Popularity of Derby Col. Winns Work: Made It Nations Top Horse Race; Downs Executive Still Visions Day When Crowd of 100,000 Will Witness Great Classic, Daily Racing Form, 1943-05-01


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Popularity of Derby Col Wirihs Worfc Made It Nation7 Top Horse Race RaceDowns Downs Executive Still Visions Day When Crowd of 100000 Will Witness Great Classic ClassicLOUISVILLE LOUISVILLE Ky April 30 Much if not all of the credit for the building of the Kentucky Derby into a sports attraction of tremendous interest and a race of cham ¬ pionship importance belongs to a native Louisvillian Col Matt J Winn The for ¬ mer grocery salesman has been identified with Churchill Downs for 41 years the last 30 of which saw the Derby expand in pub ¬ lic favor while edging its way forward to the eventual pinnacle among American racing fixtures fixturesDuring During the first few years that he was in charge Colonel Winn laid some of the groundwork which still supports this na ¬ tional event and while the results of his early planning were not discenable to the public they became so later for in ten years he had his program to make the Derby the greatest race in America wellon its way Prom that time until economic conditions intervened in the early 30 s the interest of racing and the turf public showed a substantial increase from year to year For purposes of comparison the Derby in 1912 was worth 4850 to the owner of the winner while in 192L the purse to the victor was 55375 the highest up to that time timeFollowing Following the depression Colonel Winns promotional genius and extraordinary showmanship again became manifest and from a dip of 28175 as the purse to the winner in 1934 it rebounded to draw in ¬ creasingly larger crowds and last year had its greatest winning value of 64225 although the 1942 attendance due to the war was somewhat under that of the rec ¬ ordbreaking estimated 94000 who wit ¬ nessed the race the previous year yearWinns Winns Two Goals Goalsnven nven before he took charge of the local track Colonel Winn was convinced that the Derby just as had been done in Eng ¬ land could be developed to a stage where it would command nationwide if not in ternational consciousness He saw that as i the Derby drew larger crowds the prize money could be increased and a deeper interest created among breeders and own i ers of thoroughbreds thus attracting the nations outstanding horses essential indeed if the Derby was to attain championship qualifications qualificationsColonel Colonel Winn realized too that show ¬ manship and exploitation were necessary to achieve his two goals that of making the Derby superior to any race of its kind and drawing more people to witness it He steadily increased the value of the Derby and through that consideration and by his own personal magnetism has been able to bring to Louisville the best threeyear olds in the country each spring These horses he expertly merchandized with the result that many times he has been re ¬ quired to increase the capacity of the Downs plant until now it can accommodate more than 125000 persons personsColonel Colonel Winn has not yet been able to count the 100000 persons he hoped to see one day in Churchill Downs for the big classic for the record Derby attendance two years ago was still 6000 short of that figure and he naturally doesnt expect as many patrons tomorrow as a year ago but he is reiterating a prediction made many years ago that upward c 100000 will some day witness the spectacle and perhaps that time will come right after the war warThe The Interest of this octogenarian racing executive goes back farther than his actual connection with Churchill Downs for in his youth he was a regular patron of the track and few persons indeed can claim his distinction of having seen every running of the Kentucky Derby which tomorrow will be unfolded before him for the 69th time

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1940s/drf1943050101/drf1943050101_3_1
Local Identifier: drf1943050101_3_1
Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800