California: Caliente Handicap Promotion Rated Tops; Offers Luxury Racing to Common Man; Kentucky Derby Party Record Breaker, Daily Racing Form, 1958-05-14


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California By Oscar Otis Caliente Handicap Promotion Rated Tops Offers Luxury Racing to Common Man Kentucky Derby Party Record Breaker BreakerHOLLYOOD HOLLYOOD PARK Inglewood Calif May 13 Sundays promotion of the 50000 Calumet Handicap must be ranked as one of the greatest ever seen in the West even though the day was marred by scattered showers an occurrence almost unprecedented in this area at this time of the year First there was the ques ¬ tion of weight on Round Ta ¬ ble 126 pounds a figure which led to fat columns of comment in the daily press from Seattle to Phoenix with some sports writ ¬ ers viewing with alarm and with others springing to the de ¬ fense of the whole Caliente con ¬ cept with equal vigor Even the fact that Caliente suspended its usually free and easy policy with passes for the day added to the conflagration of controversy Publicity wise the race was worth every cent the man ¬ agement expended upon it both in the purse itself and the incidental promotional work which was con ¬ siderable For one thing it drew a lot of people to the race track for the first time timeMore More than half the seating accommodations at Caliente slightly more than 8000 are of the table terrace dining facility and the average citizen can live it up at the races in a manner that only turf clubbers can enjoy at most other tracks in the world Vast areas of the grandstand are open to table terrace fans on a first come first served basis There is a tremendous utilization of art work by the manage ¬ ment and it is traditional that whenever a construc ¬ tion crew creates anything new in the way of an addi ¬ tion or an enlargement to an existing public area the artists follow the carpenters and tile setters settersAccent Accent on Beauteous Surroundings SurroundingsCaliente Caliente has a world famous muralist and painter on its staff the year round on a contract basis and no plans are approved without the artist participating in the blueprints A few years back Caliente even went to the expense of painting free of charge farm houses on the bulging hills which provide the immediate back ¬ drop of the track so that these farm houses would blend into the Caliente atmosphere and not afford an eyesore to an otherwise harmonious and beautiful motif motifPromotion Promotion wise Johnny Alessio executive director of the racetrack has become at once the wonder and awe of West Coast racing He has a flair or shall we say affinity for race track operation and is not averse to spending freely to build up towards the goal he is striving for While it must be remembered that anjr business must have a sound and solvent business oper ation racing is in many respects like the breeding of thoroughbreds a spendthrift enterprise remarks Alessio AlessioHere Here we spend money to make money and I think the results show in our progress over the last few years Purses have been doubled and on many Sundays our attendance has been so gratifying that we already are long range planning major expansions so that we can accommodate our patrons of the future We take our ideas from everywhere arid anywhere and if you want an example you need go no further than the 50000 Caliente Handicap It started from a remark in your column and Nelson Fisher turf editor of the San Diego Union picked up the ball from there and turned your abstract observation into a concrete suggestion and we took it from there So you might say that this was a race the newspaper men created createdChurchill Churchill Setting South of the Border BorderThe The merit of a bona fide promotion theres noth ¬ ing of the circus about Caliente which is essentially a class operation was clearly demonstrated only a week ago Saturday That you may recall was Kentucky Derby Day Alessio has been plugging away for three years at his Derby Day party at the track with a pro ¬ gram of races of course and calls it the biggest Derby party in the world outside of Louisville He decorated with front of the club replicas of the Churchill Downs spires gave away Harry M Stevens Derby mint julep glasses as souvenirs and put on a traditional southern style dinner late in the afternoon They ran the Derby with full parimutuel betting facilities and the payoff coinciding with those at Churchill regardless of how the odds fell at Caliente and it all added up to an all time record crowd for a Saturday SaturdayThe The track made preparations for 9000 Exactly 14143 turned up Ken Bojens the good will man for the track remarked we sensed that radio coverage for the race wouldnt suffice any more so we put up TV sets all over the place but we used the radio call of Bryan Fields for the sound It worked out better they tell me than the regular TV cast of picture and sound as a unit We were out of julep glasses by three in the afternoon and we served more than ten thou ¬ sand chicken dinners on the house And it was just as much a holiday crowd as it was at Churchill Downs itself Im pretty sure everybody had a wonderful afternoon afternoonCaliente Caliente races under the rules of the California Horse Racing Board and is California 100 percent except for the payment of the 10 pjer cent breeders CALIFORNIA CALIFORNIABy By OSCAR OTIS Continued from Page Six Sixawards awards But in the last few years Cali ente seems to have taken the initiative away from California in the way of pro ¬ tection of horsemen first with the screens then with its post race detention area as new for instance in Kentucky Now Caliente doesnt claim that these measures are infallible but at least the track is doing SOMETHING to stamp out the so called stimulation problem The iron clad security system inaugurated in the Holly ¬ wood Park backstretch is old stuff here although there are certain aspects of the Hollypark system which are worthy of further comment and will be dealt with a bit later as soon as the system irons itself out outIn In summary some writers in the West have proclaimed the 50000 Caliente Handicap was a symbol that the Mexican border track hasvcome or is coming back to the time it was one of the most impor ¬ tant on this hemisphere certainly the most important winter track north of the equator when the Belmonts the Whit ¬ neys the Coes and the Willis Sharpe Kil ¬ mers raced here But knowing Alessio the Cap was not a symbol of a return to any ¬ thing but rather a landmark of a big new era in racing in the Far West which will see Caliente stand on its own feet as a major track in its own right with its year round operation

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