Between Races: Downs Seeks Answer to Crowd Problems Hugenberg Outlines Improvement Plans, Daily Racing Form, 1958-05-05


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mis m — m Jm Between Races By Oscar Otis- Downs Seeks Answer to Crowd Problems Hugenberg Outlines Improvement Plans Jones Fancies Western Riding Pattern CHURCHILL DOWNS, Louisville, Ky., May 3.— If someone in America could come up with an answer as to what to do with Churchill Downs and its Derby day crowd problem, Id sure like to hear about it," mused Stanley Hugenberg, executive vice president of Churchill Downs. After unprecedented pressure for reserved seats, the man watched the Derby, on telavision in his office, and then permitted himself the luxury of a bit of relaxation. "In the last seven years, weve poured more than two million dollars worth of improvements ments into into the the Downs, Downs, but but still still ments into into the the Downs, Downs, but but still still m — Jm our problems are worse than ever. We have a number of projects on the drawing board for major construction, but wont make up our minds until we get a more detailed report from the engineers as to which project we will undertake before our next spring season. We plan to add some barn space, maybe build one, brand new barn, which we need badly. Just accommodating the Derby horses took 70 stalls, "what with ponies and feed rooms. And we do plan to rebuild, in concrete, section seven .in our box area — thats up near the clubhouse turn, which will make all stands at Churchill non-wooden. "As for added box seats at Churchill, as. far as I am concerned, I will never spend the money to build a box that isnt first class, and by that I mean one from which a patron can get a clear view of the race. We have too many of the other kind already. From a strict business point of view, racetrack financing is a rather ruggediusiness. For instance, a new box seat wouldnt pay for itself under 33 years, and it wouldnt even in that period if you included chair renewal and upkeep." Big Derby Field Taxes Accommodations We asked Hugenberg how it was he got caught with his boxes down, so to speak, this season. He explained: "Well, it sounds strange, but when we built those new boxes on the third floor out front, we thought we had the box problem solved. And we did, for a while. But of those boxes we didnt need to take care of very important people, and when Derby fields were small and owners requirements consequently limited, we sold those boxes with the implicit understanding it was for the season, or race only. Now, as a racetrack executive, I think I can say no as fast as the next fellow, maybe quicker. But even I couldnt look these people in the eye and say no for they took pcssession of these boxes by what you in the West would call squatters rights." — * / "Our only answer is to extend the Churchill stand and clubhouse backward in depth, but that not only involves a lot of money but also one of the. most intricate engineering problems. For Churchill, as most everyone realizes, just grew, with one addition after the other through the years, and we have a sort of a hodge podge. So, whenever you change any portion of it, the repercussions on other areas-are as often as not major. For example, when we built those new 600 boxes of the front row, third floor, we had to change the sight lines of every other seat on that deck, otherwise the new boxes would have blocked the view. And they had to be as high as they* are or they would have blocked the view of the boxes in the deck underneath. "The point that pains me the most is the general discouragement of a large segment of the American racing public which year after year has written in requesting reservations, and year after year regretfully have been turned down. Too many people now* feel they have no chance of getting a luxury accommodation and have given up trying. I wouldnt even try to estimate the Derby potential in attendance if we could accommodate them. And I shudder every time I think of the people who we would like to have been here, and shouWhave been here this year, because, as you put it, we were caught with our boxes down.," Jones Likes Valenzuelas California Style | As these lines are written, the outcome of the Derby is in doubt, but the reasoning behind the Jimmy Jones choice of Ismael Valenzuela to pilot Tim Tarn in the Derby, regardless of the outcome, are of interest. As Jones puts it: "There is no telling how much. Johnny Longden has influenced racing patterns on the West Coast, and I dont need to tell anyone who has seen racing both East and West that these patterns are divergent and differ more than a casual glance might appear. John Longden was a great rider at Santa Anitas first meeting, and his method of getting away from the gate, and staying there, undoubtedly interested other riders to emulate his tactics. They saw him win too many races on horses which didnt figure to stay as long as they did — with Longden. Today in California you run all the way for it, be it 6 furlongs or 14 miles. I believe that type of racing is superior to and more competitive than the old fashioned in New York where the early part of a race was more leisurely and more premium placed upon timing a move, etc. It is also interesting that it has been New York which has changed toward, but by no means as yet approximating, the California style. I myself believe the California pattern is the soundest racing because Continued on Page Twenty I BETWEEN RACES I By OSCAK OTIS I . i I Continued1 from. Page Seven it is a more rugged test of a horse, and under these conditions, the best horse will more often than not win. Valenzuela not only understands the California pattern but is a strong finisher. - Win" or lose this Derby, Im sure the choice of type of rider was correct." . As little a time ago as Monday, the possible Derby field stood at 25 or 26. But as is usual with Derbys, some owners with probables whose chances of winning are dim make last minute decisions not to start. The rule of starting a horse, or not to start, is based on common sense. If the horse merits, truly merits, a chance in the Derby it is worth while to start on the theory that it is better to race and be sorry than stay in the barn and be sorry. But if the horse really .doesnt figure then it is wiser not to. risk "knocking him out" against the best in the nation and try for other and lesser purses. An inferior horse can have his spirit ruined by being asked for the utmost against horses which outclass him. But by not taking this risk, such horses as a rule develop into high class, competitive animals that win more than their share of purses.

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