SI Vault
July 20, 1959
Hot Tip
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July 20, 1959

Events & Discoveries

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Hot Tip

To The horseplayer whose constant lament after losing a race is "There must be some way to beat the nags," we offer the following tip which, by past performance, should be a sure winner. Our information comes not from the horse's mouth, or even from the form sheet, but from the stock quotations. The tip: put your money on the race track, not on the horses.

Race track stockholders are cleaning up, even if the bettors are not. Happily, over-the-counter racing issues fit every purse, ranging from $2.50 a share for Sunshine Park to $65,000 for a share of Santa Anita, the most expensive stock in the country, which originally sold at $5,000 per and now pays a $5,000-a-year dividend. The man who bought $100 worth of Roosevelt Raceway in the early 1940s now has holdings worth almost $24,000. Yonkers Raceway, which sold at $16 about a year ago, is now at $35.

Just as enticing, perhaps, is one of the extra dividends passed along by most of the tracks to their stockholders: free season passes. Of course, owning stock in a race track won't quell the urge to bet, but at least the stock owner has the satisfaction of knowing, when he tears up his losing ticket, that he is putting money back into his own pocket. Well, a percentage of it anyway. So don't tell us you can't make money on the ponies.

Bulls in the Living Room

Riding the crest of an electronic wave that is already breaking on the beaches of golf and baseball, an ABC network vice-president recently announced plans to bring video-taped bullfights into U.S. living rooms.

The V.P. in question is Sterling Quinlan of Chicago's WBKB-TV, who got the notion when a Mexican colleague, Emilio Azcarraga, who televises an enormously popular bullfight program weekly over Telesistema, told him that Mexicans believe American sports are as brutal as most Americans consider bullfighting to be. Quinlan decided to televise a bullfight largely as a matter of promoting international understanding. He argues that television has a duty to show aspects of the world beyond the horizon of the everyday life of the viewers. Bullfighting, he says, is too much a part of the ancient cultural and sporting traditions of the Latin-American world to be ignored. Advance mutterings indicate there is going to be a terrific protest from humane society groups, but Quinlan is prepared for them. "I don't feel that television is a hothouse plant in the communications garden," he says.

All of which certainly deserves the plaudits of the U.S. televiewer. There is, however, one aspect of the plan which Promoter Quinlan seems to have overlooked, i.e., the quality of the bullfights. Using tapes of three separate Mexico City events of last spring, the first televised bullfight in this country is to present three figures of somewhat less than major league caliber: Carlos Arruza, Alfonzo Ramirez and Juanito Silvti. With all due respect to the Senators and Red Sox, this is a little like trying to show Spaniards the thrill of baseball by treating them to a re-run of some last-year pitching duel between Russ Kemmerer and Willard Nixon.

It so happens that in Spain at present a great event of modern bullring history is coming to a climax. The corrida's two greatest exponents, Antonio Ordonez and his brother-in-law, Luis Miguel Dominguin, are meeting in a hand-to-hand series which has led critics to declare a new golden age of bullfighting has begun at last. These two great performers have previously been separated by a family feud (Ordonez thought the Dominguin family had snubbed him) and met for the first time in a spectacular corrida at Zaragoza, followed by a triumph at Barcelona that ended when both were carried by cheering aficionados out the main entrance of the bull ring, through traffic-filled streets to their hotels. They have displayed such mastery that run-of-the-mill matadors are stunned, and oldtimers say the great days of Juan Belmonte and Joselito are returning. It isn't necessary to endorse Ernest Hemingway's views of the mystique of bullfighting to believe that their forthcoming meetings—about a dozen are to take place this season—might be of interest outside Spain. In any event, the focus of attention would be on the quality of the sport at its highest. If we're going to have bulls running loose in our living rooms, let's—for heaven's sake—have competent toreros to fight them.

Alias Joe McBride

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