Between Races: Long British Columbia Squabble Continues Lansdowne Opens on Twentieth, regardless Offers of Impartial, Daily Racing Form, 1951-06-05


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***** W BETWEEN RACES * osc« om HOLLYWOOD PARK, Inglewood, Calif., June 4. — Last winter this corner noted that a battle royal was in progress in British Columbia between certain segments of the Horsemens Benevolent and Protective Association on one side and the track managements on the other. The squabble was interesting because some of the owners and directors of the British Columbia Turf and Country Club are also operators of stables, and as such -belonged to HBPA, and because the HBPA did not conduct its affairs in a democratic way and because the demands of the HBPA had far exceeded anything ever vbefore seen on the continent. We remarked at that time that the situation was so mercurial that anything written today might be old hat the next. This still holds true, but at last word British Columbia turf officials insist they will open as scheduled on June 20 with their regular announced purse schedule, a minimum of 50, plus 1 per cent of the pari-mutuel handle, the latter being a rebate from the government, and which last year averaged 52 per purse. In other words, the true minimum would *be approximately ,000. The debate between horsemen and management, if one could dignify the name calling and strong language used by the horsemen as a "debate," has filled the Vancouver press for the last several months, and the turf fans of that area have been nauseated by the bickerings, if letters to this "writer may be taken as as indication. Two things are outstanding about the dispute, which boils down as to whether Lahsdowne Park, the Lulu Island plant of the British Columbia turf club, can operate at the break even point, or if they shall be compelled to pay a pures schedule that will force them to Long British Columbia Squabble Continues Lansdowne Opens on Twentieth, Regardless Offers of Impartial Arbitration Refused Protracted Dispute Harmful to B. C. Sport operate at a loss. The second is that, to the best of our information, a few HBPA officials have insisted that all voting on the part of the horsemen be by show of hands, rather than sealed ballot, and some horsemen inform me that they have been frankly afraid to vote as they would like because of fear under the "hand" balloting. A third point is that the California division of the HBPA was called in to fact-find in the matter and make a recommendation, even though they were not in a position to enforce any decision. The California people, headed by vice-president Bill Buck and field secretary Johnny Beverly, tell me that the horsemen in British Columbia are in the wrong. AAA Several weeks ago one HBPA jnan issued a rather pointed statement that the purses as paid by the two British Columbia tracks, Lansdowne and Exhibition Park, did not pay for the upkeep of the thoroughbreds in that province. He then cited total purses paid, and went on to list all the thoroughbreds in the province. He included in his total, broodmares, stallions, yearlings, weanlings and, we suppose, teasers, in addition to horses in training. It was his inferred contention that the purses should more than pay, the way of foals, broodmares, and the like, in other words, support the entire industry. It was a novel argument, and one that was entirely uneconomic, perhaps better described as a naive and childish attitude. But that is just one instance of the thinking which dominates the small clique at the head of the British Columbia horsemens group. It is on such premises that the horsemen are basing their plea. Lansdowne went so far as to open its books to the horsemen, but they were not satisfied with the tracks method of accounting, making quite a point of the fact that the track made some money from the concessions, that is to say, concession money which the horsemen should have, not the concessionaire. AAA Another surprising facet of the long-winded dispute in British Columbia has been the personal bitterness apparent. We now quote from the reports of the Vancouver turf writers, men of high standing and integrity, who are among the more gifted turf writers on the continent: Willie Morrissey, national president of the Canadian HBPA, "The operators started this fuss.* Owners have never done much for us. They want us to guarantee that they will make money by accepting their purses." Dr. K. L. Darbyshire, "It is my firm opinion that purses were only cut last year to test our organization. If we hadnt struck and got 5 more per race, track operators would have offered us 25 again this year." A. L. McLennan, president of British Columbia Turf, "There has been mention that purses were tsut the last two weeks of last season. When we were granted ah additional week at Lansdowne, I was against accepting, it because of the hazard of the weather in late September. I was out of town at that time, but I was told that the horsemen accepted the purses offered of 25 for the extension period only and I thought it must have been a satisfactory arrangement with them." McLennan Continued on Page Thirty-Six BETWEEN RACES By OSCAR OTIS . Continued from Page Forty then proposed that inasmuch as operators and HBPA could not agree, "The matter be put before any judge you the horsemen name for conciliation. I dont want to fight this matter, but we cant pay what we havent got." AAA We could go on for many columns with specific instances, bui this will give you an idea. Boiled down, it amounts to these simple facts: The horsemen have been voting purse schedules which the tracks say they cannot afford to pay, and back up their position with open books and audits. The horsemen claim these audits are not correct, but have refused, it seems, an independent audit. They want certain purses regardless of the fact that track may operate at a huge loss. The whole thing is ironic because British Columbia Turf was organized or rather, re-organized, as a Belmont-type club* expected to elevate the tone of British Columbia racing and provide the people of the province with the Highest type sport possible. It was negated in this desire by the protracted quarrels with the horsemen, plus the insistence of the HBPA that as many races as management would stand for be closed, i.e., carded only for horses owned by residents of British Columbia. This in turn, put a premium on mediocrity. AAA The Vancouver leaders have been accused of anti-American procedures, which has been denied. However, Johnny Beverly informs that California HBPA members are so upset over what it deems discrimination against United States owners that an appeal had been filed with the national officers, said appeal having been placed on the agenda at the last national convention in Florida. It became sidetracked because of pressure of other and more important business. But this writer has pointed out before, and will do so again, that the strongest advocates of the exclusion of American horses in British Columbia race in California, Arizona and Washington in the winter time. "We do not plan any retaliation," says Beverly, "because we in California are not built that way, believing in fair play and reciprocity among horsemen. But we have not dropped the matter. The discrimination complex seems pretty well proved when Ken McConnell, of the Vancouver Daily Province, quoted W. J. Lochhead, of the HBPA, as reviewing "irritations" of that body during recent years, among the "irritants" being an alleged "breach of faith" in which British Columbia Turf, he said, had agreed to bring in a maximum of 650 horses, but more than 700 were stabled. Under a limitation practice, the Americans, of course, wouldbe the ones denied stalls. It seems also that while the HBPA in Vancouver is quite protective, it is not very benevolent. This writer, incidentally, received severe complaints in "Manitoba last summer from horsemen who pointed but that the British Columbia ownership limitation rule worked quite as much hardship upon Canadian Prairie owners as it did upon Americans. And our last information from Vancouver is, by the way, thatpublic opinion has held the position of the HBPA untenable. Without public support, neither the operators nor the horsemen could expect to win. And it might be added that for marathon bickering, the British Columbia situation is without precedent anywhere on the continent, except, perhaps, in British Columbia.

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