Between Races: Mackenzie Discusses Purse Distribution; Premium Upon Horse Able to Go Distance; Customer Services Get First Consideration; Extra Services Build Business, Help Sport, Daily Racing Form, 1951-06-14


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J *% f *■ 3? BETWEEN RACES % oso* om HOLLYWOOD PARK, Inglewood, Calif., June 13. — Jack F. Mackenzie, vice-president and general manager of Hollywood Park, and the Horsemens Benevolent and Protective Association have been holding informal and friendly-discussions about the purse distribution at this summer capitol of racing in the West. Mac kenzies ideas on the matter, especially the fundamental concept of race track operation, are worthy of examination in some detail. Comparisons are said to be odious, but as long as some have been made we see no reason why we shouldnt make it complete and offer some more. The HBPA, of course, pointed out that the Hollywood *. purse distribution was not of the same dollar percentage of pari-mutuel "take" as prevails on some eastern tracks, • notably New York. "Our basic thinking on stakes and purses has been twofold," says Mackenzie, "first, we .know that we cannot compete with New York in the matter of stakes horses insofar as volume, or numbers, is concerned. Hence, our program is designed to be adequate and attractive for the stakes horses we do have, with the emphasis placed upon overnight races. "In the overnight races, we put a premium upon the horse able to go a distance of ground. There are two very good reasons for this. In the first place, it is fundamental that racing is of the utmost importance to the improvement of the, breed because the true test of a thoroughbred is his performance on the track. And the improvement of the breed means the improvement of a horses stamina and staying qualities as well as his speed. In the second place, the public likes distance races, and it is obviously good business to give the people what they want. But, r*- as our horsemens own publications continually point Mackenzie Discusses Purse Distribution Premium Upon Horse Able-to Go Distance., Customer Services Get First Consideration Extra Services Build Business, Help Sport out, -there are far too many cheap horses in California and far too few who are -able to go a mile or more. By placing our purse incentive upon the longer races, we believe we will be doing something worth while to improve breeding in our state, as well as increasing public interest in our sport." A A A "Successful operation of - a race track involves a great deal more than paying of high purses/although this item is important," continues Mackenzie. "We feel that customer services and comfort are to be given primary consideration, and to this end, we have gone to great lengths to insure services to a patron which he might not expect anywhere else but in Southern California. , One example might be the parking. We employ enough gatemen to elimiante waiting lines of automobiles, and enough attendants to see that cars are parked without delay. We have a patrol for protection, and a patrol to fix flats, tow broken-down cars, or provide gasoline to "those who may have had their tanks run dry. The service does not end there, however. We have station wagons to help patrons look for lost cars after the race, those who forgot where they left them. And, if a person is unable to drive, we provide a driver, with car following, to see him safely home. We have an ample number of competent doctors and nurses in attendance, and some patrons have written in, following heart attacks, to say that our prompt medical care was important to them and-greatly appreciated. We feel that, in folowing out the business axiom that to make money you must spend money, we have been able to bring great crowds to Hollywood Park through making it a nationally famed showplace and not merely a place where racing is conducted. We are certain that by the wise expenditure of large sums to create a beautiful setting we have attracted many thousands of people who ordinarily would Have no interest in racing. And a visit to Hollywood Park by a newcomer usually results in the creation of a new racing fan, which is good not only for our track but also . for the horsemen whose income depends upon public interest in racing. These are just a few of the many things we do in the way of what might be termed extra service to the patron — extra service that builds business, preserves the sport by making friends for it and enables us to pay attractive purses to the horsemen. AAA "Now, it is our thinking that with all these special attractions and with worthwhile racing, we will be successful," added Mackenzie. "Hence it is fallacious to judge a track or compare on basis of percentage of pari-mutuel "take" allotted to purses. A track operation: must be judged as an over-all operation, not on a single segment of that operation. The results speak somewhat for themselves. On Memorial Day, Hollywood Park was the biggest sports attraction in either baseball or racing in the nation, but with a drawing population of considerably less than half of New York. Our primary gauge of success is attendance rather than pari-mutuel handle. It has been said that California tracks gets a larger percentage from the handle than do those in New York; but this does Continued on Page Thirty-Four S BETWEEN RACES By OSCAR OTIS Continued from Page Forty-Four not make the New York law right, and ours _ wrong. Perhaps the contrary is true. If i* New York had more money to put into cus- - tomer services, it is just possible that its attendance would rise, and in the long run, £ its volume of play and, in turn, a far j greater revenue to the state treasury than r now accrues. On a population basis, the 3 most we could have expected, judged by "* New York, would have been less than 30,000 - instead of more than 58,000. It might be C the comparisons should be the other way Si around. 2 AAA 2 "The two Los Angeles tracks spend, Roughly, about a half million dollars a year jkin improvements and in keeping their i grounds parklike," continued Mackenzie. It is the fundamental premise .of Holly-" wood Park that such expenditures, and 3 such public services as outlined above, has : enabled Hollywood not only to outdraw 3 many other American tracks, on a ratio of £ attendance to population in potential draw-" ing areas, but that this in turn has enabled ] Hollywood to pay far larger purses, both - stakes and overnights, than otherwise § would be possible. This allotment of income between purses and public service has been, in my opinion, what has made the two southern tracks among the leaders in the nation as against centers of population either far greater, or comparable. We have been, and are paying, far greater sums of money in purses than the so-called "4-3-2" plan as sponsored by the horsemen and required by the racing board. Both ourselves and the horsemen are against the policy, but for different reasons. The horsemen feel that it is not enough, and we feel that any arbitrary diversion of any set sum of money for purses is a violation of a fundamental right of management. I was one of the few who spoke out#against the 4-3-2 plan at the time it was broached, and I am still against it, but, as I say, not for the same reason as the horsemen. AAA "The paying of the highest . possible purses is good business for management if only for the reason, the better the show, the better the public support," concluded Mackenzie. "But racing, like most luxury entertainment, has, within the last few years, been confronted by rising operating costs without recourse to increase the charges. For instance, if goods cost more in a grocery store, the grocer marks up his prices to the public. But we wouldnt solve our problems by raising admission prices, or selling two-dollar pari-mutuel tickets for, say, .50. Racing is not a necessity as such, although broadly speaking, entertainment is. The public can take it or leave it alone. If we price it out of the reach of the public, our thought is they will leave it alone. When we lose sight of the fact that our primary obligation is to the public, and that the consideration of the public should come first, I feel that then we will become failures and not do the job we should. After all, the public pays the bills, any anything that will make for greater public support should receive first consideration over the individual demands or wants of any group in racing, and that goes for "all groups." ■«*

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