Chicago in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was second only to New York as a center of both thoroughbred racing and off-track gambling. Its complicated history is one of political influence and class; the business of racing; the cultural and social significance of racing; and the impact widespread opposition to gambling in Illinois had on the sport.
A new book considers these topics and looks at the nexus between horse racing, politics, and syndicate crime, as well as the emergence of neighborhood bookmaking, and the role of the national racing wire in Chicago.
Horse Racing the Chicago Way: Gambling, Politics, and Organized Crime, 1837-1911 (Syracuse University Press, 2022) by Steven A. Riess chronicles the extraordinary rise and fall of thoroughbred racing, the most popular American sport in late nineteenth-century Chicago.
Steven A. Riess is emeritus professor and former Bernard Brommel Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of History at Northeastern Illinois University. He is the author of several books, including The Sport of Kings and the Kings of Crime: Horse Racing, Politics, and Organized Crime in New York, 1865–1913 (2011), runner up for the best book in non-fiction for the Society of Midland Authors.
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