Racings "Invisible Turfman": Sidelights on the Operation of the Present Oral Plan of Laying Odds, Daily Racing Form, 1919-01-02


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RACINGS "INVISIBLE TURFMAN" Sidelights on the Operation of the Present Oral Plan of Laying Odds. i NEW ORLEANS, La., January 1. The different phases of the speculative plan compelled by the enactment of various anti-betting laws throughout the country during the past decade have provided few new occupations to followers of the sport. The reverse has been their effect, for many have compelled to desert, or have been deserted by the turf in their pursuit of a livelihood. The oral style has been responsible for the creation of a comparatively new character in the person of the price-maker, an individual whose business it is- to supply the probable odds at tracks where betting is not legally recognized. In the old days of professional bookmaking, when the layer marked his odds upon a large slate for public inspection, almost every knight of the chalk was a student of odds and displayed his individual conception of their comparative size. Legislated out of business, he soon discovered that there was little or no profit in his efforts! at adjustment with the new scheme, and finally followed his slate into oblivion. Few of his old occupation remain on the turf of today. Individuals are compelled to wager with one another and, because of this world-old desire, A. E. Austin has come into a calling. "Gene" Austin, as he is affectionately known to a generation of American turf history, or, as he lias been dubbed, "The Invisible Turfman," saw the need of some stability of odds and, gathering a corps of assistants, embarked in the business of supplying probable odds to the patrons of the different tracks. Wherever the oral system prevails lie and his staff may be found in their observant activity. Casual visitors to these tracks often remark the similarity of odds offered them and sometimes have formed the iHlief that its reason was the result of u conference between the oralizers, as a class of bettors who devote a great part of their time to racing are called. . Investigation would prove that almost all who offer, and many of those who accept, odds are subscribers to a service of which Austin is the leading figure. HOW THE INFORMATION IS GATHERED. Before the suns rise, and until the morning training-period on the tracks has passed, representatives of this service, timing watch in hand, may be found observing and noting the various moves of all the thoroughbreds undergoing preparation. Others scout the barns searching any information which may affect the performance of these horses in their contests. The racing secretary issues the next days program, and this, with all available data, is sub-mitted to the chief, who thereupon compares all the candidates previous racing records, relying upon a comprehensive library of form charts numbering many volumes. Hours of study, during night and morning, are devoted to these records, which finally result in the arrangement of a set of quotations whicli are based on previous form, present condition, private trials, and all information on hand. Consultution with an assistant who has indulged in a like study sometimes results in a readjustment, and finally the two proceed to the course where they are acquainted witli the probable riders, post positions and other information which may have any bearing upon the probable result. The product of the combined ideas is then distributed without tips or advice to tlie dally subscribers. Some of these regard the proportionate odds as a handicap- ing result and so employ them, while horsemen verifv their private opinions regarding their entries; others stimulate the days wagering in laying or backing by their variance with what eventually becomes the acknowledged basis. THE INVISIBLE TURFMANS PERSONALITY. Austin, who hails from Tama City, Iowa, and whose early turf experience was gained through riding his fathers horses and those of Samuel C. Hildreth at the county fairs in his Irohood days, resembles the, staid business man ratherthan that of the cartoonists conception of the average turf follower. Middle aged, genial, rotound, his face is known to a multitude throughout the United States and Canada who. have never guessed his calling. He may be found at all the race tracks, but never in the act of substantiating his own opinion with a wager, for he does not bet, nor can lie be prevailed upon to advise others in their wagering. The effect wagering might have upon his daily calculations is Ills reason for restraint. He- has been well termed the "Invisible Turfman." Not a speculator in any sense, fortunate in the absolute lack of competition in his field, -where he is regarded as the highest authority, he has probably devoted more hours to the study of racing performances than any other man of his years in the country. If there is any topic he would rather discuss than the running of a race, or thoroughbred pedigrees. It is fishing and hunting. Between seasons he seeks recreation and relief from the continued mental strain in Natures gardens the field and stream. His proudest possessions are the trophies of the hunt and the turf library which he has maintained for years. He takes greater-. pride in a catcli of bass or trout than be does in - counting his yearly earnings, which are considerable. Altogether he is an odd creation of the turf an unofficial personage of necessity, who does not wager nor advise, but by whom others are guided, whenever they are so inclined.

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