OReilly on Racing: Devines Return from European Racing Tour Saw Guineas, Epsom Derby and Ascot Gold Cup Have Regular, Daily Racing Form, 1957-06-25


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, OReilly on Racing By Tom OReilly Devines Return From European Racing Tour Saw Guineas, Epsom Derby and Ascot Gold Cup Have Regular Racegoing Pattern at Home, Too BELMONT PARK, Elmont, L. I., N. Y., June 24.— Prank Devine, blue-eyed, sandy-haired, and crowding 50, is a crack New York newspaperman. He is a copy , reader, reader, headline headline moulder moulder and and reader, reader, headline headline moulder moulder and and Sunday feature writer for our towns Daily News, a lively journal noted for heralding a royal visit with a full, front-page photo of .a correspondents hand, over the caption, "Heres the Hand That Shook the Hand That Rules the British Empire," and, being partial to sentences that read, "her fully clothed body was found on the living room floor." Some of the the News News irreverence irreverence is is apparent apparent the the News News irreverence irreverence is is apparent apparent in Devines approach to life, but one thing he holds sacred is horse racing. Prank and his charming wife, Janice, who has been Mary Margaret McBrides assistant "ever since radios great "cookie-pusher first hit the kitchen sets, have just returned from a six-week racing tour of England and the continent. They also visited their 15-year-old son, Michael, a graduate of Cardinal Hayes High School, who is spending a year in Germany before entering college. The avowed purpose of the trip, however, was to see the English races — the 2,000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby and the Ascot Gold Cup — an ainv that fairly flabbergasted their foreign acquaintances. "Nobody seemed to think any American ever goes to Europe except to visit museums and cathedrals," laughed Frank in the living room of his 52nd Street apartment, which is tastefully decorated with famed prints of Dufy and Degas thoroughbreds. "They were incredulous when I told them racing was as good an excuse as any for visiting the country. As a matter of fact it is. Moreover, it mirrors England. Its a little shabby first class. One Big Wager on Derby "Janice and I had been planning this trip for many years because racing is our favorite sport," he continued. "Although John McNulty once described me in a column as a horse player of the highest type, Ive never tried to make money out of it. As a poor boy in Chicago, I was told that nobody made money on the races. Im not a gambler, basically. I generally bet 0 on a race and I always bet 0 on the Kentucky Derby. But I dothat to test my judgment, not to make money. And, believe me, thats when you enjoy being right. The real reason I go racing, however, is because it makes me feel good. I like the big spectacles, the crowds, the color, the excitement, the contest and the atmosphere of the whole thing. Its pretty." Except for the war, when he Was with the Marines in the Pacific, Devine and his wife have followed the same racing pattern for 22 years. "Were always at Jamaica when the season opens April 1, although Jamaicas a bit like racing in a garage," he grinned. "We reserve one Saturday in April for Laurel, usually for the Chesapeake Stakes, because Maryland is very pretty at that time of year. Whenever we drive to Maryland or Delaware, we stay at the Canvasback Inn in Perry-ville. We see the Wood, of course, then drive to Cincinnati and take the Green Line, Ohio riverboat to the Kentucky Derby. We lay off for a week and then visit Maryland again for the Preakness. We got to Bel- . mont, naturally, spend four Saturdays at Monmouth Park and one week end rundown to Delaware for a big filly race. Fall Meet at Belmont Best "Irr August we usually go to Nantucket, but manage to get over to Saratoga for the Hopeful, on the last day of racing there. We enjoy Belmont in the fall best of all. The air is crisp, the leaves are turning and its at its prettiest. The greatest days racing we ever had was one day last year when Nashua won The Jockey Club Gold Cup, Bold Ruler won the Futurity, and they were both by Nasrullah. We usually duck down to Camden for The Garden State, catch the Pim-lico Futurity and close the season at good old Charles Town, the poor mans race track. "This year we flew to England, April 27, just in time to see Crepello win the Guineas. Then we went over to France, Germany and then down to Italy. We went to Longchamp once, on a Sunday in Paris. Paid a dime to get into the infield. Then we were back in England on time to bet Crepello again in the Derby. We rented a car, drove up to Scotland and came back for the Gold Cup. We played Tissot, the Italian horse in that one. Played him both ways and collected when he ran third. We had a good betting day arid, of course, enjoyed the show very much. "We paid .50 each for our Gold Cup and Guineas tickets in the grandstand and Tattersalls. The Derby tickets cost 0 each and we had to write for them in February to the Epsom Grandstand Association, because Derby tickets are mighty hard to get. The whole trip cost about ,500. We arrived home on the morning of the Coaching Club American Oaks and saw that one, too, but we were pretty tired and going was really just a gag, to tease our non-horsey friends. T must admit that while the amenities for the -public are fairly hopeless in England, the racing itself is immeasurably higher than anything here. There may not be any escalators, but there arent any claiming races either. They only run six races a day but they are all top drawer. The third race is the feature, staged when you are fresh and excited and not half dead from sitting through a long dreary card of cheap events. Nobody rushes home as soon as its over. They stay, for the entire card and bet just as much as they would if- it were last. You feel that, youre attending a real sporting event and the atmosphere is not quite so commercial as it is over here. T liked it better because I have good luck with good horses and no luck with cheap ones. The same goes for people, I guess. The good ones are more consistent. In English racing the sport still depends on wealthy patrons and is still maintained as something maintains the air of a sport conducted for men of leisure. This lends a sporting element and charm that is hard to beat. For instance, all the big races are in the middle of the week. The Derby and Guineas are run on a Wednesday and the entire Ascot meeting with Continued on Page Forty-Seven 07Re!lIy on Racing By TOM OREILLY r Continued from Page Six its royal processionsrun from Tuesday to Friday. "The most important contrast to an American racing fan, however, in the delightful lack of monotony. You dont have the same old six-furlong races starting at the same place and running around a curve all the time. For instance, at Ascot, there was a five-furlong straightaway race for two - year - olds; six furlongs allowance sprint; a mile and one-half event for three-year-olds and the two and one-half miles Gold Cup. Of course, that cant be helped here. We have such long meetings and so many race tracks that our quality is spread pretty thin. Over there, by the way, binoculars are essential because the horses come at you from all directions. "Actually, English racing is in trouble right now. The upper class folks who rule it have run out of money. There is much talk of banning the bookmakers and having the tracks handle all the money through the tote machines. I bet with the tote because most of the bookies dont want to be bothered with small bets. In the tote you can bet two shillings — or 28 cents. The boys in top hats and tails do it, too. I had five pounds of Crepello lh the Derby though, because when I walked on the course I saw a bookie holding him at 2-to-10. He went off at 3-to-10." Devine said there was no racing paper like the Daily Racing Form in England and he missed, most of all, Evan Shipman, whom he rated the greatest racing writer in the world. "Im sincerely sorry to hear he passed away." John McNulty was wrong. Devine is not a "high type horse player." Hes just a smart, fun-loving American racing fan. Youre on, sir.

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1950s/drf1957062501/drf1957062501_6_1
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Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800