California: Pleasanton Maintains Traditions Sharp Upgrading in Quality Seen Fair Meeting Important to Turf, Daily Racing Form, 1957-06-26


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, ; Y * 1 mi f| California I! By Oscar Oiis • Pleasanton Maintains Traditions Sharp Upgrading in Quality Seen Fair Meetings Important to Turf PLEASANTON, Calif., June 25,— Just 122 years ago, if the ancient California records are to be believed, the first scheduled race meeting was held here y in historic Pleasanton, -a race meeting that was sponsored by the , Spanish Grandees and Dons, who lived in this area long before the ; coming of the Yankees. Y From all accounts, the racing in those days * was a sporting affair, and although they had no pari-mutuels or tote 1 in those days, vast sums changed hands in man to man betting, as often as not the wagers being made in land, which was plentiful, or cattle, which were numerous, or a*t times in cattle llides, a common medium of exchange and which brought a high price in cold cash in Boston, a story in itself and well told in Danas factual book on early California, "Two Years Before the Mast." The people who run the Pleasanton meeting of today, meaning the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and the manager of the fair, Sam Whiting, are attempting to preserve this early Spanish atmosphere as much as possible without any sacrifice of progress. As you might imagine, this is a delicate ! task, but by no means an impossible one. Still and all, the complexion of the fair racing is changing-, not only at Pleasanton, but all along the circuit, a wheel which in the northern part of the state sees this meeting followed by Vallejo, then Santa Rosa, San Mateo, Humboldt county fair at Stockton, and then the big state fair at Sacramento. The cheap Horses and gyp horsemen have all but disappeared. For, as racing secretary Wesley Meyers points out, the minimum purse here has almost been doubled in five years, from 00 to ,200 to be exact, but this yardstick does not begin to tell the story any more than Hollywood Parks minimum of ,000 gives any clue to the immensity of the purse distribution in Inglewood. The minimum is purposely kept low here to take care of the small percentage of horses on the grounds in the bottom claiming bracket, ,000, "and the purse most often encountered is the ,400 or ,500 value. "Straight economic laws have forced the colorful old-timer out of business on the California fair circuit," explains Meyers, "or else has made him change his thinking and acquire better .horses. Those who have found the fairs no longer tenable have gone out of state, I wouldnt know where, but others have adjusted to the times and upgraded their racing stock to meet the competition. Actually, the fairs are a paying proposition to its horse folk quite in line ! with the earning potential of a horse at Hollywood Park. In other words, the -successful man can make a financial go of it at either plac. As for the horses who dont pay their way, nobody has come up with a satisfactory answer for that one at any track, Hollywood or Pleasanton. You turf writers have written a lot about the importance of better horses and you need only look to Pleasanton to prove your point. But at the same time, in the final analysis, horses pretty much grade themselves at tracks throughout the country according to purses paid, and as long as we can keep upping the purse distribution here, our future is assured. But the. whole thing is a circle, for when we get a greater percentage of better horses, our patronage rises, wagering rises and, in turn, the purses automatically increase. The4 two seem to go together." A couple of "years ago we made the point that setting has a lot to do with what people think horses are worth, and regardless of the absolute intrinsic value of a horse, said value is relatively unimportant if people have a high regard /or the stock. For instance, the horse population here is comprised by about 65 per cent of horses which raced at the recent spring major meeting at Bay Meadows, an item which, as fans read their past performances tables in Daily Racing Form, automatically confirm an •aura of ability upon them. But at the same time, quite aften the reverse is true in the fall at the San Francisco tracks when fans see fair past performance tables and conclude that the horses are inferior to say a horse with Del Mar form. Yet they are, as a group, the same horses, and the sooner people in the San Francisco area become acutely aware of the fact that horse racing on the fair loop has come of age, the more objective outlook can be realized, and this in turn would help San Francisco racing to a considerable degree. This is our own opinion for what it is worth, but we feel very keenly on the matter that we are .right. There is such a thing as becoming too sophisticated in the approach to racing, and some of that super sophistication can be noticed even at a place like greater New York, where too many people have had the notion that if a feat was not accomplished on Long Island, it should be automatically discounted. Public relations-wise, the HBPA as a group has never supported the California fair circuit as it should, and although we well realize that each owner must make up his own mind in such matters, the sending of a division of a "big name" stable to the fairs means a lot. We have two such representations this summer, Alberta Rancnes having four on the ground, and public trainer Reggie Cornell three. The folks in the hinterlands, or cow country, love to see the colors of famous names in action, and their mere appearance on the track makes for favorable comment. It seems to us that the HBPA has some responsibility in,the promotion in the sport, but the fans have had to struggle upward the hard way for the most part with little or no encouragement to the fairs. But .come a harmful bit of legislation introduced in Sacrameto and the rush is on to point out the value of the fairs and its racing. And, as the "big metropoliton people quickly find out, the rural areas of the state have representatives and senators in Sacramento along with Los Angeles and San Francisco. The fairs are not looking for any subsidy, but they do feel, and with a great deal of reason, .that the ownership industry in this state has never gone out of its way to really help. And some insist that good racing is absolutely essential to the continued welfare of Santa Anita and Hollywood Park, if only for the reason that upward of a million people a year, presumably- voters, get their only racing pleasure as patrons at one w Continued on Page Forty-Fhft CALIFORNIA J By OSCAR OTIS Continued from Page Eight more of the fairs. If they like what they see, they become friends of racing. For the fairs are actual, visible demonstrations of horse racing-, while Hollywood and Santa Anita, to, as we say, millions of people in California who live outside the metropolitan areas, are just squibs in the sport pages of the local newspaper. And by comparison, the metropolitan racing is Unreal as compared with actaal attendance at the races at it fair.

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