Frank E. Tours, Jr., a veteran racetrack official who became a columnist for Sports Form, predecessor of GamingToday, in the late 1980’s, has died at the age of 76. At the time of his death he was residing in Ojai, California.
When Chuck DiRocco, founder and publisher of this newspaper, began an advisory service for Las Vegas race books that offered futures betting on the Kentucky Derby, he employed Tours to head the department because of his vast contacts within the industry.
This was before the Internet and information regarding developing two-year-olds into their sophomore seasons was highly treasured.
This made Tours’ expertise so valuable. However, with the advent of the Internet and the wide dissemination of information, the futures advisory service was no longer attractive.
While in Las Vegas, Tours also expanded his passion for writing, offering a column on activities and people within the thoroughbred industry.
In his early years, Tours earned plaudits for his writing when he became affiliated with the late award-winning cinematographer Joe Burnham.
Born in England, the Tours family relocated to California while he was a child. Following his graduation form Beverly Hills High School and California Polytechnic Institute in San Luis Obispo, he followed his love for thoroughbred racing by taking jobs in the operations departments of Santa Anita and Hollywood Park, as well as at Del Mar during the summers.
Eventually he moved into the publicity departments of the California tracks and extended his involvements to Gulfstream Park in Florida, which gave him exposure to a number of racing personalities and officials of the New York Racing Association, which was part of the east circuit.
During the late 1960’s, he moved to Kentucky to become general manager of Latonia Race Course, now Turfway Park. His employers at the time were the prominent jockeys Bill Shoemaker and Bill Harmatz. He followed that assignment with management level positions at Santa Anita and its tenant Oak Tree Racing Association.
Tours later moved to the East Coast where he did work for NYRA while expanding his knowledge of the industry and its participants.
Surviving are his son, Christopher Tours, of Redding, California, two sisters, and a brother.