Thu, Jun 26th - 7:42AM
Gambling, Horse Racing and the Mafia
Gambling, Horse Racing and the Mafia
A 39 to 1 shot won a race at Belmont recently, beating out the "sure thing" horse known as Big Brown. Big Brown was in the lead when suddenly the jockey pulled up around the last corner. He was going to win, there was no doubt about it, but the jockey suddenly pulled back on the reins and Big Brown slowed so much that he ended up coming in dead last.
The winner was a practically nameless horse that was a 39 to 1 shot.
Since then controversy has exploded over why the horse (and jockey) failed to win. Questions about anabolic steroid use, the jockey, the trainer are all circling in the media, but none of them seem to have clued in to one thing they've all forgotten.
The jockey claims that Big Brown suddenly refused to run, but I say that is bullshit. The jockey lost the race on purpose, and was likely paid or coerced to do so.
That's where the mafia comes in. The mafia has always had a hand in the horse races. Rigged races are the wrenches that tosses the whole betting system into chaos.
What it means, in theory, is that the 39 to 1 shot wasn't really a 39 to 1 shot after all. That nameless horse was the real "sure thing" in a race that was fixed from the beginning.
Now I should mention that I worked for the racetrack for 6 years as a summer job. I've seen a tonne of sulky races in my time. I've seen crashes too, where the jockey ends up pinned under the sulky (the little cart the horse pulls behind them). But I've never even heard of a 39 to 1 shot winning a race against a horse that everyone was expecting to win.
And what about all the other horses in the race? The ones that had 5 to 1 or 10 to 1 odds? What happened to them? Apparently they threw the race too.
Mind you I should clear something up here. The difference between the lead horse and the last horse is only a matter of seconds. There is a lot of room for error, the horse having a cold, the horse stumbling, etc.
The matter is not closed. Big Brown's trainer, Rick Dutrow, is set to go before a Congressional hearing today to examine "safety concerns" within the horseracing industry. Shit, even the politicians are getting involved now.
A statement by the Congressional subcommittee said recent deaths “point to a persistent and widespread problem, raising significant questions about the sport and its governance.”
The committee will also hear from Richard Shapiro, the chairman of the California Horse Racing Board; Arthur Hancock III, the owner of Stone Farm outside Lexington, Ky.; Jess Jackson, the owner of Stonestreet Stables; Randy Moss, the ESPN analyst; Alan Marzelli, president of the Jockey Club; and trainer Jack Van Berg.
What they're trying to prove is whether Big Brown's failure was due to injury, steroids or something else. Nobody is using the word mafia yet and I think this is all a smokescreen of a controversy. Somehow proving that Big Brown has a crack in one hoof is not proof that the jockey still lost the race deliberately.
It does make me wonder however, from a gambling perspective, if that race was rigged how many of the other races are rigged too? And since the serious money is only made when a longshot wins the race, doesn't that mean that any rigged races would be ones where the longshot wins?
Check out the funny picture from the website http://www.getsulky.com below. Doesn't the guy with the cigar even look like he's in the mafia?
It is just a picture, but whatever. In my 6 years of working for the racetrack I've seen guys like that make their bets. Sometimes they're a lot older. Sometimes they send their girlfriends to make the bets for them.
The really funny thing is when they whisper their bets. That means they know (or think they know) something that nobody else does.
Interesting thing is that sometimes they do know and come back to cash a ticket worth thousands of dollars. No way to prove they rigged the race, but I think thats all part of the horse racing culture. There is practically guaranteed to be some mafia on the racetrack property on any big race day. Probably quite a few of them.
The fact that the mafia regularly owns the horses and can coerce/pay the jockeys off is totally a moot issue. What it means for the real gamblers is that those longshots in the big races suddenly look a lot more favourable.
Incidentally, if you like mafia/horseracing movies, a really funny one is "A Fine Mess" starring Ted Danson, Howie Mandel and Paul Sorvino as the mafia boss. It is old (1986), but it has the look and feel of a Chevy Chase or John Candy movie. Plot synopsis: Two friends (an actor and a chef) discover a plot to fix a horse race and capitalize on it. However they also have to deal with the two men who fixed it who are trying to silence them, and there's also the mob boss whom the two mafia guys work for who planned the rigged race, whose wife just happens to be having an affair with the actor (played by Ted Danson)... loads of mayhem and fun.