Here and There on the Turf: Mr. Riddles Amendment. Help to the Betting. Confusion is Certain. Scratching the Menace, Daily Racing Form, 1924-01-30


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Here and There on the Turf Mr. Riddles Amendment. Help to the Betting. Confusion Is Certain. Scratching the Menace. Samuel D. Riddle has never been known to the turf as a betting man, and he would doubtless resent any such implication, but he has, unwittingly probably, suggested an amendment to the rubs of racing that is of peculiar benefit to those who are famed for their wagers. It is the prohibition of the added starter. There are two reasons for the prohibition. One is to maka possible the accurate "figuring" of the entries by the handicappers, who handicap for betting purposes and the other is to enable the different associations to obtain ths publicity that would come from padded entries and the publication of the names of stars that would not appear at post time. The Jockey Club has studiously avoided any recognition of betting. In . fact, on various occasions it has placed police regulations that made wagering extremely difficult. As for the publicity, it would have doubtful value if the races- did not contain the horses the names of which had been carded overnight. It would not take the public long to find out that the published entries for a stake did not in any sense mean that the field would be made up of all of those sent out in the entries. Just where there is any menace in the added starter is hard to conceive, unbss one looks at it from a betting angle. Of course, the. adding of a horse to a stake rather upsets the "figures" of the handicappers, and should they be barred under the rule suggested by Mr. Riddle it would be possible overnight to arrivie at some conclusion that would be impossible if there were horses added just before post time. It is an excellent amendment to the rules if it was framed for the purpose of assisting in betting. Of course, Mr. Riddle did not consider this side of the question or he surely would not have offered the amendment. Then the question of publicitiy is hardly worth considering. Many of the racing secretaries have frequently been guilty of padding their stakes with the names of horses they knew were not to start. With the amendment the trainers will do the padding for them. It costs nothing to drop the name of a horse through the entry box in a stake. There is a starting fee, but the naming of the horse through the entry box does not mean that hs is a starter. With added starters barred it is easy to see a vast number of horses named for every stake that will not go to the post. What a spectacte it would be to have fifty or more horses programmed for the Metropolitan Handicap. That is more than possibh it is probable if the amendment should prevail. Is there as much to condemn in the adding of Zev to a race before post time as there j would ba to send out his name overnight and then not send him to the post? When an understudy has to jump into the role of a star it is usual for an announcement to be made from the stage offering a refund of admission to those who are not satisfied with the makeshift. Would the racing associations agree to refund the admission to those who had Journeyed to the track to see Zev in action, only to see him withdrawn? It certainly is hard to see just why there should be a change in the rules unless it is made for one of these two reasons to help the betting or to add to tha publicity. It is agreed that it might help the betting materially, but as far as the publicitiy is concerned, it would be sure to result in the public losing all confident in racing publicity. The Jockey Club will go contrary to all its precedents if it enacts a rule to aid betting. It would be interesting to hear of some other good sound reasons for the rule to prohibit added starters. The governors of racing might better occupy their time in formulating some rule looking to the prohibition of entering horses with no intention of sending them to the post. That is a pernicious practice and one that is done for betting purposes. There is no evil in the occasional adding of a starter in a stake race, I but there is real evil in the naming of horse3 i that are not intended as starters. The practice is well known to many, but it is worth explaining to those who are not familiar with its workings. Trainers, in collusion, will name horses for the protection of one : another, and it is usually done in the claiming ; or selling races. j When the entries appear it is found that one i stable may have as many as thrcs horses i entered in one race. Each is of a class above i the race, and it is natural that they will scare out some of the bona fide platers that arc ; engaged. As these are scratched and the field I comes down to just where the conspirators ex-psct, these good horses, that would not have started in any event, are withdrawn in the : I i : ; j i i i ; I : interest of the fellow conspirator. The good horses have done their bit in scaring away the contention and making the race well nigh a certainty for the elected horse. There have been numerous cases of this kind in every racing season, and it is entirely within the rules of racing. There is nothing the matter with the rules, but there are too many schemers who lie awake nights studying out ways to nullify the rules. They are shrewd men and possibly they will always find a loophole, but just now what is wanted is a prohibition against scratching rather than a prohibition against added starters. It is there lies the real reason for reform. It is not seriously thought that the amendment proposed by Mr. Riddb will prevail when it is carefully considered by the governors of racing. There is no reason for the prohibition that the Jockey Club could afford to see and it is an amendment that could readily be far-reaching in the harm done of advertising what will not take place. The entering of horses with no intention of sending them to the post is infinitely more pernicious, and if a rule can be promulgated that would stamp out that practice much would be accomplished for the betterment of the turf. Any trainer who sends an added starter to the post does so with the idea that he might be a winner. Horses arc not added at the eleventh hour to lose. It is not meant by all this that there is anything praiseworthy in the adding of a horse after the regular hour for .the naming of starters has passed. It is well if the field is known the night bsfore, but there must be no prohibition against the adding of a hone when conditions arise that warrant ks being added. There can never be an absolute prohibition against scratching. If there was such a pro-: hibition there would be many an unfit horse sent to the post. What there should be is a j good and sufficient reason for the withdrawal of a horse, just as there is a good and suffi.-s cient reason for the adding of a starter. Of course, Mr. Riddle has not suggested his amendment without a good reason. He is seeking, to do something for the betterment of racing, but he surely could not have considered the harm that could come from such an amendment when it was offered." Mr. Riddle doubtless has a good argument in support of his proposed reform, but in all the long years of the agitation against the added starter there has not been one advanced that could begin to offset the confusion and the menace that would coma from a prohibition. It is well to discourage ths practice of adding horses after the hour for naming them through the entry box has passed, but there are many reasons against the prohibition. It is seldom indezd that there could be a charge of sharp practice in the adding of a starter to a stake. As a matter of fact, just where could the charge of sharp practice stand up in any case? With the naming of horses for a race with no intention of sending them to the post it is impossible to dodge the charge of sharp practice.

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