Cahokia Downs: Meet Turf Official Henderson Van Zandt; Held First Job on Track in Native Texas; Handles Myriad of Duties With Dispatch, Daily Racing Form, 1958-05-07


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Cahokia Downs L By Dick Kumble 4 4Meet Meet Turf Official Henderson Van Zandt Held First Job on Track in Native Texas Handles Myriad of Duties With Dispatch DispatchCAHOKIA CAHOKIA DOWNS East St Louis 111 May 6 Before you accept one mans opinion of a racing sec ¬ retary check and see whether or not that man got the stalls he requested L H Van Zandt 1958 Luther Hender sen Van Zandt is a man with seven syllables in his name He does not come from Amsterdam Holland but calls Fort Worth Texas his home In 1933 during the memorable depression he was a 19yearold youth who earned 25 cents an hour driving bent nails into the doubleboarding of stalls at Arlington Downs in Arl ¬ ington Texas That was his first job on a race track Today he is racing secretary at Cahokia Downs in addition to holding the same posi ¬ tion at James C Ellis Dade Park in Henderson Ky and also serves as steward plus other official capacities at Cranwood in northern Ohio each fall fallHe He is an active 43 is slightly graying at the temples and has clear blue eyes that look directly at whomever he directs his conversation He married the former Dorothy Johr of Detroit whose father the late Otto Jqhr was a noted horse owner and trainer in that area Vaii Zandt is especially proud of his sons Henderson the oldest at 19 is an electrical engineering student at Georgia Tech in Atlanta He graduated from Paschal High School in Fort Worth and transferred to his pres ¬ ent school after spending his freshman year at Texas Christian University The younger Earl is a 17year old southpaw tennis champion His name has graced sports pages for the past few years and his father mentions with pride the many trophies that Earl has already collected collectedAmateur Amateur Champion in Southwest SouthwestTo To be specific Earl who is a likely college net prospect won the singles at the East Texas State tournament and teamed with Tom Howarth to capture the doubles titles at the Austin Invitational Dust Bowl tourney in Lawton Okla and Wichita Falls Invita ¬ tional to cite only a small representation He is now competing in the Texas state high school champion ¬ ships at Austin The youngest Van Zandt heirapparent is Kent just three years old He has not made any headlines as yet but this pedigree is constant At least when Kent begins to reach his father for a weekly al ¬ lowance the expenses of sending one son through Georgia Tech and keeping another active as an ama ¬ teur tennis star should have diminished considerably considerablyVans Vans office at Cahokia is surprisingly right in the center of the hubbub that is commonplace at a race track of this size I like it better this way Everyone that enters a horse gets the same treatment and I operate on a desk that is hidden from nobodys view He is less than two feet from the counter in the office He prefers to use the same condition book that was employed in previous seasons and has never had to write an extra race since this track opened In fact he revealed an amazing statistic in that he has used the exact same book at Dade Park for nine consecutive meetings without an alteration He sent more than 2000 books all over the country and has only one prob ¬ lem with filling stalls too many horses available His telephone rings three or four times an hour with horse ¬ men calling from other areas requesting space for their stock There are 1023 horse accommodations at Ca ¬ hokia and there is nary an empty slot slotThe The small traffic that ships out hardly equals the tremendous demand for space More than 50 per cent of his horses came from winter tracks with a large group shipping here from Sunshine Park Oaklawn and Fair Grounds A few left over when Magnolia Park shuttered down in New Orleans were also vanned in inWorked Worked at Arlington and Alamo Downs DownsVan Van Zandt left his construction job in 1934 to go into the office of Frank Kelley track superintendent at Arlington Downs The track belonged to the late W T Waggoner who also operated the Three Ds Stock Farm Then he was hired by William Shelley racing secretary at Alamo Downs in San Antonio and maintained that position until thoroughbred racing was outlawed in Texas in the spring of 1937 Van traveled to Detroit where he worked for the late Joseph A Murphy at the Fan Grounds which was also the scene of many years of activity on the part of Charles F Henry a noted racing official officialVan Van Zandt held jobs in the mutuels took entries for the racing secretary and was also a placing judge At the age of 24 he became racing secretary at River Downs in Cincinnati He remained in that position until 1946 when he received a telephone call and an excellent offer from Bruno Pagali at the Hipodromo de las Americas in Mexico City He was succeeding the noted Francis Dunne and Fred Parks who both are now with the Greater New York Association His memory recalls the time he left for Mexico City from Beulah Park in the fall of 1956 with a train load of horses 12 cars containing 156 head which had campaigned in Ohio and West Virginia that summer summerHis His colorful decades in racing have also carried him to Steubenville Ohio where Ty Shea preceded him himContinued Continued on fage fortySix I CAHOKIA DOWNS DOWNSBy By DICK KUMBLE Continued from Page Seven SevenFairmount Fairmount Park in this community and ThistleDown and Randall in Cleveland He owned the Concrete Products Manufactur ¬ ing Company in Fort Worth and only re ¬ cently sold his holdings Despite this jam packed history he found time to attend T C U for two years and studied law for three years at Cleveland Marshall College He calls himself a good tool and diemaker but one doubts that he will return to any trade after the enviable reputation he has built in racing The men on his staff here undergo a rigid schedule with the night racing program that is in effect They open the office before beforeveight veight each morning and Van Zandts timesaving tactics have them out by noon so that they can avail themselves of the needed afternoon si ¬ estas which bring them back on the job each evening quite freshened Van Zandt is a worker who performs his tasks to perfection and finds time for everyone around him at the same time He must make better time falling asleep at night than Bolero made 6 furlongs

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