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Empty Gold Mines By SALVATOR No hand-book of turf proverbs or max- p ims has ever been compiled worthy of the " name, so far as I am aware. Now and then a colyumnist" sorts out a few and ties g them into a bunch with an obbligato of his j own culture — but a real collection, cover- j 5 ing the field in any at-all-comprehensive way, has never been attempted. ti This is to be regretted, but will probably j p never be remedied. For, if the job were i " well done it would provide many pithy jeux , tl desprit, quips, quirks, and quodlibets. j d Along with which there also would be listed ■ tl a host of aphorisms in which the wisdom j d of three centuries and more as concen-1 li trated upon the high-mettled racer and his ! background has boiled itself down into the j 1 ultimate multum-in-parvo. s» The pedigrees of many of the proverbs tl of the turf are as interesting — if not more P so — than the events or the conditions that j • have inspired them, but most of them, like t! those of the founding fathers of the breed A of race horses, cannot now be traced. Now t and then the name of the man or woman ■ from whose lips it first fell is attached to li one. But not often. Like the well-known witticisms of famous men, which for the j i it most part have been fathered upon them V by unknown scribes, they have come from nowhere": have, as it were, crystallized out a of the blue — and beyond that may be 1 0 claimed by any and everybody setting up j ■ to do so. Among those which were coined , tl well within my recollection, however, is b that universally -valid admonition which j s tells us: |tl "Every good racehorse has just so many , -r good races in him: and when they have! been taken out it is useless to ask him for more.* ■ c Race Horse Like Gold Mine ! n This adage, which is one of the truest i t of them all. always links up in my mind ; with the well-worn comparison of a good — j I e or great — race horse to a gold mine. It is a j d comparison which is often literally cor- j rect — and not only when the horse is turn- | I * ing up the gold by the hundreds of thou- t sands of dollars but when, all the good ■ races in him having been taken out he be- ■ comes not only figuratively but actually an empty gold mine. * a a There is. in 99 cases out of 100, a double ■ tragedy when this occurs. In the first r place, the steed himself from an asset has e become a liability. In the second place, his v owner, trainer or manager as a rule can- a not or will not comprehend what has hap- ! j 1 b pened and keeps right on trying to take more gold out of the empty mine when JJ none remains there. t , s Successful Comebacks Are Few s These observations, of course, do not , refer to those horses which are eliminated j | r from the headlines in ways so obvious that 1 j it is apparent to the most deluded owner ■ that their futures lie behind them, but to v those which, in a thousand different ways, ■ seem to be capable of somehow, sometime. e somewise, "staging a comeback." As we all know, in a very small percent- J age of cases, comebacks of that kind HAVE been staged. And for these really » rare and wonderful exceptions, thousands of others have to make what in advance s are foredoomed failures — which may be t tautological but may be allowed as em- i phasis. s In the case of such a race horse, he is $ entitled to our sincerest sympathy. But in t the case of the man, or men. who is deter- j mined to take more good races out of him i when the gold mine has been exhausted, 1 any sympathy that may unthinkingly be 1 1 extended to him is a pure waste of emotional surplus. 1 It may be said that these refusals to 1 face the facts are in no sense blameworthy, s p " g 5 ti p " tl d tl d li 1 s» tl P • t! A t ■ li i it V a 0 ■ tl b s |tl -r ■ c ! n i t ; j I e j d j | I * t ■ ■ a a ■ r e v a ! j 1 b t JJ s s , j | r 1 j ■ v ■ e perfectly natural and, as a matter of verity, defensible on the ground that about once in a thousand times the hoped-for miracle does actually occur — the empty gold mine yields still another nugget. Stake Nomination Fees Squandered Every list of stake nominations is featured by the names of horses whose proprietors, just because in the past they have "delivered the goods," propose to make them do it again, whether or no. The pay-dirt used to be there; and it will be again, they argue, if this, that or the other condition or combination of them, can just be hit upon. The statement will, I think, not be challenged, that millions of dollars have been squandered upon those empty gold mines in the way of training bills, campaigning expenses and entrance fees, which from any sane point of view were a bigger gamble than any 100 to 1 chance ever constituted. And that the ratio of return realized upon them was as meager as the salvage of salable goods from a fireworks factory that has gone up in smoke. But. does that fact — and most assuredly is a fact — in any way affect the practice? Well— hardly ! In the first place, the average owner Is an optimist. Otherwise he wouldnt be an owner. To his hopeful heart the empty gold mine is still an Aztec treasure house; and the realization that Noble Hero is a has-been fails to register as utterly as if he stood this minute with him once again in the winning enclosure. Trainer Has Nothing to Lose In the second place, the average trainer knows that the average owner likes en-I couragement, and that nothing sounds more pleasantly in his ears than assurances that Noble Heros temporary t ? I ailments have yielded to treatment, that his is an exceptional case, that he is as sound as the day he was foaled and just rearin to go. Over and above which, didnt he. the trainer, bring back Thunder Bug to win three of the big handicaps after every vet that looked at him pronounced him hopelessly broken down? Over and above which — again — is it not w-k fact that training a cripple, a has-been or a happy memory, may be even more profitable to a trainer than if he were even disgustingly sound? Little extras, which in gross can be built up to very tidy amounts, just naturally accompany the process. And can a trainer be expected to be fussing over such things all the while without being well paid for it? Or collecting his percentage from the varied and sundry experts and practitioners whose services are necessary? Thus it goes right along. The empty gold mine long ago became one of the established institutions of the turf, despite the yawning vacancy which he impersonates, in the words of the collect, is now, always has been and always shall be, world without end.