Between Races: Future Role of Derby Appraised by Corum Additional Prestige Sought for Classic Television Factors Under Careful Study Introduction of Pari-Mutuels Recalled, Daily Racing Form, 1951-05-05


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BETWEEN RACES * «c« ore CHURCHILL DOWNS, Louisville, Ky., May 4. — It would seem without question that the Kentucky Derby has come to exemplify all that is fine in thoroughbred racing to the nation at large. Its traditions and ideals have come to mean much to racing throughout the United States, especially cially to to the the rank rank and and file file of of citizenry citizenry cially to to the the rank rank and and file file of of citizenry citizenry who are not racing fans or who know little about the sport. This is all to the good, of course, and those responsible for the Derby, including the horsemen who put on the show, and the jockeys who ride, live up to the responsibility inherent in Derby competition. However, Bill Corum and his associates at Churchill Downs are confident that the ultimate has not been reached, and that in future years, the Derby will become an even more important factor in winning friends and influencing people for the sport everywhere. Toward that end, Corum has been endeavoring to have the "best people" attend and thus lend their prestige to the Derby in particular and to racing as a whole. It was a mere combination of circumstance that prevented Winston Churchill from attending, a crisis arising in England that made a scheduled trip inadvisable at this time. However, Churchill did phone to say that he was keenly disappointed in not being able to see the Kentucky Derby, a hope he has cherished for some time. All this may, in turn, lead to a state of affairs which prevails most everywhere in the world, i. e., where the heads of government are actively identified with the sport either as owners or as honored and avid spectators. AAA Another approach the "Run for the Roses" will make towards becoming" an event that will accomplish much is through television, but the Derbys relationship to this new medium of public relations is not as yet determined. Future Role of Derby Appraised by Corum Additional Prestige Sought for Classic Television Factors Under Careful Study Introduction of Pari-Mutuels Recalled There will be no live telecast of the Derby this year, but Bill Corum admits that in the near future there will be, at least once, and perhaps forever after, if the television showing works out as expected. It is doubtful, however, if there will be any live televising of the Derby until the event can go national, which would mean after the completion of a coaxial cable to the West Coast. This cable now extends as far as Omaha. "We are looking quite closely into the possibilities of phone vision, and also closed circuit televising to theatres," explains Corum. "The ideal, I suppose, for the Derby would be to make it possible for everyone in the United States to see the race on a screen, and while I am convinced this would cut down on our attendance, the construction of a new stand toward the quarter-pole would pretty much solve our crowd problem at the track. Under this idea, most everyone at the track would get a clear vision of the running of the entire race, and the countless millions who always have wanted to see a Derby, but who could not leave their home cities and states, could enjoy the Derby running and the colorful pageantry that surrounds it." AAA The greatness of the Downs classic is dependent upon Derby Week crowds, and it is therefore obvious the race could not continue on its present magnificent scale if television were to at once take away its crowds and in turn give nothing in recompense. However, this problem is not unsolvable, and no doubt will be worked out in the not too distant future. And we dare say there will always be tens of thousands of citizens who will want to enjoy the race in person regardless of how much technical excellence television attains. In the meantime, Corum has been spending considerable time in developing a facet of the Derby which has been somewhat neglected. To many leading families in Louisville, Lexington, and other nearby communities, Derby Week is homecoming week, much on the order of Christmas, when members of the family, no matter how far scattered throughout the country, try to get home for a reunion. To further this idea, and make the Derby the focal point of such interest, Corum has been on an extended speaking tour of the smaller communities. He has aroused a deal of Derby interest in what might be termed Churchills own front yard. AAA Horses and People: Russell Sweeney, resident manager of Churchill, advises that demand for boxes was unprecedented this year and that checks totalling well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars were returned simply because the place has been sold out since mid-February. There is no accurate count of Derby reservation requests simply because no tally is kept of phone calls. This is proof enough that the lure of the Derby is growing more powerful every year . . . The board of stewards, headed by Sam McMeekin, will call the Derby jockeys into a huddle before the race and remind them that the eyes of the nation are upon them, and to ride hard, but cleanly. The warning isnt really necessary, we suppose, for the Derby draws the elite of reinsmen. But just in case, if some lad becomes forgetful in his desire to win, the stewards are empowered by the Kentucky State Racing Commission to hand out severe penalties for rule infractions, penalties which could range up to suspensions for a year . The Kentucky Derby is a great breeders race, a fact which usually stirs up considerable excitement on the farms, for the prestige accruing to a Continued on Page Thirty-Seven BETWEEN RACES By OSCAR OTIS , , - Continued from Page Sixty-Four farm which has bred a Derby winner, lives on. Kentucky, which has produced 62 Derby winners, again has a predominance of starters this year, although Virginia this year has more than a fighting chance with Repetoire. Reigh Count is the only Virginia-bred ever to win the Derby and was a sad day in the Old Dominion State when Hill Prince was beaten last year. AAA With wagering brisk all over the country, there is some sort of a chance of a new "tote" record. E. A. Weidekamp, director of pari-mutuels, is enlarging his crew to 1,197. Last year was only a few dollars shy of the Derby Day record of ,636,403, established in 1947, and this might have been topped had there been more clerks, and, of course, a place to put them. Weidekamp recalls that in 1908, the year he joined the Downs staff and also the year that pari-mutuels were introduced in competition with the books, that there were only three machines in use, a win, place, and show. Yet those three machines handled 7,560, which was enough to convince Churchill executives that in pari-mutuels lay the way toward eventual widespread popularity . . No Derby starter has ever injured himself in the post parade after leaving the paddock and had to be withdrawn from the race . The Derby clings to its emphasis upon the winner, for of the 00,000 added money, the second horse gets 0,-000, third ,000, and fourth ,500. Most tracks offering 00,000 raoes split the melon up to make starting more attractive, such as 0,000 to second, 0,000 to third, and ,000 to fourth. The classic example of this came in the Santa Anita Handicap of Noors year when Calumet failed to win, but picked up 5,000 for the afternoon by seeing its three-horse entry run second, third and fourth. it e • in

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