Please Mister: The Golden Age of Greyhound Racing

Charles Blanning

The cover of Please Mister showing two racing greyhounds, one brown and one grey, side by side

“Please, Mister?” In October 1906 Owen Patrick Smith was tasked with organising the National Coursing Meeting at Hot Springs, South Dakota. The programme included the two greatest events of the coursing year in the United States; the Futurity and the Waterloo Cup. Thousands of greyhound enthusiasts had crowded into the little resort town in the shadow of the Black Hills.
“Please, Mister?” an insistent voice continued, as “OP” Smith watched the coursing in the enclosure he had constructed on the edge of town. “Do they have to kill the rabbit?” Smith looked down at the pretty little girl tugging at his coat tails.
“Well, did they have to kill the rabbit?” he asked himself. It took OP Smith fourteen years of many trials, and not a few errors, before he came up with a practical answer to the little girl’s question. False starts in Salt Lake City, Tucson, New Orleans, and Houston would have broken a less determined inventor, but in 1920 Smith opened the first successful oval greyhound racing track in Emeryville, California. Greyhound racing rapidly developed into one of the most popular spectator sports of the twentieth century in the USA, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and many other countries. At London’s first Greyhound Derby final in 1927, an incredible 100,000 people crammed into the White City stadium.
Here is a story with a cast of thousands – dukes and dodgers, generals and gangsters, millionaires and miners, film stars and farm boys. And there are the wonderful greyhound themselves – Mission Boy, Racing Ramp, Entry Badge, and the peerless Mick The Miller. Crammed with hundreds of historic illustrations, this book brings to life the rich and vibrant story of a mass entertainment phenomenon.

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