Something of Early Bookmaking., Daily Racing Form, 1917-03-15


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SOMETHING OF EARLY B00KMAKING. When bookmaking was the popular vehicle of speculation on the rae-es in this country. Barry Steele ker and Ridge Lereia were prominent among the old-time layers and only a few years ago. when asked to tell something about the- early days of bookmaking in America said: "You couldnt have met anybody who knows more about it," answered Stedeker. "In the year 1872 the lata Joe Gleason and I were selling theater tickets in front of the old Olympic theater on Broadway, where George L. Fox was playing in Humpty Dumpty. Two ye-ars after that both of us were dead broke, and I suggested to Gleason that it might be a good idea to locate in some- billiard room and lay odds on the races then being run at Saratoga. Monmouth Park, Pimlico and in the West. We found a place at KM Third avenue and began to do a little business. "A ye ar or two later we went up to Jerome Park, and I was one of nine- men parading up and down and carrying bags over our shoulders, offering odds a la Ne-wmarket. Among the nine were the late Moeioe- Fox. S. Howland Robbins. John Mc-Dougall. John Hackett backed by Ridge Lc-vein. A. H. ridge and Henry Stanford. The last-name-el was an Englishman with a long gray beard, who was in-elueeel by Pierre Lorillard to come over here- and educate Americans in the then unknown method of bookmaking. Howland Robbins also had Mr. Loril-lards support, not only moral but actual. In fact, as was often the case in those- days in England, when many nobleme-n became amateur bookmakers. Pie-ire Lorillard really was an amateur layer in this country. That was the beginning of bookmaking here." Accumulated a Handsome Fortune. "How much mone-y did Joe Gleason accumulate:" was asked. " "That I dont know, said Stedeker. but I do know that the amount accredited to him was vastly exaggerated. However, he had almost a monopoly of the one, two, three form of betting long enough to start the accumulation of a handsome fortune-. He lived for many years in one of the finest houses in Saratoga. It was on Inion avenue. Gleason used to invite prominent racing men from various parts of the country to partake of his hospitality. It had taken the public a long time- to re-alize- that it was just as hard fo make money betting on horses to be third as if ;is to pick winners straight. It really never was 1 to 2. 2 to 2. and 3 to 2 in his books, as some- have- said, but he framed the odds in sin h a way that of course- he had the best of it no matter how it would come." Stedeker. W. H. Cheppu and W. Atkinson were pioneer odds layers in tin- west also. At the spring meeting at Lexington in UN they were the only layers doing business. All three of them made-money. Atkinson kept a fish store- on Third avenue. Cheppu was at om- time half owner of the strongest stable of horse-s that ever weat to Saratoga from the west. It was the joint property of Cheppu and Milton Young, and was trained by Brown Dick, a A negro horseman, who developed among others the t! famous Ben Brush. In 1*77 Stedeker and a friend instituted the combination form of betting in the- books, and at Saratoga they made it a custom to lay ,000 to 0 that no one could name the five winners, which in those days composed the program. They won 2.-000 that season, and had many imitators. Ten years later P. J. IKvyer. as president of the Brooklyn Jockey Club, killed all combination betting at his track, he-cause- of a scandal involving the gigantic horse. Gleaner, and this was the final blow which practically knocked out this alluring form of speculation. If left to pure chance- alone combination betting would always be popular, hut it led to so many mean attempts on the part of small operators to "correct fortune" that it was justly eliminated. The least offensive form of "correcting fortune" was by laying some trainer to scratch a horse-, which looked to be an absolutely sure winner of the last race, which usually mi-ant losses of thousands for the layers. Many Places Where Large Sums Were Wagered. Pre-si nt-day raee-goers easily recall a period when Barclay and Fulton streets wore hone ycombeel with places where horses could be backed to win large sums. It was not at all difficult to do business in these rooms. In the- neighborhood of Broadway and Twenty-eighth street, too. were- the large poolrooms of Tommy Johnson and Bill Johnson. A. H. Cridge, Kelly Bliss and William Lovell. In these rooms on the night before a race could be seen hundreds of eager men anxious to make wagers, and this helped to ine-rease interest in the contests at the track the next day. Of all men most responsible for the introduction of bookmaking into America Charles Bead stands pre-eminent. Nearly thirty years ago he induced George Haughton to come to Ne-w York from England. Haughton was an up-to-date bookmaker and Re-eel. having large capital, bached him. The elucl between Reed and Haughton on the one hand and "Plunger" Walton on the other one day at Sheeps-head Bay is recalled by old race-goers. It was in 1S.S2 when Girofle bent Barrett and Bootjack. Walton, well-known at that time as a professional backer, and particularly as a backer of horses trained by Bpa Btadeker and ridden by Billy Donohno. made two wagers of S10.000 each on Cir-ofle. the odds being 0 to 5. Reed and Haughton were depending on Barrett to win for them. Walton was flush with his enormous winnings of the year before in England on Iroquois and Foxhall. and his long career of success made him unpopular with prominent layers. It culminated in his trip to England in 1NN3 with Girofle, which wound up disastrously. __

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