much English blood has tended to the subduing of the influence of Herod and Matchem. the latter being wiped out entirely in many successful horses of recent days. The tendency has been to drift away from Herod also and Eclipse is gaining ground all the time, as shown by the figures of relative proportions in the various stud books. There is no doubt that the English breeders have produced many great horses by adherence to the Eclipse quality, but Hated blood has reappeared recently in France with good results. Another illustration of the efficiency of Herod ancestry flashed on the public a few years back in the great two-year-old The Tetrarch. one of the must suetessful horses of his age that ever raced. "The Tetrarch was a son of Roi Hired* and was bred in Ireland. As his name implies, he traced bach directly to Ilerod. He had all the markings , f the chief of the Herod family, being a gray, as was his sire, bis grandsire, Le Samaritian. and great -gi.indsire. La Saucy. As a result of his fine turn of speed and remarkable turf career, there became a demand for La Sancy mares in I;ngland. but these were hard to obtain. "It is only fair to admit that today England has more good thoroughbreds than we have, but I cannot go so far as to sa.v that this is due to the greati r importance attached to the progeny of Kclipse. In the olden days there was something stout about the American thoroughbred that was superb. He was of the wear and tear type that added greatly to his valm . both as a producer of sterling race horses, and animals of general useful qualities for all-around purpo is. Thai we have not that same type at present is not due to faults of breeding, but to the abandonment of the long distance races which, in the early days of the turf, did so much to increase the stamina of our racers. The con tests of two mile heats and four -mile races not ■ mly proi.|eil great spectacles, but went a long way toward building up the stamina of the horses engaged. Must Build on Permanent Lines. "The difference in strains, however, is of little l Meat, provided that we build always along the lines of permanent improvement in stuck. In that respect the recent importations must be considered of great value. Amorhans have been able to purchase from the best foreign studs horses that would have been out of their reach but for the war and the curtailment of racing in France and Bag-Inml. It remains for us to make the best of these opportunities by intelligent crossing with the strains that have proved so valuable in the past." "Do you favor an increase in the scale of weights so as to give mature riders better opportunities- was the next question. To this Mr. Belmont replied: Weights today in the greut stake races are not prohibitive, and there are plenty of opportunities for good riders to appear in important events. Even in two year old events a successful horse will have to carry up to I2d pounds, which certainly allows a feed horse to carry a good rider. 1 do not see any reason to alter the scale of weights, as the situa-iou is one that will collect itself in the natural course of events. When wo have more stake rices and lore competitions over longer clistunets there will be plenty of riding for the really good bare who poaaeaa tiie judgment of pace necessary in a longdistance race. Praise and Abuse That Harms. "There an- ether reasons besides scale restrictions that prevent the appearance of mature riders iu the saddle except on rare occasions. Seme show I r riding ability, and there is ., tendency for them to get careless in their work. These bOJ I an- sus-eptible to prai-e and abuse. :.ud tin ir work becomes erratic from too much of either one or the other. Newspaper criticism. I am aarrj to say. has helped to spoil many good riders. One day a boy is lauded to the skies and the next he la roundly abused, sometimes without came. T.xtrava-gant praise and excessive criticism have done mach to upset the poise of many who otherwise waild have Income great jockeys. "Turn to your back files, and yon will find Jh notable instance. It would be hard to find a betoW example of a capable jockey whose earrer extended over a aanaher of years than the late Danny Maker. Maher was a good jockey in America and enjoyed a brilliant career in Fngland. Yet rea will find that he was severely criticized in the papers before le- left this country to gain his greatest fame abroad." This naturally led to the question of a comparison of the jockeys of today and those of a generation ago. In a few words the turf leader confirmed tiie old saying "comparisons are odious." remarking: •"There can be no real comparison, as rhe riding of the old jockeys was according to eld standards, using the old Lnglish seat that was the naly one in vogue then. There wire many feod ridera ill the old days, but it is impossible to draw i parallel between their pcrformu noes and those of the present day. Joekeyship today in an art in itself; the men in- Jochaya, aot ridera. A light hand, conpled with the modem /seat, is responsible for a good jockey. The seciet of suoces, js not so much knowing how-to ride as the placing of the Weight on a horses hack where it will least impede his ptagreaa." New Seat Lessens Control. To illustrate this point. Mr. Belmont eatliaed the figure of a horse, drawing a line through the middle of the body, where the old-time rider us.-. I to -it. and another almost on the neck, where the present knigbt of the pigahia is perched. That led tu | n-other question as to the probable loss of control by the general use of the new seat. "There is no doubt in my mind." said Mr. Bil-mont. "that the new seat has much to do with the many fouls and bumping that occur. It is impossible to exercise t!ie same control over a horse by the present method that was obtained when the jockey was seated where a rider would sit if taking a gallop for pleasure. So far as jadgaaeat of pace goes the advantage rests with the old-tine-joeke.s. but this is because of the few long-distance races in which the riders of tin- present day have an opportunity to fake part. There is no question that there are some brilliant sprint riders at present, and I have no doubt that with equal chances to indulge in distance racing they would develop the proper judgment of pace. Judging them as men. the riders ,,f today compile favorably with the old-time jockej s. They come from just as g 1 antecedents and as a class are to be common. ied. If anything then- is an improvement over old times, for in this part of the country the ridera are mostly of the white race, while in the old days a large percentage of them were colored." Events for Military Riders. The question whether racing for military riders exclusively as training in horsemanship should he eacoaraged was partly .answered in the negative by the reply to the previous query. Mr. Belmont diil not seem to think that actual race riding would have a particularly lienefieial effect on the military rider as far as increasing his efficency in maneuvers was concerned, but he is distinctly in favor of events for military riders on the ground that the more acquaintance the rider ha- with horses the more proficient he will beceaae as ,-i cavalry officer. Though a different seat is re quired for racing, the participation in the aport is likely to xviden the knowledge of the mil;- ■. man in the .actions of the thoroughbreds u ■ *e blood is larg-ly used for cavalry mounts. In answer to a request for his ideas of pxcceaafr legislation and of the possible control of the sp,,rt by a central body to take in the whole country. Mr. Belmont said: "Xo legislative body could cover the whole country as the distances are too great. To control the sjHirt properly officials must be in close touch witli the doings on all the tracks controlled. The Jockey Club was asked once to take the lead in such a. project, but was forced to decline. In taking care of the metropolitan district and Maryland we have as much as we can capably handle. There is. however, co-operation among the different governing bodies throughout this country and extending to Canada. This was shown in the legislation over the question of the too early racing of two-year-olds when the Kentucky Racing Commission and the authorities in Canada backed up the stand taken by the Jockey Club. It is true that the trattiag men have established a central control that embraces the whole country, but that sport spreads all over the country, while the runners are located only in certain sections. There is a close co-operation on the running turf as to discipline, which works to the advantage of the sport. A person guilty of unfair practices on a track in the wesi or in Canada is in due course barred in the east, ao that the sport is kept clean throughout the land." Favors Pari-Mutuel System. A qui ry as to whether he considered the sport established on a better plan than before elicited some pertinent remarks, in which the chairman of the Jockey Club came out in favor of the proposed pari-mutuel system. He said: "The principal objection to raetag has been the betting which in nearly every instance accompanies tin- sport. Legislation has been directed against bookmakiug— by that I mean the system which fixes odds so that poolrooms know the quotation before a race is run. This is an incentive for general gambling and enables people in large cities to bet on the races simply as a gambling proposition and without the accompaniment of the sporting spirit. It also provides a definite price for wagers that are mule in handbooks. "The pari-mutuel system would be a distinct improvement on the old system, as the odds an- deter-mind only after the race and by the actual amount of money invested on each starter in the race. It is a notable fact that in Canada and in states of the union, where pari -unit mis have been substituted for the old bookmaking method, handbook makers have disappeared, and bookmaking. which h. caused so much criticism, is at a standstill. "The question of introducing the pari -mutuels in Bnglaad has been discussed recently and has received the support of prominent sportsmen across the water. I do not know whether it is possible to introduce this system in the state of New York. as it probably weald require a change in the constitution of tlii state: but there is no question in my mind that it would provide a much more satisfactory means for the public to wager on the chances of a horse race, if such wagering is to be permitted at all." When asked what was the best race he ever saw, Mr. Belmont said: "As for the greatest race ever run in America, from the standpoint of public interest. I consider the meeting of LoagfeUew and Harry Baeoctl at Monmouth Park as the most important. These were two stout-hearted racers which had proved their worth in many a hard-fought contest. They were at the top of the tree and the public was about equally divided as to the merits of the two ham s. That race was a great one from every standpoint. II was a questi f which could stand the test. and the two horses raced with the idea Of killing the weaker one oil. Harry Rass.-tt did his best. but finillv was raced off his feet and Loa fftlh»W was left to finish as he phased, the recognized champion of his day." There were many other questions touching Mr. Belmonts career on the turf, the horses that he owned, the races he had seen and those in which he had ridden, but the limit allowed for the interview had elapsed. There was just time to put one query: "Which do you consider the best horse yea ever owned." To that the answer came quickly and with decision. •"Tracery."

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