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BETWEEN RACES By Oscar Otis HOIiYWOOD, Inglewood, Calif., June* t 7. — During the recent unpleasantness in] Chicago between the HBPA and Sports mans Park, the Issue was raised as to whether the signing of an application blank for stalls constituted a legal contract. Management seemed to think that it did, and the horsemen, for the most part, thought it did not. Several days ago, this writer called attention to the words of the publisher of this newspaper at the NASRC convention in Miami at which he called upon all hands to settle disputes before the strike stage was reached. The issues involved hinged largely upon the stable "contract" and some people were of the opinion that if a legal and binding contract were in force, such an impasse as halted the racing in Chicago not only should have but could have been settled perhaps a month before the meeting was to open. We now learn that Charles Town, which opens June 27, has a condition book which attorneys for the racing association and the HBPA agree is a legal contract. Leeds K. Reilyi of the Charles Town management, provided this writer with this contract, and it is entirely possible that the State of West Virginia and the Charles Town race track will establish a precedent which will be universally-adopted on the turf. As we interpret the Charles Town conditions, they are in agreement with the principles of mediation and solution prior to the opening of a meeting of any major disagreements which might arise. AAA Because of the importance to racing in general, and this means the best interests of the horsemen, the management, the public and the state we are listing the Charles Town plan in some detail. First, every condition book is numbered, and when a horseman makes application for stalls, he must list the number of his condition book on his application, and his signature is sealed. The stall application reads, as follows: "This application is made for stalls upon the conditions set : forth in this condition book No. — and sub- : sequent additional issues and do hereby agree if allotted stalls to abide by the conditions in same, the rules therein and to : protect and maintain your property and keep same neat, orderly, and keep my dogs : tied, and maintain any electric lights in t : : : : Charles Town Contract in Book i Number , Signature on Applications Slips Binding on Both Parties Designate Commission as Arbiter my section, and not to use or permit any of stalls allotted me to be used for any horses, other than those named by me in this application, with permission of the management, otherwise stalls shall be forfeited and vacated immediately upon notice by the Charles Town* Jockey Clubs representative," and do further agree to be responsible for the conduct of my employees by dismissing any who are undesirable or violate this agreement, and not to wager on any horse or race in any other than the legal manner as set forth in The Code of West Virginia Racing Law, and I do hereby agree, to the above and the conditions, set forth governing the meeting covered by above condition book, and further agree that any stalls occupied by my horses or men shall be at my risk in case of loss from fire or injury from any case. I or we hereby set my or our hand and seal." AAA Following is an excerpt from the West Virginia law as printed in the condition book: "The West Virginia Racing, Commission, recognizing the necessity of the obligations of a racing association to comply with its requrements under the license granted it by the West Virginia Racing Commission, under the authority of the State of West Virginia, and fulfilling its obligations to the public and the State of West Virginia with the best possible uninterrupted services, . in its comparatively short licensed period, herein provides that all racing associations, officials, horsemen, owners, trainers, jockeys, grooms, platers and all licensees who have accepted directly or indirectly, with reasonable advance notice the conditions under which said racing association engages and plans to conduct such race meetings, shall be bound thereby." AAA The State then sets up automatic arbitration machinery, designating the State Racing Commission as arbiter in the following language: "If, however, the said commission shall find that the causes for the said termination or discontinuance of said employment, engagements or activities under such accepted conditions are reasonable, lawful, in good faith, not contrary to the rules, regulations and conditions of the i ♦West Virginia Racing Commission and the statutes of the State of West Virginia, .and not detrimental to the public interest or the best interests of horse racing, then said termination or discontinuance of employment, engagements, or activities under such accepted conditions shall not be grounds for suspension, cancellation or revocation of the licenses of said persons, and the commission shall so advise all parties in interest and shall use its best efforts to settle any disputes by and between said parties." AAA As we see this law and the binding agreement in the condition book, there could be no cessation of racing for any cause, and if any disputes arose, they could be ironed out by the racing board if management and the horsemen did not agree. It sounds like a common sense approach to the problem of differences of opinion, and as racing is a special privilege sport, because of the pari-mutuels and the tax revenue to the states involved, there, should be no strikes, regardless. A strike of horsemen is in effect a strike against themselves, for any strike is bound to impair public confidence. While it is true the sport has developed amazing popularity and recuperative powers, that is begging the question of how much stronger it would be without suffering body blows. Incidentally, during the last several days, this writer has received a flood of letters from all over the country decrying the injection of personalities into any turf dispute of any nature. One HBPA official here on the Coast remarked: "I believe a reassessment of purse values throughout the country is inevitable. Here in California we believe that there are certain inequities which are bound to come up for discussion. However, when they do, we hope that all parties, including ourselves, can conduct whatever negotiations there are without venom or bitterness." In California some horsemen fell that the so-called "4-3-2" plan is no longer adequte, and while we , understand that purses as such will not ! present an unsurmountable problem, there is still a fundamental disagreement between . the HBPA and most managements as to how the purses shall be distributed. Del ■ Mar, for instance, is upping its purses, and : the HBPA wants the increase used to raise , the minimum from ,000 to ,200. Man- agement isnt keen about this, feeling that if Del Mar does not sharply grade its purses, its all-over racing -programs will suffer. At the same time, the HBPA has accepted, in principle the proposition of better purses for better horses, but the rub seems to be as to how much better.