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Old 05-31-2009, 07:42 PM   #1
strapper
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Racetrack Characters

I'd like to start a post here to hear about the true racetrack characters you've met along the way in your forays playing the ponies. Many of the more colorful ones are gone I'm sure. I don't see the new breed of horseplayers as Runyonesque but I could be proved wrong if you guys come up with some doozies.
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Old 05-31-2009, 07:57 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by strapper
I'd like to start a post here to hear about the true racetrack characters you've met along the way in your forays playing the ponies. Many of the more colorful ones are gone I'm sure. I don't see the new breed of horseplayers as Runyonesque but I could be proved wrong if you guys come up with some doozies.

there was this guy I used to see at the Meadowlands during the harness meets.
He had the filthiest mouth on the planet. I swear to God this guy lost every bet he ever made because after every race he'd swear like he just smashed himself on the foot with a farrier's anvil.
He was a smallish guy that no matter what the season dressed in brown. He had tape on the nose piece of his black rimmed eyeglasses which he wore slightly down his nose.
He wore black shoes and strutted about with quick choppy strides. Never saw him take a drink. He did look like he may have been a stock holder in Maxwell House due to the ever present cup of steaming coffee in his hand. Even in summer.
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Old 05-31-2009, 07:59 PM   #3
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Golden Gate Fields Simulcast

Dentally Challenged Dave:

This fellow, looking like a surfer after too many wipeouts, funded his investments at the hippodrome by poaching cans and bottles from the setouts on Berkeley's recycling days.

I worked for the Ecology Center and once, while driving the pickup to collect missed setouts, I "ran into" DCD. I radioed headquarters and asked, "Am I allowed to run him over ?"

Neck Brace On, alias Howie Lookin:

This fellow had the original idea to wear a neckbrace to run a Disability scam. His custom was to face away from the monitors during a race, constantly nagging his partner, Stormin' Norman, alias Stormer, "How we lookin' ?"

Moron this later.
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Old 05-31-2009, 08:05 PM   #4
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I had a friend named Sam that I saw every day at Philly Park. He was a veteran of Iwo Jima, had a lot of health problems, but started the day with a couple of cold Sam Adams at the bar and then usually left around the 6th race, taking with him the program for the next day so he could handicap at home. His program was so marked up you could tell he spent hours on it. He was pretty good at sniffing out winners, too. Even though he was up there in age he would mow a neighbor's lawn during the warmer months, and he was the friendliest sonofagun you'll ever meet. He was a widower, and talked about his wife a lot. One day he didn't show up at the races, and we all got worried. We didn't have his phone number or anything, but after about a week we figured the worst had probably happened, since there was no way he'd stay away from the track that long. Yup, he had died, and to this day I really miss him.

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Old 05-31-2009, 08:07 PM   #5
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I'm standing in line one day on the main floor of the Santa Anita
grandstand... and I've got a hot one. He's at 19-1 or so. We'll call
him the *six horse*.

So, I'm feeling my usual nervousness. I'm 4th guy in line, there's
about 2 minutes to post... I'm thinking "hope they hurry up, don't
want to get shut out"

All of a sudden, this guy starts saying in a voice to be heard at
least 50 yards away (he's standing in the line one over, right next to
me) "I'm the biggest loser that ever lived" I've lost my last 38 bets
in a row...............

Over and over and over, he repeats his "loser refrain." I'm sort of
chuckling to myself. What a character, I'm thinking..

And then he blurts out, "I love the six horse". Gulp..
Suddenly, the guys not so funny anymore.....

He looks at me with interest, don't know quite what he's looking at,
and says, "Who do you like Buddy?"

Well, I say shyly, "I like the six" He shoots back faster than a
gunfighter, "You're dead"

God is testing my resolve. If I recall, things weren't going so well
for me at that time.

He asks me if I'm going to change my bet. "No". Then he says, without
missing a beat, "You look smarter than you are"

Anyway, that good thing came right on in....Never saw that guy before
that day, never saw him after..
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Old 05-31-2009, 08:38 PM   #6
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On the 3rd floor at Aqueduct there is a trackside restaurant and anyone who has ever been there knows there is a jamaican fellow who frequents that area looking for tips or owners and trainers to tell him that their horse is live. Last year we had one in on a rainy day in February I went thru the glass doors on my way down the escalator to the paddock two feet behind me was this gentleman. As I got to the top of the paddock stairs where the IDs are checked this guy asks me how do you look trainer, I told him I'm not the trainer but we look ok. He said thank you and I figured I was done with him. On my way back to the 3rd floor he stops me again and tells me he is out of money and could I place a $20 win bet on my horse for him. I said ok. Well we won at 4-1 and right after the race was official the guy comes up to me and hands me my $20 back plus his program with the 9 horse circled in the last race. The horse was 20-1 morning line and he told me that the trainer told him he "can't lose". I played the horse with some of my winnings. At post time he was 23-1. He wins the race and pays $48 and the exacta of 9-6 pays $260. We don't race much in NY anymore but I have to admit that 9 out of 10 times I would just ignore a stranger who asks me to bet my money for them but for whatever reason I am glad I booked his bet!
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Old 05-31-2009, 09:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onefast99
On the 3rd floor at Aqueduct there is a trackside restaurant and anyone who has ever been there knows there is a jamaican fellow who frequents that area looking for tips or owners and trainers to tell him that their horse is live. Last year we had one in on a rainy day in February I went thru the glass doors on my way down the escalator to the paddock two feet behind me was this gentleman. As I got to the top of the paddock stairs where the IDs are checked this guy asks me how do you look trainer, I told him I'm not the trainer but we look ok. He said thank you and I figured I was done with him. On my way back to the 3rd floor he stops me again and tells me he is out of money and could I place a $20 win bet on my horse for him. I said ok. Well we won at 4-1 and right after the race was official the guy comes up to me and hands me my $20 back plus his program with the 9 horse circled in the last race. The horse was 20-1 morning line and he told me that the trainer told him he "can't lose". I played the horse with some of my winnings. At post time he was 23-1. He wins the race and pays $48 and the exacta of 9-6 pays $260. We don't race much in NY anymore but I have to admit that 9 out of 10 times I would just ignore a stranger who asks me to bet my money for them but for whatever reason I am glad I booked his bet!





That's definitely not how I thought that story was going to end.
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Old 05-31-2009, 09:46 PM   #8
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I know quite a few characters and over the years have met some great Characters and some bad ones.

On of the best Characters was Jack Klugman. He would walk around the Track looking like you would expect Oscar Madison to look. He was a real fan of Horse Racing and definitely a Character to be missed.

Last edited by andymays : 05-31-2009 at 09:53 PM.
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Old 05-31-2009, 10:03 PM   #9
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i remember as a kid, one of the characters who was an ex jockey, that had been banned for using a buzzer.
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Old 05-31-2009, 10:11 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andymays
I know quite a few characters and over the years have met some great Characters and some bad ones.

On of the best Characters was Jack Klugman. He would walk around the Track looking like you would expect Oscar Madison to look. He was a real fan of Horse Racing and definitely a Character to be missed.

Yeah, and Walther Matthau too. He loved horse racing like few others...

One of his great quotes on gambling.. paraphrasing "The most enjoyable thing in the world is betting a winner. The second best thing is betting a loser"

Also, IMO, he and Marty Ritt made the best and most realistic horse racing movie ever in Casey's Shadow.....

And finally, one of my favorite horse quotes of all time in the movie, Little Miss Marker. "Lady, your horse has no speed... and then he tires"
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Old 05-31-2009, 10:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cadillakin
Yeah, and Walther Matthau too. He loved horse racing like few others...

One of his great quotes on gambling.. paraphrasing "The most enjoyable thing in the world is betting a winner. The second best thing is betting a loser"

Also, IMO, he and Marty Ritt made the best and most realistic horse racing movie ever in Casey's Shadow.....

And finally, one of my favorite horse quotes of all time in the movie, Little Miss Marker. "Lady, your horse has no speed... and then he tires"


Marty Ritt was one of the greatest horseplayers I have ever known. He could sit for days waiting for the right spot to wager. He was the ultimate value player as the horse had to be a "square price" or he wouldn't bet it no matter how much he fancied its chances.

Milton Berle was fabulous. He would bring an envelope full of $50 bills and would send me to the windows to bet $50 for him and $50 for me on his selections. Unfortunately, he wasn't a very good handicapper.

Joshua Shelley was a great speed handicapper. He taught me alot about handicapping and a lot about life as well. His mantra was, "No speed, no bet!"

Henry Slate, one of vaudville's Slate Brothers, never handicapped but bet tips and loved chalk. He was hysterical.

Dick Yarmie loved the game and studied the Form every night.

Vic Tayback always had an entourage of horseplayers with him at the track. He took care of those guys. gave them money to bet, fed 'em lunch and then took 'em to dinner. He was a wonderful guy who died way too soon.

Vince Edwards was an asshole who thought he was special.

Elliot Alexander is the king of the whisperers.

Tim Conway is always hysterical. He is just as funny in real life as he is on tv and in the theatre.
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Last edited by ManeMediaMogul : 05-31-2009 at 10:33 PM.
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Old 05-31-2009, 10:33 PM   #12
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Good stuff…

If you haven’t read it, Harvey Pack’s book; “May The Horse Be With You: Pack at the Track” is made for this thread….A classic.

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1932910859...489&camp=211189
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Old 05-31-2009, 10:45 PM   #13
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The Stooper and The Yeller

At the old Arlington Park, in the last century, there was guy in the grandstand area who spent the majority of his time picking up discarded tickets to see if they were winners. I saw him there every day and gave him the nickname of the Stooper. I think that picking up tickets was his full time job.

There was another fellow who I called The Yeller because he seemed to bellow at the top of his lungs at the conclusion of each race. He acted as if he had won each race and was yelling the reason why the horse that won was the best bet in the race.
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Old 05-31-2009, 11:28 PM   #14
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I heard that buddy hackett was a player, one time he had a couple and drove his car into the fountains at Caesers. A cop comes up to the car and buddy rolls down his window, and yells, " no wax ".
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Old 05-31-2009, 11:28 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ManeMediaMogul
Marty Ritt was one of the greatest horseplayers I have ever known. He could sit for days waiting for the right spot to wager. He was the ultimate value player as the horse had to be a "square price" or he wouldn't bet it no matter how much he fancied its chances.

Milton Berle was fabulous. He would bring an envelope full of $50 bills and would send me to the windows to bet $50 for him and $50 for me on his selections. Unfortunately, he wasn't a very good handicapper.

Joshua Shelley was a great speed handicapper. He taught me alot about handicapping and a lot about life as well. His mantra was, "No speed, no bet!"

Henry Slate, one of vaudville's Slate Brothers, never handicapped but bet tips and loved chalk. He was hysterical.

Dick Yarmie loved the game and studied the Form every night.

Vic Tayback always had an entourage of horseplayers with him at the track. He took care of those guys. gave them money to bet, fed 'em lunch and then took 'em to dinner. He was a wonderful guy who died way too soon.

Vince Edwards was an asshole who thought he was special.

Elliot Alexander is the king of the whisperers.

Tim Conway is always hysterical. He is just as funny in real life as he is on tv and in the theatre.

I have to tell you that I knew Vince rather well.. Yes, an asshole, a big one..

He had this little tipster Mafia group... where they would exchange all the insider info and talk like wise guys... I sat behind one of his best tip-sources in the SA box seats.. They are going back and forth... "It's the 2 - Jerry says the 2 is a lock." "Nah, Sonny says Randy loves the 5." Bla bla bla..

I had a friend in the box.. He is pretty impressed a movie star is standing three feet away from him... But I'm fed up with the distraction, so finally, I speak up, saying to my friend loud enough for everybody to hear... "Don't pay no attention to those guys.. their full of sh*t". So Vince, being the angry man, says, What the f*** you talking about? "You heard me", I said.. He says aggressively, So who do you like smart guy". Well, I answered him...

Unfortunately, my horse won... Thereafter Vince tabbed me as an insider...

I gave him only generic advice because I didn't really want to assist him in any way. He was perhaps the rudest man I ever met... He would cut in front of people in the cashier or seller line.. and sometimes get in pushing matches and threaten violence right there in line.. One time I had a girl with me... and Vince walks up and starts blabbin away.. She says, Wow, isn't that guy a movie star.. He's your friend?". I answered, "Hell no. That guy is an f****** idiot..

Vince called me "HEY" and generally addressed me in a somewhat, "You're a peasant, I'm a king" mode.. What a d*ck he was/is... and without a doubt, the biggest, addicted, losing gambler I ever encountered
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