The Gambler and the Bug Boy: 1939 Los Angeles and the Untold by John Christgau

By John Christgau

“Scandal at the Turf!” the l. a. occasions proclaimed. It was once October 1940, a trifling few months after Seabiscuit had received the Santa Anita Derby, and now this bombshell: “Six Jockeys Admit Horse Races Fixed.” The Gambler and the malicious program Boy recounts this darkish bankruptcy in horse racing heritage. At its middle is Bernard “Big” Mooney, a flashy L.A. bookmaker who all started his seedy occupation by means of threatening younger jockeys with loss of life in the event that they didn’t “pull” their horses. His unwilling accomplice is Albert Siler, a callow, eighteen-year-old apprentice rider (a so-called trojan horse boy) from jap Oregon. John Christgau tells how significant Mooney manipulated this promising rider and the way Siler attempted to flee the gambler’s felony grip with out ruining his occupation. Christgau's e-book provides all of the harrowing info of the unraveling plot and the botched courtroom case that which riveted the eye of the state. instructed in complete for the 1st time, this tale brings to gentle a little-known yet very important horse racing scandal. (20071008)

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Mooney nodded. Usually they left the bug boys alone, he explained. Often just older riders ran for Sweeney, because they were over the hill and had nothing to lose. But Mooney and his friends considered Siler one of the most dependable riders at Hollywood Park. Dependable! It was a catchword for obedience, and he went on to explain that for pulling horses as directed, Siler would get one hundred dollars for long shots and two hundred for favorites. Now it was clear to Albert what he was being told to do.

That night, Gus Dye and Bert Reynolds, who had also been drawn into the fix at that point, packed their bags. The next day they left for Seattle and Longacres racetrack. Again, Albert faced the choice of fleeing himself. But his friend Gus Dye had had only one victory at Hollywood Park. Neither Dye nor Reynolds was receiving the attention from the press, or the predictions of greatness, that Albert received. For them, Seattle offered a fresh start away from Mooney. But for Albert, seeking a new Eden, exactly as his father had done over and over, didn’t make sense.

The Bug Boy 17 trying to make parachutes out of porous gunnysacks and then jumping from the same hayloft door to crash landings. In time there were less foolhardy and dangerous adventures for Albert. In 1932, for three days of racing at the Walla Walla Fair, he rode a neighbor’s Shetland pony. It was elimination racing—once you won the five dollar prize for first place, you were eliminated from the meet. Albert was certain he could win on his neighbor’s pony, but he quickly calculated that by holding his pony the first two days for second place money, then winning on the third day, he could double his cash award.

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