Dec. 1949: TRA maintains night racing ban

“Racing executives from the thirty-five tracks that make up the Thoroughbred Racing Associations opened their annual meeting at the Hotel Plaza yesterday. They heard an optimistic report from the T. R. A. president, Donald P. Ross of Delaware Park, reaffirmed their stand against night horse racing, elected a new director, saw a movie about the Kentucky Derby and then adjourned for cocktails.

Tonight the two-day meeting will have as its climax a dinner at which Vice President Alben W. Barkley is to be the chief speaker. The vice president is to receive a gold pass to the T. R. A. tracks.

A review of the T. R. A.’s six-teen point “code of standards” touched off the discussion of night racing. In the code, adopted in 1947, is the statement: “There shall be no racing between sunset and sunrise.” It was the unanimous decision (twenty-five tracks had voting members present) to keep that statement in the code and to stress the T. R. A.’s opposition to racing under lights.

Those speaking on the subject included President Ross, who earlier had reiterated the organization’s opposition to off-course betting; Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt of Pimlico and Laurel, James E. Dooley of Narragansett Park, Joseph Gottstein of Longacres, Amory L. Haskell of Monmouth Park, J. J. Isaacson of Ak-Sar-Ben, Maj. Gen. Milton A. Reckord of Havre de Grace, Lou Smith of Rockingham Park and John C. Pappas of Suffolk Downs.

“Night racing would cause a boom in the sport for three or four years,” said Ross, “but then it would result in the downfall of racing.”

The speakers agreed that night racing would cheapen the business, lead to excessive betting, particularly by those lease able to afford it, cause some leading owners to quit racing and draw opposition from other sports and amusement groups.

“In a short time,” said Empire City’s James Butler, “the reform element would be back in full swing.” (James Roach / The New York Times, 12/01/1949)

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