Between Races: Centennial, HBPA in Purse Confab Shift in Opinion over Percentages Vegas Debacle Chills New Ventures, Daily Racing Form, 1954-06-07


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BETWEEN RACES By Oscar OtiX HOLLYWOOD PARK, Inglewood, Calif., June- 5. rBoth the immediate and long- range future of Centennial Race Track raciner in mile-hieh Colorado are at stake at a meeting today in Omaha between Ivan Thomas, general manager of Centennial, and the membership of the HBPA. This observer is taking no stand or making any opinion on the ideas advanced by both sides, but we do fool if ic n mire wnr.V v that there apparently has been a shift in thinking in the Par West. For Centennials management wants to make the horsemen full and complete partners an the turf operation with an offer of purses aggregating 45 per cent of the tracks share of pari-mutuel wagering on the first 10 million dollars handled, and 50 per cent on any sums over the 10 million. But the representatives of the horsemen, who flew to Denver from, the Atlantic seaboard, are understood to have asked a guarantee of 0,100 daily in purses, regardless of handle, plus a bonus equivalent to any percentage increase over 32,000 daily average. AAA A spokesman for Centennial remarks: "Under the flat guarantee plus bonus, we are in the position where we cant show a profit under any circumstances. The best we can do is break even, and that is assuming we have a far more successful meeting than last year. If business would slump at all, the track would lose its collective shirt. On a percentage formula we stand some of a change to make a little money, through cutbacks throughout the entire operation other than in the purse department." The position of a minimum guarantee is in direct contrast to the stand taken last year in California, at which -time the horsemen asked for and received a straight percentage deal from every Golden State course excepting Santa Anita and at the Arcadia course, as it turned out, the flat guarantee exceded the percentage formula asked by a considerable margin. AAA This historic meeting in the Rocky Mountain area is being held in Omaha because the bulk of Centennials horsemen are now racing at Ak-Sar-Ben. The Centennial management goes into the sessions feeling Centennial, HBPA in Purse Confab Shift in Opinion Over Percentages Vegas Debacle Chills New Ventures rather strongly that they cpuld not afford to open on the flat guarantee. Denver has never been able to pay a dividend, but has been able to meet interest payments on its bonds, and furthermore, these payments have been possible largely because of revenue accruing to the corporation over and above the racing income. An instance is the lease of part of its property to a drive-in theatre. As we said, this corner is not in a position to judge as to the merits of either side, but it is imperative that a settlement be reached lest racing in the state of Colorado suffer severely. AAA The climate for racing in Colorado is not all sunshine, and the sport needs to present a united front to the public. Ivan Thomas is serving his first season as senior executive at the Centennial plant, and has some definite ideas as to how the sport can be made to prosper through a job of selling to the citizens and to the hundreds of thousands-of tourists who come to Colorado each summer. The Centennial position, epitomized, seems to be that if the track and horsemen are true partners, they both should take the bitter with the sweet, and that if there is no ceiling, then also there should be no floor on purses. AAA The straight percentage deal in California is working out rather well, although what would happen, if the game should take a serious slump is another matter. Fortunately, the racing is strong, patronage is substantial, albeit, in comparison with New York and New Jersey, the per capita is low. But the horsemen are in a unique position of taking the gamble on events right with the track. A case in point occurrred only last Monday when an odds-on favorite, Myrtlemoud, became fractious at the gate and was ordered scratched. There was a refund of more than 40,000 to the public. This refund will be reflected in the inevitable reckoning of purse money, a reckoning which sees current purses based on projected handles, but which is subject to revision, upwards or downwards, the last weeks of the season. AAA But many effects of the percentage agreement have been side issues, so to speak, such as a feeling of participation on the part of the horsemen. Actually, the percentage formula had had a long history, such as in Arizona and New Mexico, where each individual purse is computed according to the amount of money the race handles, and under this method, horses earn in an almost exact ratio to their popularity with the fans as gauged by the tote. AAA The debacle last summer at Las Vegas has had a far greater impact upon Western racing than many people might imagine. For instance, John Allison of Cripple Creek, Colo., tells us that the failure of Vegas has pretty much cooled off a group of people in Colorado Springs who had the idea a short late spring meeting there, preceding Centennial, might have been a worthwhile venture. Caution engendered in investors by the Vegas happenings also has halted plans for a proposed track in southern New Mexico. As for Vegas itself, the place is still in bankruptcy, but something is bound to happen before many more months have passed. One bit of gossip, has it the track could be leased from the master in bankruptcy by any recognized racing Ipnrlpr nr crrnim rm a. rental basis of nns per Cent of the handle. This money would be used to pay off creditors. Meanwhile, with each passing month, the land holdings of the race track continue to slowly but surely increase in value. AAA Horses and people: More than 60,000 people at Hollywood Park on Memorial Day, less than 7,000 at the nearby Coast league ball park. . . . Draw your -own conclusions as to the most popular sport in the West. . . . Jim Stewart, vice-president and general manager of Hollywood Park, established a precedent in mid-week when he flew from Los Angeles to New York to attend a TRA directors meeting. . . . The flight was made while the meeting was in progress and, while he didnt miss any racing days, it was an indication that Stewart is taking his board of directorship in TRA seriously and that Hollywood Park is closely adhering to all TRA standards of ethics. - . . Ray Tansill, formerly with Fasig-Tip-ton Company in New York, has become, an aide to W. W. "Tiny" Naylor in the operation of his showplace thoroughbred farm near Riverside. . . . Tansill will never be forgotten in California as the man who once saddled a "dead" horse as a race winner at Pomona ... Seems the papers had been canceled by The Jockey Club, but nobody out here knew it, including the stewards, and the horse was allowed to start, although, so far as being a thoroughbred was concerned, was deemed officially dead .

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