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Program and Badges from the Most Crooked Racetrack in America (5)

Program and Badges from the Most Crooked Racetrack in America (5)

Guttenberg, a late 19th century racing venue, by all reports, was the worst place for crooked racing in the United States. The thoroughbred track was located in New Jersey, very close to New York City and became a regular feature of leading newspapers for describing abhorrent racing practices. The New York Times on December 21, 1891, wrote the horses were pulled according to the gamblers in the betting ring and racegoers were regularly cheated day after day. The Washington Post on April 16, 1891, described and named the men who controlled the racing there. One was a former member of the Jesse James gang, another murdered a prize fighter, and one was arrested for swindling. Another ran a house of ill-fame, a former jockey was ruled off at Saratoga for pulling horses and another jockey ruled off at Monmouth for admitting he ran horses to work out, not win. The NYT also stated on January 11, 1892, the track had all the politicians in league with them with most of the county officers stockholders in the venture. The newspaper further wrote on January 18 of that year it would be impossible to secure indictments as they boasted the Grand Jury was on their side. A few weeks earlier, on December 28, 1891, the newspaper wrote it was natural the owners of "the Gut" would reach into NY state and purchase Saratoga, which they did. That track also witnessed questionable racing until the management was finally replaced. The Board of Control in early 1892 ruled that no owner, horse, or jockey could participate at BOC racetracks if they raced at Guttenberg. The "Big Four," as the leaders of Guttenberg were known, eventually pleaded guilty to keeping a disorderly house and were sentenced to jail terms and fines. A few days later the Court of Pardons met in secret, deciding to reverse the prison term by a vote of 6-2 and the "Big Four" went free. Offered are the following items from this notorious racetrack: Program for the first day, Thursday, November 20, 1890, of the Hudson County Jockey Club's track. It does have writing, only in the name of horse column listing the first three finishers by number, crossing out scratches. Small tears at the seams. Admission passes: 1888 owner and trainer badge; 1888 Autumn badge; 1889 Spring Meeting badge; 1889 Stableman's pass for the Spring meeting.

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