Spanish Wagering Light: French Writer Gives Interesting Sidelights on Worlds, Daily Racing Form, 1922-10-10


view raw text

t I SPANISH WAGERING LIGHT French Writer Gives Interesting Sidelights on Worlds Richest Racing Prize. Although Spain this year was the scene of the first running of the most richly endowed stake event ever contested, the Spaniards generally have not taken strongly to wagering on races, according to Viator, writing in Le Jockey. The French writer takes occasion to propound his theory of the origin of racing in this article, which is reproduced . below : The prehistoric men who owned the first two horses said to one another: "My horse can run faster than yours." "Well, well see whether he can or not." And that was the real origin of racing and of betting. Conceit, vanity, pride and boasting, which have been the attributes of the human race since earliest times, were the only factors in the spontaneous development of the sport. Some authors notably Jefferson Davis Cohn point out, it is true, with a laudable care for historical accuracy, the precise places where races were held for the first time under the patronage of particular monarchs. But it is obvious that racing must have begun not far from Mount Ararat shortly after the landing of the ark. These early pioneers in racing, whoever they were, no doubt never imagined that there would ever be .a race with a value of half a million in gold. This miracle was realized, how-ere, September 10 at San Sebastian, and realized in Europe where sport held the least attraction of all for the aborigines. PRESENT MARVELOUS AGE. We are living in a remarkable and marvelous age an age when jockeys arrive in Spain from England by the air route and leave after the race, their pockets filled with gold, by the same method and still an age when horse racing still holds its high estate. King Alfonso was a trifle excited when he saw his horse win in a canter the huge prize which bears his name. He had added, the night before, a cup to be presented to the winner, but, conveniently, as it turned out, left it behind absent-mindedly at the palace. That night, of course, he had to offer the trophy to himself under his iiom de course of the Due of Toledo. The morning of the race when I reached the track during the training period I asked a ten-year-old Spanish urchin whose duty was to open the gate to the track for the horses what horse would win the Grand Prix. Without hesitation he replied : "Ru-ban." Nobody else gave me the tip. The " horse, which had been let down in his work before the running of the Spanish St. Leger and which had not been able to stay the mile and a half of that stake because of lack of condition, was quoted on the eve of the race at 100 to 1. SPORTING EDUCATION DEFECTIVE. It would be a great exaggeration to say that this race, which was by so great a margin the most richly endowed, resulted in the most spirited betting. The Castillians, although they are great bettors, do not care much for turf action. And yet the Spanish populations of South America have by their betting made possible the expansion of the turf in that continent. But in the mother country the sporting education of the public has been defective. It was not until the opening of San Sebastian in 191G that a single bookmaker operated in Spain. Then the bookmakers, who were plentiful on the first day, scattered like chaff in the wind when favorites were generally successful in the running of the inaugural program. Those who remained did not expose their ancestral fortunes to any great dangers. Even money on the favorite in a field of ten was a generous offering. The majority of Spaniards know little of the turf, but they have a perfect understanding of mathematical proportion. Odds of 1 to 2 do not attract them at all and the-Anglo-Italian-South African layers who tried to evangelize them for profit had little to show for their trouble. I am speaking of 1917. The following year there was only one layer in Spain. He was a Belgian and had lasted that long because he was a trifle less exacting in his demands than his fellows, but soon even he had no clientele. The pari-mutuel, on the other hand, with a playing public reduced to a minimum, was at the mercy of the solitary bookmaker, who, sacrificing an occasional peseta, made his prices shade those of the machines a trifle in all cases. This year there were two bookmakers. Their receipts have been only moderately satisfactory. All English and French racing of the same caliber would result in ten times the amount of wagering. In an ordinary race on a Spanish card the total wagering would not amount to as much as that handled by a single English boolimaker.

Persistent Link:
Local Identifier: drf1922101001_15_3
Library of Congress Record: