Pari-Mutuels in New York: Frank T. Clark Relates Amusing Incidents That Occurred in 72, Daily Racing Form, 1922-02-24


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PARI MUTUELS IN NEW YORK ■* I « » i _u Frank T. Clark Relates Amusing Incidents That Occurred in 72, Hi tl First Machines Used in America Were Set Up at Old Jerome Park Track. j|S ft # ii Though it is- doubtful whether a mn hine could have beea found on any race track hi America ten years ago, tie- miituei v-lcni i, not new here; it is. in fact, older than liooktTiaking in this country. Frank T. Clark, whose connection with racing in Nev. York goes lack almost half a century, tells an interesting story of its introduction at Jerome Park in the early days of that famous and fashionable race track. "It mus have been aliout 1872." he said, "that I*eonard W. Jerome set up the first machines ever ii-ed in this country on the lawn at Jerome Park. Ho had seen them in Paris, and liked them so well he determined to try them in New York. I was in charge of the subscription rooms of the old American Jockey Club, at Madison avenue and Twenty-seventh street, at that time, and as the cluh conducted the meeting at Jerome Park, I had a hand in the business. "I remember as well as if it were yesterday how anxiously Mr. Jerome and all the rest of the offi-eeia wakad forward to the arrival of two machines he had ordered from Paris. The last boat due before the meeting opened came in without them, but that was not enough to defeat the man who had bein telling all his friends about the new system of betting he was going to introduce on the opening day at Jerome Park. Not much! Instead of giving up. he sent me out to find a first-class carpenter, and when 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 HOMEMADE 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 -ecu 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 plaj, 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 ticket* fist enough to keep up with the demand for 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 him write the tickets. When a man wanted to bet five dollars, they would just put down Longfellow 5 on the card to save time, instead of writing out five different tickets. "Well, they got away with it, but I think it was about the busiest day Mr. Jerome ever had iu his life. When the last race was over, Mr. Jerome gave nil the money to Theodore Moss, telling him to take it downtown to the subscription rooms in Twenty-seventh Street, and pay off. "Now comes the tiost part of it. I helped Io cash the tickets as the boys came in and presented them, and after we had paid out all the money 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 good deal more money than was coming to them. 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 off, if they appear to be right,* he said, and charge it up to me. "Those homemade 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 Shields, who died ber» 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 about 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 times in the last forty years that he didnt remind me of it, and I used to sec him nearly every week during the racing season at Sheepshead 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 s.v-teoi of tietting. The mutuels became popular In an incredibly short time, and in a few years wern on nearly every race track of any consequence In the Inited States."

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