Between Races: BC Racing Sparked Great Drive Aided British Empire Games Fund Diamond Integrated Turf Effort, Daily Racing Form, 1954-06-09


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BETWEEN RACES By Oscar Otis HOLLYWOOD PARK, Inglewood, Calif. , June 8. Few in the United States know j the details or the magnitude of the accom- pnsnment, but the facts are fairly well known throughout the British Empire, and if there was such a thing as "The Man of the Year" on the worlds turf, we think that vote should be given to Jack Diamond, of Vancouver. Diamond, one of British Columbias best-known turfmen, is the man who crystallized and sparked the drive to raise funds to build the proper facilities and finance the British Empire games, which will be conducted in Vancouver from July 30 through August 7, a period in which there will be no horse racing. The games are being held for the first time in British Columbia, an item which involved a tremendous effort. And it was the thoroughbred people who came forward "fastest with the mostest" in the way of dollars and leadership. AAA A new stadium costing almost ,000,000 had to be built, a swimming pool with accommodations for 6,000 spectators, and a bicycle track costing 00,000 were just a few of the facilities needed. The costs were so staggering that early enthusiasts nearly tossed in the towel. However, a matter of provincial pride was involved, and citizens felt they should go ahead with the project, even if it meant "go for broke" for the taxpayers. Two years ago, Vancouvers mayor, Fred Hume, and other civic leaders, appealed to Jack Diamond, vice-president of the BCTurf and Country Club, operators of Lansdowne Park, for help. He was appointed to head the highly important special events committee of the British Empire games. At that point the city had kicked in with 50,000, the Federal government had matched the provincials 00,000, but the funds objectives were far from reached. Diamond, -in private business a meat packer, set about to integrate the efforts of the sports world, and asked for and received the cooperation of every sports BC Racing Sparked Great Drive Aided British Empire Games Fund Diamond Integrated Turf Effort group, including bowling, basketball, cricket, football, hockey and soccer. But horse racing had the greatest opportunity io raise funds, and Diamond arranged for two days of racing last year, one at Lansdowne, the other at Exhibition Park, for the benefit of the games. It was agreed the provincial government and the tracks would give up their take for the days. AAA Diamond insisted that all purses and salaries be paid, but hinted that if any owners or employes wished to donate their salaries for the two days, such would be. gratefully accepted. What happened then was one of the bright spots in BC turf history. Max Bell, the main cog in the big Alberta Ranches wheel, donated one of the purses, named the Royal Serenade. Then every purse was donated as a gesture not only toward the games, but also as a tribute to Diamond. The HBPA kicked in their 1 per cent bonus for the days, and most employes worked "for the games." As a result, more than 00,000 additional was raised for the games, a sum which, so to speak, put the fund "over the top." AAA Ken McCohnell, turf editor of the Vancouver Province, and, although a turf writer, one of the real influences for sporting type racing and the best interests of Canadian racing in general and British Columbia sport in particular, tells me that turf observers believe the fund raising activities of the thoroughbred people is the brightest chapter in the 60-year-old history of the BC turf. "When Lansdowne Park opens this Saturday for its official meeting, after two days in May for the games" says McConnell, "the turf is enjoying a prestige with the general public never before attained, and as you know, this is a part of the world in which horse racing has broad public acceptance, and in general, more than that, downright affection. Most of the people in the United States think that racing here is comparatively new, but actually, the province has enjoyed the sport for more than 60 years. Once during the blackout of the sport in-New York, in the early 1900s great stables from that city raced here. As long ago as 1895, Clem McCarthy trained and raced horses here. "The province is rightly proud of its racing traditions, as well as its flourishing breeding industry, which at the moment has 60 stallions, 600 broodmares and a steady influx of horses from the old land, Kentucky, and California. But the work of Jack Diamond has become legendary in the province and racing could have received no greater boost. Probably the games would have gone ahead in any event. Probably the citizens would have dug into their very savings rather than disappoint the Commonwealth or have their city accept the full blame for failure to hold the games. But racing played a major role in making the games possible without resort to other types of agonizing money raising. As you know, the moral climate in British Columbia is favorable to racing. But as everywhere, I suppose, there is a small minority who Have to have something to harp on, and choose racing as the easiest target. But now, theyll have a tough time trying to convince anybody in Vancouver or British Columbia, especially anybody with any interest whatsoever in the British Empire games. King horse never had it so good here, or has been held in such high esteem as right now." AAA I The efforts of the BC turf, with Diamond as the active leader, in respect to the British Empire games promotion seems to us one of those achievements of one of racings ideals, namely, the coordination of the sport into the general welfare and advancement of a community and an area. Here in the far west, for instance, the three Southern California tracks have made great strides toward achieving the same ends through racing about 10 per cent of their days for charity, and while the millions raised by the patrons of Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, and Del Mar, have been distributed to worthwhile causes, all funds being disbursed by foundation boards which are quite separate from the track corporations, nothing has happened out this way in 20 years which had quite the dramatic impact of the turfs fund raising program in British Columbia. j

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