When Good Horseplayers Go Bad (Part 5)

By Ray Wallin

I have highlighted some outrageous horseplayer behavior in the first four parts of this series:

When Good Horseplayers Go Bad Part 1

When Good Horseplayers Go Bad Part 2

When Good Horseplayers Go Bad Part 3

When Good Horseplayers Go Bad Part 4

But there are always more hilarious examples of horseplayers in action to be found on the internet. So whether you are a part-time handicapper or if you make your living playing the races, there is always time for a good laugh.

Atlantic City racebooks in the early late 1990’s and early 2000’s were interesting places to hang out. This was before the Borgata made the Marina Section of town the more desirable place to be (no disrespect to Harrah’s and the old Trump Marina which is now the Golden Nugget).

My wife and I would head down for the comped rooms she would get playing the one-armed bandits at Bally’s. I had two choices, the racebook in Bally’s or the Wild West. The former was behind glass doors which kept out the rift-raft a bit, but the latter was out on the casino floor, near the boardwalk entrance. Seeing how I was often there for the entertainment factor between races, I would spend my time in the Wild West’s wide open racebook. The characters that would stumble in off the boardwalk to play a couple of races were well worth the price of admission.

One summer afternoon while my wife was killing the progressive penny slots back in 2001, I got to witness an amazing horseplayer in action. I wish cell phones could have recorded video footage like they do today.

A few races into live action I witnessed a man that could have been the original founder of GoFundMe. This guy walked up and down the aisles between rows of degenerates asking if anyone had some change to spare. He hustled, made guys laugh, and gave them the hard sell. Eventually he scraped together enough loose change to put in a small exacta on a race at Pimlico. I thought that the show was over, but it had only begun on a 6-furlong race over the main track.

The horses were all finally loaded into the starting gate. The next 72 seconds will be a scene that will remain clear in my memory until the day I die. The second the gate opened, so did GoFundMe’s mouth. It started with a loud, high-pitched “Woo.” He took a long breath and settled in for the horse he had keyed on top of his well-hustled exacta.

Slapping a rolled-up stack of entry sheets from the casino like a whip in his hand he repeated the same line the rest of the race, “C’mon, c’mon, get up with that gray, get up with that big gray at Pimlico.” Rhythmically he slapped that roll of paper in his hand between repeating that line until the race was over.

At the end of the race, however, the look on his face said it all, that chestnut mare had beat his gray.

A shower of wrinkled entry sheets hit the floor and after a few choice words for the ride of the jockey on that “big gray from Pimlico” the hustle started again.

(Note that like many horseplayers, some of these videos contain some vulgar language!)

From his deathbed

I love horse racing. I love watching races. I will sneak a peek on my phone when I have a horse I like running during my kid’s orchestra concert or during overtime of their basketball game. Yet if I were in the hospital lying in a bed, I don’t think my mind would be on the races. Or would it?

Shake ‘n Bake

I yell at lot when I coach my son’s travel soccer team, mostly trying to get the kids to come off the field on a substitution and occasionally at a bad ref. If I yelled with the intensity of this guy, I would lose my voice during one race. Note the great finger pointing technique in trying to will his horse to the wire. This race didn’t work out for him, but maybe a delicious Kraft Shake ‘n Bake dinner awaits him later that evening at home.


Grumpy old man

Here is a two-for-one special, but it isn’t Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau trying to woo Ann-Margret.

What do you get when you cross a grumpy old man with a bad day at Santa Anita? If you guessed a lot of losing with a side of bad words and eventually beating up a plant and plastic cup, you were right.



Dad of the year

I have enjoyed introducing my kids to horse racing. Thankfully, they haven’t seen the dark side of what horseplayers can be like. I admittedly do get a little animated during the stretch drive, but I don’t think my voice has ever cracked like this guy. Notice how much his daughter is enjoying her dad making a spectacle of himself in the confines of their own home.

Thrill of victory

I love a good success story. Many of the degenerates we have seen in action are losing, but every so often it is fun to see how they react when they finally win one. He is more excited about winning than most contestants I have seen win on The Price is Right.


Once again, for those of us that remain more composed at the racetrack, it is always fun to come for the live racing and stay for the show! What other great entertaining horseplayer moments have you witnessed at the track or your favorite OTB?