Between Races, Daily Racing Form, 1950-05-06


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I Between Races By Oscar Otis ■ CHURCHILL DOWNS, Louisville, Ky., May 5. — "Give us a nice day and it wouldnt be surprising if all Derby Day at tendance records were shattered Saturday," remarks Bill Corum, the popular new "Mr. Derby." "We know that most everyone who comes from far off will be at the Derby regardless of the weather, but a lot of folks who live withineasy driving radius of the track figure the weather in their plans." You might be interested to know that Corum is not the least bit reticent about Derby facts. Perhaps it is newspaper training that makes him a stickler for accuracy. Corum informs that, while it wont be possible this year to provide the press with an exact gate count, he is working toward that end in future years, and interested parties will know to the last customer just how many people saw a Derby. "There have been some Derbys at which more than 100,000 saw the race," says Corum. "Actually, the biggest year in attendance was in 1946, when Assault made a runaway race of it. We al-loted tax to the Internal Revenue Department on 94,780 people. That was the paid gate. But there are slightly more than 10,000 people at the Derby every year, who, for one reason or another, are either paid to be here, or are tax free. In this categbry are the musicians in the bands, more than 1,000 soldiers and Kentucky militia men, gate keepers and ticket takers, obviously the horsemen and jockeys, the working press, pari-mutuel clerks, and by far and away the largest single group, the staff of the Harry M. Stevens Catering Company. So we know that some Derbys have topped 100,000 in over-all attendance. It is my hope and guess that, as we continue to rebuild, modernize and in other ways improve Churchill Downs our crowds will increase correspondingly." It might be mentioned that some turf leaders believe the Derby would play host to as many as 250,000 if that many people could be accommodated. In any event, the number of box seat reservations which Churchill Downs has to refuse each year, because of advance sellouts, is a clear indication that the potential Derby crowd is far above the hundred thousand mark. "The track, if fast, will see a 2:03 speed rating:," says Tom Young-, the veteran track superintendent here at the Downs. "For many runnings, we had a 2:04 strip, but I believe this year its a little faster, and any horse who wins the Derby in under 2:03 will be worthy of real mention. As you probably know, we worked some new soil into the cushion this winter, and I believe the course is as fine as it ever has been, perhaps even better; at the same time, it is a true Derby track which has prevailed for every one of the 75 previous ninnies. Contrary to some belief, we did not take topsoil from Douglas Park for Churcill. We got our new topsoil right where we always have, from a point over near the mile chute, Mixed, hi .*. HtUe. b*ak. mb*,. mM«4. humus, and let H mcUow ftra couple i of years. Our compote, pile happens to be at Douglas Park, so we Just move our soil over there, and, when we are ready, move it back and pat it on the track. We have to add new life, to our cusihon about every two years. The resiliency seems, to depart from it after that length of time because Churchill is kept open the year round and gets a lot of use." Exactly 1,173 citizens will be busy tomorrow seeing that Derby Day fans can back their choice in the race with a minimum of inconvenience. E. A. Weidekamp, long time pari-mutuel executive of the Downs, has a crew of that size engaged for the day. In case you are interested, there will be 364 regular sellers, 47 men selling nothing but advance Derby race ducats, and 394 cashiers. One hundred and five men will be needed to work in the money rooms making change ttnd the like. It will take a bankroll of ,500,000 to operate, because, like in any well run race course, fans are paid quickly and money in proper denominations must be on hand at all times. Its a public service to pay in large bills. A 2 mutuel would not need two fives and a pair of ones for the dividend to the customers not 12 ones. The time the clerk would take to count out the money, multiplied by tens of thousands of transactions, would create annoying delays. Incidentally, we have stated before, and will repeat, that Kentucky is one state which plays fair with its public in that it does not void the "out" tickets, or those remaining uncashed at the end of the season. There will not be a live telecast of the Derby, but it will be available for later screening. Bill Corum encountered his first major problem concerning the television, and most everyone agrees that he -came off rather the winner in the argument. Great pressure had been put on Corum to allow a live television show, but he replied politely, but nonetheless emphatically, that "I did not come down here to preside at the death of the Kentucky Derby." Corum informs that Col. Matt J. Winn blamed television on the falling off of the Derby crowd last year, and how much television had to with it is a moot question, but Corum believes he has the right answer. "As soon as it was announced there would be no direct telecast, the last of our reserved tickets in the grandstand were completely sold out within 24 hours," says Corum. No Derby story would be completed without a tribute to the late Colonel Winn, who developed the race from just another spring stakes event with a ,000 added purse to the number one racing attraction of the continent. The Colonel took the traditions of the race, enriched and added to them, to the point where Derby lore is now a part of the American way of life. Breeders everywhere would rather win the Kentucky Derby than any other one race, and some have spent a lifetime and a fortune to do so, without success. It is the only race in the nation which can create a demand for special trains from all sections of the country, including the Pacific Coast, a considerable distance away. The Colonel had a seemingly magical touch in his leadership in Derby.affairs, a touch which created a race once described by the late Irvin S. Cobb as follows: "If I could describe the Derby do that, Id have the larynx of spun silver and the togue of an annotated angel . . .But whats the use. Until you go to Kentucky and with your, own eyes behold the Derby, you aint never been nowheres, or you aint never seen nothing." .

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