A Thoroughbred racing quiz to test the ingenuity and add to the knowledge of the $2 bettor and the armchair expert
September 02, 1962

? When was book making introduced in the U.S.?

•Bookmaking was introduced when James E. Kelley of New York opened a winter book on the Belmont Stakes of 1871. Until then, bets were made between individuals, with or without stakeholders and auction pools.

? When was pari-mutuel wagering started?

•The pari-mutuel method of wagering was devised by Pierre Oller in Paris in 1872. Oller had lost money through his inability to make a "line of prices" that would beat the public, so he devised the system of self-regulating odds to insure a profit. Oller used hand-operated tally machines to register wagers. A New Zealander mechanized the pari-mutuel method a few years later, and in 1913 the first electric machine was made. At various times between the discovery of pari-mutuels and 1908, the system was tried at American racetracks, but in each instance the bookmakers forced it out. In 1902 Louisville's Mayor Charles Grainger gained the controlling interest in Churchill Downs. Two days before the running of the 1908 Derby, a reform sheriff of a rival political faction threatened to close the track unless the bookies who operated there illegally were ousted. To save the Derby, the track's manager, Matt Winn, renovated six old '"clickers" and reintroduced pari-mutuel wagering (it had been legalized in Kentucky several years before). The Derby was run without incident and, not long after, pari-mutuels caught on in other states. New York, however, did not legalize this type of betting until 1940.

? a) What is a handicap? b) What is regarded as the greatest feat in handicapping in modern times?

•a) A handicap is a race in which a track official, usually the racing secretary, specifies the weight to be carried by each horse entered. The purpose of handicapping is to give all starters equal opportunity to win: the better the horse, the more weight he is assigned.

b) On June 10, 1944 three horses—Brownie, Bossuet and Wait A Bit—dead-heated for first in the Carter Handicap, run at Aqueduct. The racing secretary, John B. Campbell, had assigned 127 pounds to Bossuet, 118 pounds to Wait A Bit and 115 pounds to Brownie. This is the only time in the history of racing when there was a triple dead heat in a handicap.

? a) What is a claiming race? b) What is the most famous claimer in history?

•a) A claiming race is one in which each owner places a price on his horse at the time of entry. Anyone who has started a horse at the meeting can "claim" (purchase) any of the entrants at the predetermined price. If the claimed horse is injured or killed during the race, the purchaser must still pay for and dispose of the animal. But if the claimed horse earns any money in the race, this is credited to the former owner.

b) The most famous claimer in history is Stymie, the horse Hirsch Jacobs claimed from King Ranch on June 2, 1943 for $1,500. Stymie, then a 2-year-old, went on to win 35 races and $918,485 racing in Mrs. Jacobs' colors. On four occasions he beat King Ranches Triple Crown champion, Assault.

? What horse is the world's leading money winner?

•Round Table won more than any other horse—$1,749,869. He won 43 of his 66 races. Nashua, who was purchased for $1,251,200 at the end of his 3-year-old year, won 22 of his 30 races and $1,288,565. Citation is the only other horse to win over a million dollars. He was the first to do it, and he earned money in all but one of his 45 starts (32 wins, $1,085,760 total earnings).

? Has any stable won more than $1 million in purses in a single year?

•Only two have—Calumet Farm and the C. V. Whitney stable. Calumet won more than a million on six occasions (1947, 1948, 1949, 1952, 1956 and 1957). Whitney topped the million mark in 1960.