New England Notebook: Rockingham Strip is Among Best Silva Responsible for Maintenance Stresses Safety in Place of Speed, Daily Racing Form, 1954-06-07


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j New England Notebook By JOE HIRSCH ! Rockingham Strip Is Among Best Silva Responsible for Maintenance Stresses Safety in Place of Speed ROCKINGHAM PARK, Salem, N. H., June 5. Rockinghams Ante Bellum charm makes an afternoon of sport here a pleas- tion for many New Engenders. Horsemen, too, enjoy the surroundings but also derive great pleasure from the strip itself, which is considered among the best in the East. There is a fine cushion, excellent drainage and the track does not cup out. Re- spunsiuie J.ur maintenance of the strip and track grounds is Tony Silva, who has been at Rockingham since it opened, and who is recovering from a prostate operation that had hospitalized him for 25 days last month. Tony remembers the disastrous four-day meeting they had here in 1931 and the board track that was set down about that time for automobile racing. It was only in 1933, with the passage by the state of New Hampshire of a bill permitting pari-mutuel betting that Tony could work in earnest at the job he was hired to do by H. D. "Jim" Monroe, first racing secretary of Rockingham Park. Silva had handled road construction and knew how to grade a strip, but was unfamiliar with the skills of keeping a track in topflight condition. Monroe outlined the necessary steps and Tony caught on quickly. When the old Aga-wam course near Springfield was built in 1935, Tony was called on to construct the strip and when a resurfacing job was needed oh the old half-mile oval in Houston, Texas several years ago Tony got the call again. He and his large crew are meticulous in their preparation of the Rockingham strip. The track owns three farms in the Salem area from which is drawn the rich dirt for "-the racing area. Tony plants winter rye and ploughs it into the soil to add substance. The soil is then carted to the track, and run through a power screener- to remove the rocks and pebbles which raise hob with horses tender feet. The track has a three-inch cushion and Tony proudly took us over the strip yesterday to demonstrate that it was as soft and thick as a Waldorf-Astoria rug. It ought to be, for Tony estimates that the expense of installing and maintaining the cushion runs pretty close to a yard. Which, incidentally, is a 40 per cent sand and 60 per cent loam mixture. To maintain the strip in top condition Tony has a variety of equipment including a pair of adjustable California harrows and several steel harrows and floats, that he designed himself. His pride and joy is a light job made of aluminum that can be carried easily by two men and is used for combing the area close to the rail. Silva stresses safety. He believes, and rightly so, that it is better to sacrifice a second or two of speed to the benefit of the many hundreds of horses stabled on the grounds. One of the newer "bug" boys on the New England circuit is Thomas Lattarulo, who hails from Cincinnati. The youngster broke his maiden aboard Jerry M. at Suffolk Downs a week ago winning a good race after remaining off the pace in capable fashion. Lattarulos father, who died several years ago, was also a jockey and Tommy naturally gravitated to the turf. He began a riding career at Churchill Downs in 1952 and has rode since in Chicago, New Orleans and Hot Springs, Ark. Learning to handle yourself and your horse in the gate is the toughest task for young riders, according to Lattarulo. The Ohio reinsman, who works for Frank Shaw, is considering a career on the turf when his riding days are over. His book is handled by Sam Cannizaro. Around the Track: No one in the jockeys room seems to like the new scales that print your weight on a slip of paper. Since the reading glass and the paper punch are on the far side of the scale, two persons are needed to get one weight . . . Jim Slavin Continued on Page Fifteen H New. England Notebook By JOE HIRSCH Continued from Page Five dropped by to tattoo 35 horses for the TRPB. Hes headed for Randall Park . . . Sam -Tufano is shipping Wise Margin to Chicago for the summer season and Mike Freeman has indicated that he may do likewise with Parnassus, but only to fill an engagement . . . W. "Bill" Resseguets Dynastic suffered a broken pelvis recently and had to be destroyed . . . Harold Sconza, the Lowell, Mass., jockey who was riding in Chicago for Babe Wells, reported in for the remainder of the New England season. His book is being handled by Virgil Sebastian Inatosca.

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