Between Races: Plan Turf Clubs for Longacres, Centennial California Concept Anent Clubs Explained, Daily Racing Form, 1951-06-07


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BETWEEN RACES * os™ °™ HOLLYWOOD PARK, Inglewood, Calif., June 6. — The California concept of the turf club seems to be catching on, and although the exclusive area which has been a part and parcel of Santa Anita, Hollywood Park and Del Mar since the building of those tracks have been slow to gain widespread acceptance, the trend is nevertheless unmistaKabie. we say caiiiornia concept" of a turf club, because the California clubs differ considerably from the sanctified precincts which preceded them in a few other and older turf sections of the nation. We have heard it said with finality in some parts of the Eastern Seaboard that a turf club is undesirable in that it violates a principle of democracy, but it has also been a fact that where this point has been raised, there also has always been a clubhouse where patrons were sorted, or assorted, on the basis of price. Some tracks, like Garden State Park, have always insisted, however, that their accomodations for the general admission patron be quite as luxurious as those prevailing in the clubhouse. In any event, the latest tracks to become converts to the proposition that a turf club, California style, can be an asset to racing are Centennial Park, in Colorado, and Longacres, in Washington. Both are converting areas into turf club enclosures, and are, of course, staying within the spirit and letter of the law regarding repair expenditures. Both tracks were fortunate in having locations which could be adapted with a minimum of work. At Centennial, a huge directors room, which was hardly used during the inaugural meeting, and a portion - of the stand already given over to clubhouse, is being set aside. At Longacres, president Joseph Gpttstein is reserv- Plan Turf Clubs for Longacres, Centennial California Concept Anent Clubs Explained Private Turf Areas Held Not Undemocratic Leading Citizens Rated- Top Turf Patrons ing the upper tier of the clubhouse, doing a bit of terracing, and will feature "outdoor dine and watch the races at the same time," as prevails at the Southern California tracks. AAA One might properly ask what the "California concept" of a turf club might be and how it differs from the old-time aristocratic theory of a turf club. The answer is basic. The old-time turf club was strictly a membership affair, and was reserved for members and their approved guests. Much of the resentment against them, we are convinced, stemmed from their lack of support by their own members. In other words, on a crowded Saturday, fans could look into the stands and see great areas — turf club areas— which were not in use, almost vacant, and this, coupled with the fact that said fans could not find seats, or even a good vantage point to witness the races, led to some understandable grumbling. The California clubs are technically membership affairs, but not in the stuffy sense, and a membership committee is apt to approve most anyone who applies who would not personally be obnoxious to others. Under this plan, the turf clubs may be termed democratic in that most everyone who really wants to belong can get in, the revenues of the club are enhanced, which in turn enables a higher purse distribution, and on most days the full facilities of the* club are in use. AAA One of the problems of some race tracks has been to interest the leading citizens of the community in the turf, an item which they never have been able to exploit rto their fullest because many of the so-called "best citizens" will not attend any sporting event without some degree of comfort. It is no more undemocratic to create a turf club than it is to provide private boxes. Common sense is the determining factor in the matter, and we dare say there are only two really exclusive turf clubs in operation on the continent, neither of them in the United States. To make it a smart and socially correct thing to attend the races is a desirable objective of the sport, and to say that the California turf clubs have done just that would be putting it mildly. That Centennial and Longacres are adopting the plan is an indication of progressive managements. It goes without saying that both tracks are among the leaders in insisting upon comfort for the average fan. AAA No track ever was so dependent upon initial success by reason of a turf club as was Del Mar. The late William A. Quigley, who, with the financial backing of Bing Crosby, built Del Mar, once remarked to this writer,* "They think we are crazy building a track 100 miles from Los Angeles, where we expect to obtain the bulk of our patronage. We dont think so. It is a long way to go, but we are going to make the racing here worth "the trip. We expect to make our turf club a rendezvous of the movie folks and Los Angeles society, and it is an old axiom of the resort and entertainment business that where the classes go, the masses follow. Well have one Continued on Page Thirty-One BETWEEN RACES I By OSCAR OTIS Continued from Page Forty of. the nattiest plants in America for the masses, and one of the smartest clubs in America for the classes. We are counting on this, plus the fact that we will make the racing the central core of an integrated beach vacation area, to make- Del Mar a success." That Del Mar succeeded beyond the fondest dreams ever entertained by Quigley is now a matter of record. AAA The Centennial set-up is worth one more comment. The board of directors room was built with the idea that its facilities would be- available for the 40 directors of the club, and their guests. This board of 40, incidentally, is the largest in America. In any event, the directors did not see eye to eye on how the facility should be utilized, with the result that the room, while not closed during the inaugural meeting there, was seldom used. Since the first meeting, however, the management has been more centralized. Willard F. Tunney has been given a free hand, and he decreed that the ideas as worked out at Del Mar and adapted to Centennial would be the only common-sense solution. Hence the enlargement of the facility, and the opening of applications for membership to the proper people of the great Rocky Mountain area. And we dare say that the club will prove to be a great asset to Centennial, which is embarking upon its second year on a firm financial basis and with the full realization that while the track will never be another Santa Anita, it can be a benefit to the citizens of Colorado and serve to influence tourists to this summertime trout capitol of the continent, and to the summertime turf capitol of the Rocky Mountain empire.

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