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Crooked Races at Hollywood Park (12)

Crooked Races at Hollywood Park (12)

In 1940, The California State Racing Board announced seven jockeys admitted to accepting bribes for pulling racehorses at four California racetracks including Hollywood Park and Del Mar, except Santa Anita. The state charged sixty races were fixed during the 1939-40 season. Facts surfaced of jockeys attending lavish parties hosted by known gamblers, and the fraud had been in progress since 1938. At the time, no statute in California law existed for prosecution of persons tampering with a horse race by offering bribes to jockeys. Less than six months later, California made it a felony for fixing the result of a sporting event. John Christgau’s 2007 excellent book, The Rambler & the Bug Boy, is an in-depth study of the late 1930s California fixed races and subsequent trial. The author listed articles from the Los Angeles Times and other sources, a few of which are included in this lot. On pages 52 & 53 of Christgau’s book, it was disclosed that the Hollywood Gold Cup run on July 22, 1939, was the only honest race of eight races run that day. The winner of the feature was Charles Howard’s (owner of Seabiscuit) Kayak 2 ridden by George Woolf. The program that day is included with an article stating one of the planned fixes was in the last race where jockey Willis Ward confessed he tried to pull the horse Jargo, as planned, but could not as it won in spite of severe tactics taken to lose. A classic photo of participants Ward, and also of jockey Al Siler who rode Whichcee in the big race, is included. There was a trial in Los Angeles; however, jurors were confused in attempting to unravel instructions and the law. Although the evidence was strong, and jockeys confessed to their crimes, only the outside leader was found guilty. He was guilty of stating he would kill jockeys, and fixing races bilking the public out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. His sentence was just one year in jail and a fine of $1,000. Jockeys were not incarcerated as the jury considered them young men threatened with bodily harm, although they accepted bribes and caused many horses to lose, costing bettors. There was no law then to prosecute those offering bribes to jockeys. This lot includes: 1. Hollywood Park Program for July 22, 1939. The Hollywood Gold Cup was the sole race not fixed that day. The program is in excellent plus or better condition with tight binding and no staples rust. There are pencil notations of the first 4 finishers. Each of the seven other races were named for famous racehorses including: War Admiral, Seabiscuit, Equipoise, Discovery, Twenty Grand, Cavalcade, & Sun Beau. 2. Photographs of two of the jockeys involved in pulling race hoses, namely: Willis Ward, and Al Siler. Siler was one of the top riders, and as a Hollywood Park apprentice, just barely lost the riding title, obviously due to pulling several mounts. 3. Coupon booklet of the Hollywood Part Turf Club for entrance to individual races for the summer meet of 1939, May 30 through Jury 29 with each ticket indicating the day and booklet number (#s 1-21 & 44 used, with #s 22-43 intact. 4. Hollywood Park Grand Stand ticket #1122 for any day, except July 22, 1939. 5. Several pertinent articles: A). To tie-in with July 22, 1939 card, copies of page 52 & 53, B). Race fixing described by jockeys, C). Parties involved in ‘fixing,’ D). ‘Pulled’ horse won anyway, E). Siler names dozen horses he pulled, F). How jockeys received their orders, & G). Sixty races fixed. All items are in excellent plus or better condition.

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Red Pollard's Seabiscuit Saddle
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Red Pollard in his Tragic 1938 Spill
Seabiscuit and Trainer Tom Smith (1937)
Kentucky Derby - Churchill Downs
Seabiscuit v. Ligaroti (1938)
Seabiscuit v. Kayak II (1940)