Negotiations seem to be complete for the owners of Yonkers Raceway to purchase a controlling interest in Roosevelt Raceway. All that remains is for the New York State Harness Racing Commission to approve the deal. We believe it is a bad deal and that the commission should refuse to approve it.
Roosevelt and Yonkers are the two largest trotting tracks in the country. Between them, they control racing in the sport's most important and prosperous market from late March to late November. This market was monopolized once before; when it was revealed in 1953 that a single group owned both tracks, a state commission ordered the monopoly dissolved because it was clearly detrimental to the public interest.
More than a year ago, the State Investigation Commission disclosed a long list of irregularities in connection with capital improvements at the Yonkers track that were partially financed with state money. The SIC's findings were forwarded to State Attorney General Louis Lefkowitz for possible prosecutions, and the state legislature was sufficiently upset to repeal the law committing state funds for capital construction at trotting tracks.
Under the circumstances, it is ridiculous that there should be serious consideration of allowing the Yonkers management to purchase control of another track. Yonkers should be obliged to clear itself of the SIC's charges as a condition of keeping its own license. Finally, any sophisticated observer of the New York racing scene knows that there are strong political forces involved in the projected deal—strong enough to force its approval by the harness commission. The final decision, therefore, will be made by Governor Nelson Rockefeller. We hope that even if his racing commission says yes, the Governor will say no.
BET $50, LIVE LONGER
When asked their secret of longevity, octogenarians are apt to mention raisins and carrots or bourbon and cigars. Mrs. Mabel Shaw, who has just celebrated her 81st birthday at Hollywood Park race track, has another system: she believes that betting on the horses is the elixir of youth. "It keeps me feeling good and keeps my mind working," she says. "It's like going to school."
Mrs. Shaw has attended every racing session at Hollywood Park since it opened on June 10, 1938 except for two days in 1954 when she was ill. (She sent a friend to the track with her bets on that occasion and hit a $40 winner.) She also has not missed a day of harness racing in Los Angeles and occasionally visits Santa Anita and Del Mar.
"I don't believe in systems or tips," Mrs. Shaw says. She is her own handicapper. "I'm very tired when I get home from the track in the evening, but I stay home at night and figure out my bets for the next day. Sometimes I stay up until midnight just working away." And how does she do. Like most horseplayers, Mrs. Shaw is coy. "I just got home a few minutes ago," she told a reporter the other day. "I bet eight races and had six winners. I made $700 or $800 one day last week, but then I might go back the next day and lose it all. If you go to the track to make money, you might as well stay home."
On a recent Thursday Mrs. Shaw put $50 and $100 (she never bets a mere $2) on horses ridden by Willie Shoemaker, her favorite jockey and lost both bets. Is she annoyed with Willie? Not at all. "Two days later," she says, "Willie rode four winners and I had them all. Willie is the cutest little doll I ever saw. His clothes are always fitted just so and his hair is neat. He always looks perfect."