A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 18, 2015
“Racing improves the breed”

"Racing improves the breed” is a popular adage of many kinds of racing. “That racing improves the breed of running horses, is not denied” was cited in print in 1835. Throughout the rest of the 19th century, the saying was used almost exclusively in horse racing.

“Just as horse-racing improves the breed of horses, so do automobile races improve the quality and construction of motor cars” was cited in print in 1908. Races involving bicycles and motorcycles have also used the adage.


Google Books
An Address on the Vice of Gambling
By Charles Caldwell
Lexington, KY: J. Clarke & Co., Printers
1835
Pg. 38:
That racing improves the breed of running horses, is not denied. Horses bred expressly and skilfully to any practice or mode of exercise are necessarily improved in it.

Chronicling America
4 August 1838, The True American (New Orleans, LA), pg. 2, col. 4:
The Boston Post says: “Horse racing improves the breed of beasts, and degrades the breed of man.”

Chronicling America
17 April 1863, The Caledonian (St. Johnsbury, VT), pg. 1, col. 7:
Admitting that horse-races improve the breed of horses, it may be a fair question whether they improve the breed of men.

Google Books
The Arab:
The Horse of the Future

By Sir James Penn Boucaut
London: Gay and Bird
1905
Pp. 47-48:
Are not those authorities justified whom I shall quote in my next chapter, and who scoff at the idea that racing improves the breed of horses?

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
19 September 1908, New York (NY) Herald pg. 11, col. 6 ad:
The Stearns
Best STOCK CAR of the World

(...)
JUST AS HORSE-RACING IMPROVES THE BREED OF HORSES,
so do automobile races improve the quality and construction of motor cars.

Google Books
July 1910, Hampton’s Magazine, “The Speed Kings” by Edward Lyell Fox, pg. 66, col. 2:
EFFECT OF AUTOMOBILE RACING
There is a saying that “Automobile racing improves the breed.”

18 June 1911, Denver (CO) Post, “Track Racing Is Doomed” says Barney Oldfield, sec. 3, pg. 5, col. 2:
RACING NOT NECESSARY.
Racing has outlived its usefulness to the industry. No longer can it be said truthfully that racing improves the breed of the motor car.

Google Books
365 Motorcycles You Must Ride
By Dain Gingerelli, Charles Everitt and James Manning Michels
Minneapolis, MN: Motorbooks
2010
Pg. 203:
Why the fascination with racing? Simple: racing improves the breed. Riders looking for reliable streetbikes are best served by looking at those based on successful racing motorcycles.

Google Books
Just Ride:
A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike

By Grant Petersen
New York, NY: Workman Publishing Company, Inc.
2012
Pg. 179:
THERE’S AN OLD CLICHÉ that “racing improves the breed,” and it’s been said about bikes for as long as I can remember, and was old the first time I heard it.

Google Books
Ferrari:
The Road from Maranello

By Dennis Adler
New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing
2015
Pg. ?:
The race was an epoch-making event, which told a wonderful story. It created our cars and the Italian automobile industry and permitted the birth of grand touring cars, which are now sold all over the world, fully justifying the old adage that motor racing improves the breed.”*

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityTransportation • Sunday, January 18, 2015 • Permalink