The Post World War II Years
Part 2 and Part 3

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One notable exception . . .

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My sincere thanks to The History of Thoroughbred Racing in America 
by William Robertson
for permission to excerpt this article that we may re-live the moment.

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. . . to the general trend was manifested in New York, 
where the surplus money quickly was evaporated when, at the request of Mayor William O'Dwyer, an additional tax of 5 percent was imposed on pair-mutual wagering
 to provide revenue to city and county governments. The municipal government of Saratoga followed suit and -- although the O'Dwyer Bite, 
as it was known, later was gradually rechanneled into the state coffers -- it has not been removed nor is there any indication that such action is contemplated. 
As early as July of the first year it was in effect, the state tax commission reported a drop in revenue; it became more drastic as the season progressed,
 and toward the end of October the racing commission announced that wagering 
was down nearly $129-million and attendance off 705,792
from comparable figures of the previous year -- a sharp contrast to 
reports from other areas.

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How much of the business decline in New York was due to the Bite 
could not be determined precisely, since competition arose in the form of two glamorous new tracks which opened that year in New Jersey, Atlantic City and Monmouth Park, the latter track reviving some of the stakes events that had been run at the original Monmouth. (Saratoga, New York's vacation track, was hardest hit by the decline; daily average wagering at the upstate oval was less than half what it had been in 1945.)

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Numerous changes took place in racing 
during the years that followed World War II,
but there was  no significant alteration in the basic structure of the sport, 
such changes as there were having been essentially modifications 
within the existing framework.

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The commercial aspect, which had been accentuated over the years, 
became yet more pronounced as racing expanded.
 It was no longer just a sport.

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The business approach was apparent on the track, too, as horses were regarded as investments rather than as implements of a hobby. One noticeable effect was in the attitude toward weight. Objections to high weight assignments were nothing new, but as purses grew larger and larger the few pounds that could mean the difference between victory and defeat assumed greater importance.

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The owner whose interest was strictly sporting -- 
who would seek out the putative champion at all costs and challenge him,
 or, if he happened to own the champion himself, would accept whatever poundage was assigned just to find out how good the horse really was -- still was around, 
but he was losing ground. Rich purses were available
in such profusion that it was easy for the owner of a logical challenger to give the champion a wide berth, and for the owner of the champion to shop about for suitable weights. At some tracks some weight ceilings were put into effect. 
This practice came in for considerable criticism -- and it also inspired spirited defense. 
Is it sporting, really, to arrange a contest so that an inferior runner under a feathery load is enabled to defeat a champion handicapped by a heavy burden?

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The rapid increase in the scope of racing 
was not without its more serious problems. A rash of ringer cases were detected in 1946,
 as the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau
swung into high gear in its first full season of operation, but within a few years tight controls and improved procedures for identifying horses
eliminated this problem.

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Stimulation continued to be a sore spot, not only in cases of willful skulduggery, but more often through innocent mistakes, accidents and misunderstanding. The "suspension" of Tom Smith, leading money-winning trainer of 1945, became a cause celebre . . . . .

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Part 3