The End of the Bookmaker, 1952

Mar 21st 2013 08:02 pm |

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A few weeks back I did two articles on Tim Mara and his bookmaking operation. In those articles I claimed that the legislation that made pari-mutuel wagering legal in New York resulted in the end of the race track bookmaker in the 1940s. I made a recent discovery that indicates my oversimplified cause and effect assertion was wrong. While I was right that the end of bookmaking in the U.S. came about due to state action, it seems that it wasn’t just action taken in New York. It seems that the bookmaker had many enemies within governments at all levels that eventually stripped away any semblance of legitimacy to his profession.

The source that provided me with evidence came from a unique place. It came in the form of a cartoon from an issue of the 1952 Turf and Sport Digest. Needless to say, there’s more to the story about the end of the racetrack bookmaker, which is captured succinctly in this single paneled cartoon:

Illustration by Jim Lavery from the Turf and Sport Digest, January 1952

The man behind the cartoon is Jim Lavery who worked for the Turf and Sport Digest for at least three decades. His work can be found in issues from the 1930s into the 1950s. His work covered primarily racing culture and life at the track but he also delved into other sports as well. One of his favorite subjects was the horse player. Here is one published in the same issue as the bookmaking cartoon:

Joe Whozit the horseplayer

I’m sure i’ll have more if these in future posts…

Thanks for reading and good luck!

Filed in thoroughbred racing history



One Response to “The End of the Bookmaker, 1952”

  1. Joseph Martin says:

    Love Colin’s Ghost. Great stuff .
    How about my friend, Tommy Luther?
    I once worked at the old Rancocas Farm. The Helis Stock Farm.
    Love those great horses Helioscope, Sky Clipper and a great Jersey-brd,
    Spartan Valor! Mr Helis was a great sportman. The best.
    Continue with all the great work. I appreciate it!