Faces in the Crowd

by Ed Meyer

posted on January 18, 2019 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Handicapping, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

If you don’t believe in the “spooky” stories of gamblers let me be the first. – Gamblers are the most superstitious animals in the world. The lucky hat, favorite seat, or the pen that was given to you by your friend from Vegas. – Horseplayers have always caught my curiosity over the years. Unlike poker players who wear the shades or the bingo players who have their lucky cupie dolls. The gamblers who chase the ponies are a sort all to themselves. How many can you remember?


The Black Cat

The “Cat” was the unluckiest gambler. – He could bet two horses in a two horse race and still find a way to lose. – The Cat was one of the kinds of gamblers who would walk around and ask everyone who they liked. – He would make multiple bets per race and still find a way to lose. – He used to go with his brother who was a well-known bookie. Unlike the Cat, he was super lucky. – “Fats” was the kind of guy who could reach into a sewer pipe and come out with a handful of diamonds. There couldn’t have been two people more different if you lived three lifetimes.

When Fats passed away after a lengthy illness, The Cat said he was going to the track the night they laid him to rest. – The boys all went out and had a few drinks and bet the races as Fats would have wanted. – On this night, The Cat was on-fire. He couldn’t pick a loser if his life depended on it. – He attributed his lucky streak to his late-brother watching over him. – The last I had heard of the Cat was he won a pick-six for over $100,000.



Small in stature and round as a plum. – The kind Italian gent had a name as long as your leg. Hence, the nickname “Spaghetti” from his pals. – The table in front of the dining room had six seats and they were filled every day an hour before the first race. They played simulcast, had lunch and a few drinks. If all went well, they could be seen during the live racing card which kicked off at 7:00 pm. – Benny would be the first to leave at 4:00 pm to make the last ferry home. His wife needed tending and this gentleman would pick up the tab for the table.  Angie would get drunk and his big belly laugh could make a statue smile. – Bill was the “Chairman of the Board” and offer worldly wisdom or ruffle the cards for a good game of Gin. – The guys had been lifelong friends and held court in the dining room. – The quiet Spaghetti never made much of a splash and was along for the ride. He never had many big winning moves, but one day he had his 15 minutes of fame. – He played a small pick-six at Fair Grounds and started picking them off one-by-one. The prices were solid and with each passing winner, he became the man of the hour. – Into the last race where he had two solid prices. They were coming back in the six digit range. – The guys all cheered him on and waited til’ loaded into the starting gate. – He had the lead right from the break and the other runner tracked in 6th. They rounded the far turn and he still had the lead but he was starting to toss in the towel. But not to worry. The other horse started kicking in. – As they made their way into the long stretch. All of the friends were standing and screaming at the TV. – Not as if the horses could hear them in New Orleans, but they weren’t going to let any stone go unturned. – As they neared the wire his fortunes were going to be second best. – He still took down a nice consolation score and for the rest of their days, this was still the talk of the table.


The Dream

Gamblers can remember with exact detail any dream that involves winning money. – Tommy had a bad month. He lost his grandmother, mother, and best friend. – A real tough scene to say the least, and you hurt for the man even if you didn’t know him. Tommy looked lost for the longest time. You would see him from time-to-time and he wasn’t the same guy. – I saw him at a summer track and noticed he lost weight, had a bronze tan and sported a sweet hat. – It made me wonder if this was the same guy. – He had a table in the clubhouse and always had a gal with him. Kinda’ made you wonder if he found D.B. Cooper’s money or hit the Irish sweepstakes. – But one day the truth found it’s way to my ears. – “Tommy had a dream according to the waitress. – His mother came to him in a dream and told him everything was going to be fine. This will pass.”  – I dismissed it as crap until he won our track handicapping contest and had a monster IRS ticket according to the mutuel manager. – Tommy ran into me one day and I asked him how his luck was going? – “Great, Ed. Ever since my dream I’ve had the year of my life. – My mom came to me in a dream one night and told me everything was going to be fine. It’s been gold and diamonds ever since.” – After hearing, I walked away with the biggest smile and felt good for the man who lost so much and still found happiness.