Reflections: See How They Run an Old Turf Theme Corny Tale of Racketeers and Fixed Races Mankiewicz-Kling Put Racing on Trial Silly Debate on Author Meets Critics, Daily Racing Form, 1951-06-28


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REFLECTIONS *y NELS0N wnstan NEW YORK, N. Y., June 27.— A fellow named Don M. Mankiewicz wrote a book entitled, "See How They Run," and when it was published a few months ago we were sent three copies by friends in racing. We read it, and did not like it, so made no mention of it in this column. Joseph M. M. Roebling, Roebling, the the New New Jersey Jersey breeder, breeder, M. M. Roebling, Roebling, the the New New Jersey Jersey breeder, breeder, did not like it either and he wrote us to say so. It was a tale, the blurb said, of a jockey named Nick Bragg, who tried to beat Artie Dooley at his own game, and that was "the dangerous game of racketeers and fixed races." Mankiewicz is a good writer, for he has a style and a skill given to few men. To prove that he goes to the races, there is a cover photograph showing him with a pipe in his mouth as he is watching a horse leave the paddock. He looks like a nice guy, but he is a little off the beam when, on the flyleaf, he said, "I wrote a novel with a racing background because it seemed to me — still does — that this is a pretty neglected field. Racing is the worlds largest industry and I am prepared to document that statement on request." Why he should have to document such a statement, we fail to understand. Most people know that racing is one of the worlds largest industries. Certainly he should know that the conditions he portrays would not be tolerated in racing and his characters, Sam Gleason, Nick Bragg, Artie Dooley and all the rest of ;hem would be run off the tracks and told never to return. AAA When Mankiewicz said, "I wrote a novel with a racing background because it seemed to me that this is a pretty neglected field," he was partly right. But it would probably come as something of a shock to him that his novel, See How They Run an Old Turf Theme Corny Tale of Racketeers and Fixed Races. Mankiewicz-Kling Put Racing on Trial Silly Debate on Author Meets Critics or rather the theme of it, was first used "after the "running rein" scandal at Epsom in 1844. Following that episode, a large number of novels were written about "fixed" races until about 1884 when they passed out, for people simply became sick and tired of reading the guff. Now comes "See How They Run," which is about as original as an assembly line product. New themes in horse racing are hard for a novelist to find, for the field has been so thoroughly explored that a writer today must have a very vivid imagination to concoct an original plot. Mankiewicz has talent, but not very much imagination. Probably he did not know that his plot had been used for one hundred years. His book was fast dying and recently he or his publishers pulled a neat trick in having it reviewed in the television show, "Author Meets the Critics," one of the most entertaining programs on the air today. Like racing, publishing is big business and if a book does not sell, then get someone to plug it on the air. AAA When the panel of "Author Meets the Critics" gave "See How They Run" their attention recently, Mankiewicz was on hand to defend the book, and our old friend, Ken Kling, was there as the critic. We were traveling at the time, so missed the broadcast. But immediately following it, letters came from readers, and three clippings of Fred Rayfields column, "TV or Not TV," which appears in the New York Daily Compass, were sent us. Rayfield, one of the most interesting television writers in the country, reviewed the debate between Mankiewicz and Kling completely. Mankiewicz had nine rounds and Kling one. You have to credit Kling with one round for, as Rayfield says, "While I didnt immediately run out to the track *;he following day, my curiosity had been aroused to the point where I am ready to take a plunge any day now on a bet — strictly to appease my scientific curiosity, of course." Perhaps Kling should be given another round, for when Mankiewicz talked of "fixed races," Kling answered, "This is hoke stuff. There is no such thing as fixed races." Such things live only in the minds of novelists and it is only the fact that so many fans are writing us that we are giving attention to this book of sheer nonsense. It is about the corniest piece of hokum ever handed the reading public at per copy. AAA The book itself is not important, nor would a mere review have been on television. But, the debate before "Author Meets the Critics" becomes serious, as it is heard and seen by thousands of people. Instead of reviewing the book, the program made a public trial of racing with the author posing as an expert on the subject. In his review, Rayfield said, "Mankiewicz, a subdued, pipe-smoking individual, merely lay back and puffed away at his pipe, letting Mr. Kling do most of the talking and, before long, Kling had hanged himself with his own testimony, goaded on by a couple of sharp, sarcastic comments from the authors corner." The old subject of "qualifying" came into the discussion. Rayfield went on to say, "It turned out that Mr. Klings definition of fixed Continued on Page Thirty-Nine REFLECTIONS By NELSON DUNSTAN Continued from Page Forty-Eight races did not include those in which a number of horses were not trying to win. " Kling seemingly offered some very weak arguments and when he was driven to the wall stated, "Why dont you tell the nice things of racing. Why dont you tell of what they do for charity." That was just about the worst thing Kling could have said to justify racing for the people of the sport have never trumpeted what racing did for charity or during the war. If anything, it played down the fact that it contributed more than all other sports put together. Then Kling added that he knew Teddy Atkinson and Eddie Arearo and that he has had them in his home and they are all wonderful fellows. AAA When Kling had finished, Mankiewicz said, "That was the most unqualified piece of boloney I ever heard?" If he would read his own book he would have one of the most unqualified pieces of boloney ever written. Instead of being so polite, Kling should have challenged this author right then and there to name one race that he could say was positively "fixed." This writer has been around the race tracks longer than either the author or the critic and we could not state positively that we ever knew of a race that was pre-arranged, although it developed in Maryland some years ago that there had been one. Racing is not perfect, but it does have the proper authorities to deal with people who prey upon it. For any man to take the air and talk of "fixed races" simply because he copied the idea of people before him, and then pose as an expert on the sport is the height of something or other. Horse racing is the cleanest sport in the world today and the most honestly conducted sport. In England it attracts 200,000 people to an Epsom Derby, and in France 100,000 to the Grand Prix de Paris. In this country it is a magnet for 100,000 at the Kentucky Derby. It contributes close to 00,000,000 annually to the states in which it is legalized. It draws the finest people of every nation and now along comes a guy who wrote a book — and a very poor one — who goes on the air to point out something that may happen once in ten thousand races. Play your horses, Mankiewicz and stop your silly squawking.

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