U.S. Patent 1,410,842, March 28, 1922
Be it known that I, OWEN P. SMITH, a citizen of the United States, residing at the city of Chicago, in the county of Cook and State of Illinois, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Dog-Racing Amusements., of which the following is a specification. The object of my invention is to provide a new and improved race track, where dogs, and other animals may be raced, unencumbered by harness, or other equipment for guiding or driving them, thus permitting them to run free and at their highest speed.
Chicago Tribune, June 11, 1922
With sport lovers bemoaning the long absence of horse racing in Chicago, a new racing sport is to be provided for lovers of speed animals. This is greyhound racing. A big meet of the fastest dogs in the country is being arranged to be held here the forepart of July.
A quarter mile dog track is being constructed at Riverview park on the site of the old motorcycle track, under the direction of Owen P. Smith, who invented the undulating electric propelled rabbit, and there is under way establishment of a dog racing circuit akin that of the horses before the sport departed from Illinois.
Pure bred greyhounds will run over a quarter mile course and are trained to chase the electric rabbits, which are geared to keep ahead of them around the course. ight governs the chase of the greyhound, and the rabbit is given an undulating motion that imparts a realistic appearance. The m,akeup is perfect, as jackrabbit skin covers the mechanical bunny.
Dogs from the best kennels in the country are entered in these meets and are expected to provide the excitement that the ponies of lamented memory supplied.
A series of several races a day will be held through the duration of the meet, and no dog is barred from the competition.
Chicago Tribune, July 1, 1922
Greyhound racing, a new sport for Chicago and for most of the United States, will start tonight at Riverview, with six races on the newly finished quarter mile track. Three hundred dogs, picked from some of the best kennels in this country, will take place in the thirty day meet.
Chicago Tribune, July 3, 1922
A balky electrical rabbit at Riverview park last night caused a riot in which 2,000 persons participated, several free for all fights, three arrests and no dog races. Incidentally at least four of the twenty bookmakers at the park became disgusted and quit.
For several weeks the dog races have been widely advertised. Photographs of “King Jumbo” and Prince Whatnot” and other pedigreed greyhounds have been given wide publicity.
Lured by Rabbit “Decoy.”
The game was to bet on the winning dog. Around the inside of the track is a tiny electric railway, on which was mounted an alleged rabbit. The rabbit always moved about ten feet ahead of the dogs.
The animals were kept in kennels at the end of the track.
At an announced signal the doors would be opened and the race begin. Needless to say, the dogs never caught the rabbit and didn’t know they were fooled.
Bunny Goes on Strike.
Last evening 2,000 people paid admission of 99 cents to see the races. One race was run, to the joy of the bookmakers. Then the rabbit—being a mechanical device and apparently sympathizing with the railway shopmen—went on strike.
The audience was first told the second race would take place at 8:45. At 9 it was announced that the time had been postponed until 9:20. At 9:30 it was again postponed until 9:45. In the meantime the crowd became restless.
At 10 o’clock the audience was told by the announcer that the races would be delayed until the rabbit could be prevailed upon to do his part, and that those who so desired could get their money back at the box office.
The Battle Is On.
Half the audience immediately adjourned to the front entrance. There they were proffered free tickets to a roller coaster next door. They refused and demanded their money. It was refused. The crowd grew insistent, and the noise increased in size.
Policemen appeared and sought to quiet them.
Then some one hit some one else and the fight was on. When the smoke of battle cleared Sol Salk, whose address is unknown, and Henry G. McDaniel and Ray Middleton of 620 North Troy street were under arrest. Several women had fainted. Others had disarranged hair. Claret flowed from several noses and black eyes were numerous. Still no money appeared.
Five hundred members of the crowd then adjourned to the business office of the park. There they received apologies and a proffer of rain checks. In some instances these were accepted. The rest of the crowd remained, demanded their money. Some professed their intention of staying all night; they were still there when this edition went to press.
Thew three men will face charges of disorderly conduct this morning. None of the bookmakers was arrested.
Chicago Tribune, July 9, 1922
AND ALL FOR AN ELECTRIC RABBIT THAT CAN’T BE BEATEN IF HE LANDS IT.
This is Hialeah Bill of Kansas, one of the 500 aristocratic greyhounds participating in the thirty-day racing meet at Riverview park. Eight dogs at a time chase the rabbit, which limps along at ninety miles an hour during the six races each evening. The Chicago Derby takes place July 16 and the Riverview Stake a week later. Mrs. O. P. Smith is Bill’s owner.
San Francisco Examiner, July 26, 1922.
NEW YORK, July 25.—Out in Chicago the warm sports are all heated up about dog racing.
If you listen to the sometimes querulous comments of our friends, Messrs. E. Curley and W. Grafton Farnsworth, you may infer that dog racing is by no means new.
You may gather from that that dogs have frequently raced at Belmont Park, Aqueduct, and are even now racing at Empire City, but we are talking about a different breed of dogs.
We are talking about greyhounds, sometimes called the “Irish ponies.” Greyhound racing is quite a game. We got Jasper to it out out in Chicago, where a new track has just been opened.
There have been tracks at East St. Louis, Oakland, Cal., Tulsa, Okla., and Miami, Fla., and some New York promoters have been looking the thing over with a view to installing a track here next year.
The dog racing as it is now conducted is nothing like the old game of coursing as pursued at Tanforan and Ingleside out in San Francisco an at other places before the humane authorities stepped in and put the crusher on it.
In coursing live rabbits were used and the winners were determined by a point system.In the new game it is a real race, closely following the rules of horse racing and conducted over a circular dirt track a quarter of a mile around and a miniature race course in every detail.
And The chief feature of the track and, in fact, the thing on which the game is founded is founded, is the rabbit or, rather the method of operating the rabbit, which is the invention of Owen P. Smith, originally of Chicago, but of late years in Oakland, where he installed his first track.
A stuffed rabbit is used and it is run around the track on a sort of cable slot. The motive power is electricity, and the stuffed rabbit can be put up to a speed of ninety-five miles an hour, a man operating it from a little tower, from which he overlooks the track.
GREYHOUNDS, skinny, long-legged dogs, with an amazing burst of speed, pursue entirely bu sight, not by scent.
They were used for coursing as far back as the days of Queen Elizabeth, who had the Duke of York write the first book for coursing. They have always been popular in the West, where the coyotes and rabbits have given them an opportunity to exert their speed.
We never considered greyhound particularly intelligent until we watched the racing dogs at Chicago the other night and saw them jockey for positions and run their races with the judgement of human beings.’
THERE are six races each night at the tract, which is located at Riverview Park, a Chicago amusement resort similar to Coney Island.
The purses run all the way from $60 up to the $500 offered for the Chicago Derby, which was run Sunday. The derby distance was three-eighths a mile. A special free-for-all race has been set for next Sunday, with a purse of $1,000.
We had a talk with O. P. Smith, the inventor of the track, and he says the chief obstacle to the game just at present is the lack of dogs. There are about 200 at Chicago just at present, and as the sport expands the breed is being increased, but right now there are not enough to supply the demand.
A HIGH-CLASS racing dog is worth anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000. You probably couldn’t buy Mission Boy, the Man o’War of the game, for any amount in reason just now.
There is a dog named Step Ahead in Chicago, a red and white dog by Step To It, out of Lady Crawford, according to our racing program, owner C. W. Wilson, colors blue, that is said to be the best dog in the world over the hurdles, but not so good on the flat.
We saw Step Ahead win a jumping race, although it seemed to us that High Cost, a speedy looking brindle by Jim Cannon out of Hazel Dawn, had a chance to win until he fell on his nose going over a hurdle.
Out in the paddock where the dogs are displayed before the race nearly 200 bookmakers were operating. Eddie Slattery, famed as “Slats,” escorted us out there to look the boys over and some of the most famous citizens of Chicago’s Loop were on hand.
The betting was entirely oral, but some one told us that as high as $20,000 may depend on a race. Step Ahead was 6 to 5 to win the jump and got a strong play. He did the quarter in 29 2/5 seconds. The record for the quarter over the flat is said to be 25 1/5, the sharp turns cutting down the speed of the dogs.
The Riverview track was not drawing well, but in Oklahoma and East St. Louis the dog racing is going big.
It seems to be a matter of educating the folks up to it. The impression frequently prevails that the thing is a sort of a show, lacking the element of real competition, but you get over that after you see the dogs run once.
Chicago Tribune, May 28, 1923
There’s no need to go to Louisville for racing thrills. Out at Riverview park Chicago has a Kentucky Derby of its own, which reopened last night for the summer season. The steeds are grey hounds, but every requisite of the southern Derby is there—bettors, bookmakers, brass bands, and milling mobs of shouting men and excited women, intent ion watching half a dozen dogs chase a wooden rabbit as it electrically operates its way around the track, always just out of reach.
At the various games of chance throughout the park there are signs giving warning that no one under 16 can play, but the age limit apparently didn’t extend last night to the quarter mile track.
Only Oral Bets, But——
Of course it is officially announced that “it’s all oral betting” and that none except members of the Riverview Kennel club can bet.
But just before a race every one congregated at the south end of the grandstand. Four bookmakers with big sheets lined up and read off the odds for each dog.
“Ten bucks on Magpie to win,” announced a baby sheik whose fuzzless chin hinted of his youth.
“Forty to ten against Magpie,” droned the bookie to his assistant, the odds being 4:1. “What’s your badge number?”
“Ain’t got any,” answered the youngster.
“Well, gimme a name or something to put down for your bet; you don’t have to have a badge.”
“Jackson,” answered the boy.
“Forty to ten. Magpie. Jackson,” answered the bookie.
Nearly a Thrill.
Just then some one grabbed the sheet out of the bettor’s hands.
Every one in the crowd jumped.
“Jiggers, the cops!” said some one.
“Hell, no, just a drunk; place your bet, boys,” said the bookie.
The dogs were paraded around the track by their keepers. The rabbit started its mechanical journey. A signal, and the greyhounds were released for the three-eighths mile dash. Magpie was close to the 1 to 2 favorite, Racing Ramp, but suddenly two dogs pocketed the 4 to 1 chance and Racing Ramp romped in winner while the band blared and every one yelled—just like Kentucky.
Bookies Pay Odd Bets.
The crowd rushed under the grandstand. Lined up with great rolls of bills—some hundreds. Bets totaling $500 each were paid off with the mathematical precision of a boy prodigy in college, but most of them ranged around $50. When the paying was finished, the bookies still had great rolls of greenbacks.
A middle aged man, apparently more of a dog fancier than a thrill seeker, walked in.
“Where’s my $5?” he shouted. “I bet $5 with a man out there on Armingle, dog No.2, and I couldn’t see any such dog in the race?”
“I guess not,” snickered some one. ” Arminle was scratched!”
As the bettor walked out, his eye caught a sign on a nearby attraction which read: “Goats.”
About 2,500 kennel club membership badges were given away, but only one in ten at the race seemed to have them.
Chicago Tribune, June 10, 1923
Eighteen persons were taken into custody when police, for the second time, raided the dog races at Riverview park last night. Lieut. Charles McGurn and Detective Sergeants John Connerton, Ignatius Trandt and Albert Schuetze, from Chief Collins’ office, were scattered among the crowds and as soon as the electric rabbit started out and the “bookies” began taking names and began collaring all bookmakers and men suspected of being their agents. No money was seized, as since the first raid, the “bookies” merely have been noting the bets and making all cash transferences at the close of the racing.
Suburban Economist, June 29, 1926
More than 250 lanky greyhounds, moist of them imported dogs, are quartered at the grounds of the Illinois Kennel club, awaiting the opening of the season’s racing Saturday evening. These dogs represent a dozen of the largest stables of racing dogs in the country, but some of them are “singletons” being the only dog owned and raced by an owner.
According to George Parton, secretary of the Tampa Kennel club of Florida, the greyhound racing sport is due to be immensely popular with Chicago race fans.
“More than 10,000 turned out for our feature programs every weekend at Tampa, and a near capacity crowd came out every evening. We packed in nearly 15,000 for the Tampa derby, and would have had more if we could have accommodated them. The dogs run truer to form than the horses, and the handicappers can pick the winners more accurately than they can in the horse races.”
A syndicate of Chicago and Chicago Heights business men are backing the Illinois Kennel club for this meeting. A. L. Schneider, president of the Cadillac Dealers association of the Chicago district is treasurer of the Kennel club and J. H. Ellis, secretary of the Cadillac dealers, is president. Prominent south side business men are on the board of the Kennel club.
The five-sixteenths mile track is built inside the auto speedway of the Thornton track, just across Halsted st. from the new Washington Park race course in Homewood. Seven races will be held every evening except Sunday, starting July 3. The meeting is scheduled to last 31 days.
LEFT: Chicago Tribune, May 6, 1927
RIGHT: Chicago Tribune, May 27, 1927
LEFT: Chicago Tribune, May 21, 1927
RIGHT: Chicago Tribune, June 4, 1927
Daily Herald, August 3, 1928
The second annual summer meeting of the Fairview Kennel Club at Lawrence avenue and Mannheim rd. was opened Wednesday night with a record breaking crowd in attendance to watch their favorite greyhounds dash across the finish line in first place.
If the crowd in attendance is any barometer for the balance of the season, it looks as if the second year’s existence of this club is going to be an exceptionally profitable one, as the grandstand was well filled and the paddock jammed with race enthusiasts both young and old.
With Glen Belchner presiding judge, J. W. Rice, racing secretary, Joseph Burke, associate judge, Leo Hartwell, timer, R. A. Hayes, paddock judge and J. Shannon Scale, clerk, our local racing fans are insured good clean races, and fair treatment given to all.
The management announces for the first few days there will be 8 races run daily rain or shine. Within a very few days, however, they will add one more race to their daily meet, which will give the fans a real racing card each day.
Chicago Tribune, July 16, 1929
Possibility iof a special grand jury investigation of the three dog tracks in Cook county was seen yesterday in a conference between First Assistant State’s Attorney John E. Northrup and Chief Investigator Pat Roche. The tracks are now operating under new temporary injunctions issued by Judge Harry Fisher of the Circuit court.
“A special grand jury should be called to investigate the dog tracks.” said Investigator Roche. “I have gathered much information about the dog tracks and I think a grand jury should look into the connections of certain politicians with the gangsters, who are reputed to own the tracks.”
Prosecutor Northrup refused to discuss the possibility of a special grand jury.
The Hawthorne track is reported to be backed by tyhe interests if Al Capone, the Fairview track by the George (Bugs) Moran interests, and the Thornton track by the Chicago Heights group.
An effort was made yesterday by attorneys representing the dog track operators to secure the return of two machine guns seized by Investigator Roche in his raids last Tuesday night. The guns were found at the Hawthorne track. Roche said he would not return the guns.
Chicago Tribune, May 11, 1930
While a number of lawyers were arguing the merits of dog racing before two Superior court judges yesterday, one phase of the dispute had already been settled by the Illinois Supreme court. The high court’s opinion, copies of which reached Chicago during the day, holds that the horse racing act of 1927, under which pari-mutuel betting is authorized, does not permit dog racing and similar wagering.
Justice Frederick R. De Young, delivering the opinion of the court, said:
The title of the horse racing act of 1927 does not purport to include or relate to any other kind, form or method of racing. Section 15 of the act providing that ‘nothing herein shall in any way be construed to apply to any other method or manner of racing except the racing of rorses as herein set forth.’
Justice De Young’s Conclusion.
By the limitation of the title of the act to horse racing, and by the express provisions in the body of the act, that it should not be construed to apply to any other method or manner of racing, the act affords no basis for the assertion of the right to conduct dog races.
The decision was made in the Hawthorne Kennel club case. After making the above ruling, Justice De Young sent the case back to the Appellate court, ruling that the latter court had jurisdiction to determine whether Judge Harry Fisher had ruled properly in enjoining the state’s attorney and the police from interfering with operation of the track. It is this case, now pending, upon which the fate of dog racing in this district rests.
Argue Over New Tracks.
The hearing in Chicago yesterday before Judges William J. Lindsay and Ribert E. Gentzel, who sat en banc in Judge Lindsay’s courtroom, was characterized by an air of light hearted informality. There were witty remarks from the judges and snappy comebacks from the attorneys. A large audience was on hand. A decision will be announced next Tuesday, the judhes said.
“The dogs are running in Chicago,” said Attorney Cecil C. Erickson in opening the hearing. “They have been running for years and I venture to predict that they will be running for years. It is un-American to allow the Hawthorne and Thornton tracks to be open and bar my clients from opening tracks at the Chicago Stadium and White City.”
Judges Ask Some Questions.
Judges Lindsay and Gentzel, before whom petitions had been seeking injunctions restraining the state’s attorney and police from raiding the two proposed new tracks, considered this statement and then began asking a series of questions concerning the backers of the two ventures. The assertion had already been made that Al Capone controls the Hawthorn and Thornton tracks.
“I will be frank with your honors,” responded Attorney Erickson. “Thomas J. Duggan1 of Montreal is promoting the Stadium track and James A. Egan of Boston is the principal man behind the White City track. Ralph A. Heller , insurance man; William A. Hutley and Jules Hickman are officials of the White City Track company, and Robert E. Holly, south real estate man, is president of the corporation which has leased the Stadium.
Not a Police Record.
“All these men are men if respectability and standing. Not one has a police record anywhere in the United States.”
“How about Canada?” Judge Gentzel inquired.
“Not as far as I know,” replied the lawyer.
“They’re not what is known as racketeers?’ the judge persisted.
“And I’d like to ask if they have any silent partners,” interjected First Assistant State’s Attorney John E. Northrup.
“Absolutely no,” said Attorney Erickson, somewhat indignantly, to both questions.
“If Judge Fisher had known all the facts concerning the dog races which the public knows now he would have issued that injunction against raiding the Hawthorne and Thornton tracks two years ago,” declared Prosecutor Northrup. “If he had known who owned the tracks and how they were run he wouldn’t have hesitated a moment in denying the petition.”
“But the state’s attorney has never in the meanwhile gone before Judge Fisher and asked that the injunction be dissolved in the light of all this information?” inquired Judge Lindsay.
“No,” said the prosecutor.
Attorney Erickson handed up a written lease showing that his clients had agreed to pay $5,000 nightly rental to the Stadium corporation if the races are run. Judge Gentzel pointed out that if the Appellate court, which has the Hawthorne dog race injunction case before it now, decides that betting on dog races is illegal the lease will be automatically void and the lesses will not be forced to continue to pay the rent.
“I want to read the law on betting as regards horse racing,” said Prosecutor Nothrup and proceeded to do so.
Northrup Explains Horse Racing.
“If you bet on a horse which comes in first, second or third, you win,” explained Mr. Northrup, after he finished his recitation. “But if your horse comes in fourth or worse, you lose.”
Judge Gentzel and Judge Lindsay shook hands.
“If your construction of the law is correct,” said Judge Lindsay to Northrup, “then the legislature had no business sanctioning or authorizing betting on horses.”
“Horse racing is presumed to promote agriculture,” said the prosecutor.
“And betting on the horses is presumed to promote what—the breeding of cattle?” inquired Judge Gentzel.
Duggan a Hockey Backer
Thomas J. Duggan, backer of the proposed track at the Stadium, was revealed in dispatches from Pittsburg yesterday as half owner of the New York American hockey team and part owner of the Mount Royal race track in Montreal, which is his home.
Duggan has operated a dog track at Pittsburg where Al Capone is reported to have leased two parks for dog racing this year. Capone owns the International Dog Racing Association which sells memberships at $2,500 each with the agreement that 2 per cent of the receipts must be turned over the association. Duggan was pictured as a “high class sportsman and square shooter.”
Chicago Tribune, June 8, 1933
Greyhounds chased the electric rabbit around the Lawndale track, 26th street and Kostner avenue last night to revive dog racing in the city after an absence of three years. But there was no joy among several hundred spectators because the betting cages were dark.
The dogs went to the post in ten races under protection of an order issued earlier in the day by Superior Judge William J. Lindsay, which restrained the sheriff, state’s attorney and police from interfering with the racing. The betting windows were closed because the judge deleted from his restraining order all references to pari-mutuel betting.
40 Police are Present.
Forty policemen in plain clothes under the command of Supervising Captain John Stege, were present ready to make arrests if bets were accepted. The policemen came prepared to pay the 40 cents admission charge advertised at the gates, but the management let everybody in free, declaring the performance merely an exhibition of racing.
The police detail was ordered by Commissioner Allman after Mayor Kelly had declared that he would stop dog racing in the city if it is legally possible to do so. Mayor Kelly made the statement shortly after the restraining order had been entered.
Sponsors of the dog tracks considered the injunction a doubtful victory because the betting is not protected. The injunction was secured by the Chicago Greyhound Racing association, which is seeking to operate the Lawndale track, and the Thornton Coursing club, which has been operating the Thornton track at 175th and Halsted streets.
Thornton Track Operates.
The Thornton track, which opened May 1, continued to operate last night, although Assistant State’s Attorney O. P. Lightfoot announced in court he would have dog tracks raided if betting is carried on. The Thornton track is outside of the city limits and comes under the jurisdiction of the sheriff and state’s attorney’s office.
Attorney Daniel M. Healy of the law firm of Litsinger, Healy & Reid.
1 Thomas Duggan, after his attempt failed to get dog racing at the Chicago Stadium, focused on promoting the sport in New York. However, he unexpectedly died on July 23, 1930.