Between Races: Knebelkamps Plans for Season Ahead; To Visit Small as Well as Big Tracks; Downs Non-Profit Status a Live Issue, Daily Racing Form, 1959-05-04


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SIBg wi — 9 Between Races By Oscar Otis Knebelkamps Plans for Season Ahead To Visit Small as Well as Big Tracks Downs Non-Profit Status a Live Issue CHURCHILL DOWNS. Louisville. Ky., May 2,-Wa-then Knebelkamp, president tf Churchill Downs, plans to visit as many sectors of America as he can during the remainder of the year, but much of the summer will be spent in Louisville to, as he puts it, "Learn the brass tacks of tuning a race track." Knebelkamp is sincere in his desire to meet as many people as he can before next Derby time rolls around and people meeting him for the first time will discover that he is a good listener. "I was with Schenley here in Louisville for quite some years," muses Knebelkamp, "and I am proud to say, we have never had a work stoppage in our history. This is not an accident, but rather is the result of finding out what is really on the other fellows mind, laying your cards frankly on the table, and proceeding from there in good faith. But anyone, and especially management, can benefit by knowing people from all segments of racing and from these people, we should get ideas which will benefit us, themselves, and the sport as well. What we are going to do in the way of expansion and improvement during the next 12 months at Churchill, I wouldnt know for much depends upon how much money is available for such capital investment. But I have an idea that maybe a lot of comparatively small improvements could be made at little or no expense, and a lot of little items put together could easily, as a whole, amount to a major improvement." Retain Major Pre-Derby Functions Knebelkamp is pleased that the roster of Derby activities has been pared down slightly during the past week to make it possible for visitors to concentrate more upon the vital functions and not be torn by conflicts. For instance, last Tuesday night trainers party is to remain as is, and the Mayors breakfast at the Pen-dennis Club, inaugurated last year, was so outstanding that it was renewed this season and promises to become an institution. The press dinner was advanced from Friday to Thursday night, thus making it possible for a considerable number of turf writers to attend the Colonels dinner on Friday night without the previous conflict of interest. The day after the Derby, Sunday. Col. Anna Friedman Goldmans barbecue at The Forest, in nearby Anchorage, is unrivalled as "the place to pleasantly re-run the Derby, with the Governor and other notables of Kentucky always leading the list of acceptors. But one change was noticed, and that was the reversal of the trend of the owners cocktail party in the old Colonel Winn apartments atop the business offices of the track. The guest list was sharply reduced this year and the role of this party, always held after the Derby running, will tend toward its original and significant purpose, the true honoring of the winning Derby owner, trainer, and jockey with the toasting with mint juleps. There have been, from time to time, hints and gossip that Churchill Downs may go non-profit, with the profits of the race course being turned over to perhaps the University of Louisville. Churchill officials will comment only obliquely for the record on this one, but will say so much, i. e., that the matter is under serious consideration. The whys and wherefores is a long story, and too involved to go into detail here, but our opinion, for what it is worth, goes something like this: the major stockholders of Churchill Downs, Inc., are men of considerable personal substance, albeit there are many so called small shareholders and the stock is traded over the counter on the Louisville exchange. But the men who have made Churchill Downs what it is today, the home of Americas greatest horse race, are also, when it comes to racing, utter idealists, and it is obvious to this corner that going non-profit might have a point in preserving the Derby, in all of its glory, for all time to come. Of course, the proposition isnt all white or black, there being various shades of gray advantages and disadvantages in any such plan but we predict that if the evidence is strong enough for the non-profit set-up, such an operation will become a reality. Coast-to-Coast Summer Tour To get back to Knebelkamp and his projected itinerary for the upcoming months ahead, he has reached one major decision and that is to visit small tracks as well as big ones. He will be at Belmont in June, and at Hollywood Park in July, the Hollywood Park brass already having extended a formal invitation for him to be their guest for a week in July. But he wants to visit Turf Paradise, perhaps an impossibility until next winter, and he most definitely is going to stop over for a day at La Mesa Park, Raton, New Mexico, while en route either to or from California. "The smaller tracks in America make a far greater contribution to American racing than those who are associated with, or attend, only tracks rated as major," adds Knebelkamp, "yet we at Churchill firmly believe that the Derby is a truly national event, and that being the case, it means as much to the smaller tracks, in ratio, as it does to the big ones." Knebelkamps point is well taken. A couple of seasons ago, for instance, it looked like the Northwest might have its first Derby starter in many years in Sir William, who was good enough to win the Santa Anita Continued on Page Fifty-Nine ! I BETWEEN RACES || By OSCAR OTIS Continued from Page Seven Derby, among other stakes a race in which he defeated Round Table and the Northwest went literally wild. The elation was not dulled until Sir William broke down at Bay Meadows and failed to ship to Kentucky. Surprising as it may be to some, we know of at least half a dozen horses developed in the last few years in Arizona, and one in New Mexico, who blossomed out into thoroughbreds of quality and just missed being of Derby potenial. If those trends continue, we will see a Washington-bred, an Arizona-bred, or even a New Mexico-bred and developed starter in the Derby. We are on unfamiliar ground in places like Nebraska, or even Illinois, where a new thoroughbred production industry is in the making, but we venture a guess much the same premise holds true for those areas, too. And Florida, encouraged by Needles, could become an increasingly important factcr.

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