Predicts Great Racing Year: Judge Joseph A. Murphy Convinced That Turf Will Prosper and Gain New, Daily Racing Form, 1935-04-17


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PREDICTS GREAT RACING YEAR Judge Joseph A. Murphy Convinced That Turf Will Prosper and Gain New Adherents Throughout the Country His Observations ARLINGTON, Texas, April 16 Joseph A. Murphy, one of the foremost figures in the racing game in this country for forty years and at present concerned with making the Arlington Downs meeting in Texas the success it is, believes that the thoroughbred sport is in for one of its greatest seasons this year. Judge Murphy, whose . judgment in racing matters carries widespread weight, made this and other observations when interviewed in his offices at the Waggoner plant by a representative of Daily Racing Form. Judge Murphy, who also directs the racing at the Detroit Fair Grounds, and who i3 a stockholder and director of the Hawthorne track in Chicago, said: "It is true that recent legislation has scattered the sport over great areas, many of them causing conflicting dates, but I am satisfied that there will be horses enough for everybody, and I believe that with the gradual return of economic normalcy, racing will improve from this time on. In my judgment, it is in for one of its greatest years." Coming as it does from a man of judge Murphys experience and vision, this forecast will go a long way toward spiking the lamentations of those who opine that the country is getting too much racing and that turf interests are killing their own sport. The genial racing official, whose vast experience in his field makes his opinions and rulings valued among horsemen, with characteristic frankness also gave his views on other matters relating to the sport. He made a particularly poignant criticism about the manner in which racing is supervised in some quarters. Asked whether he believes the commission form for supervising racing is the more pratical or whether he thought racing could better be handled by an experienced racing man, or a board of racing men, judge Murphy said: "There is no question in my mind that it is a tremendous advantage to have racing under the authority of some man or board of men clothed with the proper legal authority to enforce rules and regulations and to prevent the overdoing of racing in any community. Unfortunately, however, in some places racing commissioners have been chosen more from the viewpoint of political expediency than from any practical knowledge of racing they might have. Then, too, in my judgment, the racing commissions themselves have blundered in not calling into their councils men who have spent their lives in mastering a technical and intricate sport. I believe if the various commissions had taken advantage of the advice of experienced men who would have been willing and anxious to appear before them and help them in their deliberations, there would not be the controversy over the new rules which now exist." Judge Murphy lauded newspapers and particularly Daily Racing Form for the valuable publicity they give to racing. A former newspaper man himself, the Judge said: "There is no question that the racing publications have been a tremendous force in the bringing of racing up to the popularity which it now enjoys. This is particularly so of Daily Racing Form and its publications. "As a matter of fact, I-have always had a great personal interest in Daily Racing Form. It is a matter of history that I came near owning the paper twice once when it was founded by Frank Brunell and later when Brunells health began to fail. Frank Brunell and I were on the sports desk of the Chicago Tribune when he founded Daily Racing Form and he begged me for weeks to go in as an equal partner with him on the. paper, which was financed by Barney Schreiber, at that time one of the leading breeders and owners in the Middle West. "Then Harlem was built and I preferred to take the racing secretaryship of that track. Six months before the paper was purchased by its present owners, Brunell invited me to come to New York from Bowie, where I was serving in the stand, and tendered "me the editorship of the paper at a big salary, df-fering at the same time to give me an option of purchase extending over several years. I could not bring myself to the idea of getting back on a desk and as it also necessitated my setting up a residence in New York, I refused the offer. "I have seen it grow from almost a scratch sheet into one of the most interesting and valuable racing publications in the known world. "The daily papers throughout the United States also have bee; mere than kind to racing in their neys columns and the advertising they hry?e given it also has been a tremendous factor in the present popularity of the sporjt. I am firmly of the belief that the running of racing information through the various editions of papers furnishes one of their greatest circulation mediums." Switching the conversation to a subject governing the conduct of racing itself, the Daily Racing Form correspondent asked judge Murphy what he believes will be the effect of several recently enacted rules of racing, principally the claiming rule. "My understanding," the judge answered, "of the policy of the people who framed the new claiming rule is to do away as far as possible with claiming races, and if this result can be reached, I believe it will be one of the greatest things that have been accomplished for racing in the United States. Whether they have gone at it in the right way or not, I believe only a fair trial will show, but those who have been behind the movement certainly have sufficient interest in the breeding and racing industry to make such changes from time to time as may bring the provisions of the rule into practical and intelligent operation. "I understand," he continued, "that in Australia there are no claiming rules and there is no reason why, finally, such a. result should not be reached in this country. Unfortunately, Ave have permitted the foundation of our programs to be the claiming races, with a consequent deterioration not only in the class of horses but in the class of racing offered andt I might also addx in the class of those who own and race these horses. "There is one weakness, in my judgment, in the whole scheme, and that is that the burden of classifying the horses at the various race tracks is placed on the racing secretary and we will find as we go along the gentlemen who hold these positions probably will have considerable difference of opinion as to the classification of these horses, which will result in continual controversies, more or less acrimonious. "If the Association of Racing Commissioners could cement their organization sufficiently to provide a national office of handicapping, where every thoroughbred in the United States could be placed in his proper grade by experts, and the various racing secretaries in the United States notified from day to day of the changes in the classifications, we would have a workable system that I think probably could be perfected where it would function smoothly. "Assuming that the regular handicap division is Grade A and moving down from that to B, C and D, there would be no necessity in the Grade D of any handicapping at all, nor of any claiming clause in the conditions of races, because these horses would be of such class that the competition practically would class them together without any handicap or any necessity of a claiming price. With twelve horses in this class running daily, we probably would have a different winner each day and as a horse won races he could be moved up into the grade above so that no horse could monopolize this lower grade of races. "The top price, of ,000," Mr. Murphy said, "may be too low. However, when a horse must run for a price1 above that, there is no reason why he should not take his place in the grade handicaps and in the final analy-. sis it would work out for the benefit of the owner himself, because he could run his horse without fear of its being claimed. There is no question in my mind that the present open claiming rule has done more to injure the breeding industry than anything we have had in years, because no man will take the grief and expense of buying yearlings and developing them if someone can reach in at the first time of starting and take from him a finished racer, ready to put a saddle on." The Judge was just as thorough in his discussion of the various forms of wagering on race tracks. Asked whether he thought the oral, or book form, or the mutuels better served the public, he said: "I am to some extent at a loss to answer this question intelligently other than that I am willing to go on record as saying that except for New York, bookmaking is an obsolete system of betting in the United States. In the first place the expenses of horsemen have become so great that it is absolutely essential that large stakes and purses should be offered by racing associations for them to have a chance to meet expenses at all, and, except in New York, with its tremendous population, no racing association can derive the necessary revenue from bookmaking. "While my advice has not been asked and may not be wanted, my personal judgment also is that New York will be better off under the present system of bookmaking than it would with mutuels. "When we revived racing in Chicago we started with the bookmaking system and when we decided to ask for a mutuel bill, all of us thought that it would not be a question of how much we would handle, but how much we would shut out, and when "Curley" Brown built Arlington Park he told me that he would average 20,000 people a day, and ,000,000 a day in the mutuels. It never worked out that way. Except for rare occasions, such as holidays or, possibly a classic or two at Arlington Park, no race track in Chicago has had a million dollar day. "The tendency of mutuels," judge Murphy continued, "is to make small bettors out of big ones, and I venture to say that at all of the tracks in the country today, eighty per cent of the bets are two dollar bets. As for the question of the public itself, the percentage in the mutuels, no matter to what extent it has been carried on in this, country, is always less against the bettor .than in bookmaking. I venture to say that there is not a book sent out in the United States, whether over the wire or held up for public consumption in New York, that does not carry at least twenty per cent on its prices offered. There is not a race track in the country taking that from the mutuels under the present statutes. "It might be said, and justly, that the mutuels are a protection to the public inasmuch as they prevent people from over-playing themselves in many instances. The betting being on a co-operative plan, it is apparent that the more money one places oh a horse the less price he will receive and at race tracks where pools are small and consequently sensitive, a man may win as much by betting half of the amount he wishes to bet as he would by betting the entire amount. This statement may seem paradoxical, but those who deal in percentages will know that it is correct. "However," he continued, "the class of patronage that New York draws probably would not be as greatly affected by this condition as other cities, but after a tremendous flurry at the start of mutuels in New York, unless it is different from other communities, the betting will reach a certain level and probably will remain there. It is almost uncanny where meetings extend for any length of time in a city, to watch the mutuel take from day to day, and see the almost negligible fluctuation in the totals, except, of course, Saturdays and holidays." Asked, finally, how he felt about the man who makes a little bet now and then away from the track, Judge Murphy said: "Personally, I can see no objection to this, providing that the operating of places where such bets are made does not become a menace to racing itself."

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