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It is Doc Milhe who supplies managerial genius and, perhaps more important, the oil for troubled waters. Because she usually wants things her way?right now?Debbie had little difficulty, when she first took over, in alienating the easygoing Mexicans. Swank Jockey Club members found her blue jeans an insult. The Racing Commission declared she was trying to usurp their prerogatives. The Horsemen's Association said she refused to entertain their proposals. The union leaders discovered her going over their heads, taking her problems directly to her 662 employes. In each case, Doc stepped in quietly and explained the facts of life to Debbie and the facts of Debbie to her antagonists.
HURRAY FOR EVERYBODY
With the new-enterprise jitters now over, Debbie is entering her third season steadied down and barely remembering her brash past. She has a high regard for the labor leaders, a healthy respect for the Racing Commission. As for the horse owners, she says blandly, "Why, I love to have their suggestions. I need them. I've been an owner, too, you know."
Nevertheless, Debbie has problems. The Mexican Government has a protect-the-poor-people type of anti-gambling tradition. Though her franchise runs until 1968, Debbie knows it exists only at the pleasure of President Ruiz Cortines, a puritanical type aptly described by one of his senators as "a man who is against everything a little bit." If it becomes politically expedient the track might be closed down overnight.
On the other side is the stimulation it gives to Mexican horse breeding. In 1943 there were no Mexican-bred thoroughbreds. Now there are 100 colts a year and Mexican-bred horses are beginning to win races in the U.S. This impresses the government, but even more so does the track's potential as a U.S. tourist attraction. Good honest horse racing is an extra and valuable asset which no government would be foolish enough to shut down except for a major scandal.
Debbie has taken out the best scandal insurance she can buy. She installed a $30,000 movie patrol and every race is recorded on film from start to finish. She put up a $15,000 test barn where every winner is subjected to telltale urine tests for tampering. She sees to it that the stewards, some of whom used to wander in for lunch and leave after racing started, are on duty and monitoring every race.
It would be wrong to say that Debbie Everitt has overcome all the suspicions with which she was viewed when she first took over El Hipodromo; she is still the target of many detractors. But whatever her enemies may say of her, not one of them denies she is a horsewoman. When the first of her two daughters (ages seven-and-a-half and six) was about to be born, she was in blue jeans around the barns as usual. As she passed, her stableboy hinted to a visiting Texan that Debbie was going to have a baby and was promptly bet 500 pesos it was nonsense. The next morning Deborah II arrived, and three days later Deborah I was back in the paddock.
When somebody observed that this was indeed remarkable, a nonplussed detractor snorted, "Huh. That Debbie. She just ain't human. She didn't have a child. She foaled."