The Gambler and the Bug Boy: 1939 Los Angeles and the Untold Story of a Horse Racing Fix by John Christgau, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
The Gambler and the Bug Boy: 1939 Los Angeles and the Untold Story of a Horse Racing Fix

The Gambler and the Bug Boy: 1939 Los Angeles and the Untold Story of a Horse Racing Fix

by John Christgau
     
 

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“Scandal on the Turf!” the Los Angeles Times proclaimed. It was October 1940, a mere few months after Seabiscuit had won the Santa Anita Derby, and now this bombshell: “Six Jockeys Admit Horse Races Fixed.”
 
The Gambler and the Bug Boy recounts this dark chapter in horse racing history. At its center is

Overview


“Scandal on the Turf!” the Los Angeles Times proclaimed. It was October 1940, a mere few months after Seabiscuit had won the Santa Anita Derby, and now this bombshell: “Six Jockeys Admit Horse Races Fixed.”
 
The Gambler and the Bug Boy recounts this dark chapter in horse racing history. At its center is Bernard “Big” Mooney, a flashy L.A. bookmaker who began his seedy career by threatening young jockeys with death if they didn’t “pull” their horses. His unwilling partner is Albert Siler, a callow, eighteen-year-old apprentice rider (a so-called bug boy) from eastern Oregon. John Christgau tells how Big Mooney manipulated this promising rider and how Siler tried to escape the gambler’s criminal grip without ruining his career. Christgau's book gives all the harrowing details of the unraveling plot and the botched court case that followed which riveted the attention of the nation. Told in full for the first time, this story brings to light a little-known but important horse racing scandal.

Editorial Reviews

True West

“[T]his fascinating story of gambling and corruption has not yet been told. Fortunately, John Christgau brings the title characters into light and sets the stage effectively. . . . [A] well-researched piece that recounts a great story of intrigue in a place filled with mystery.”—True West

— Jason Strykowski

Aethlon

"Christgau tells this true crime story with skill, providing plenty of intrigue and suspense, and reminding anyone interested in racing why 'suspicion [is] as much a part of horse racing as hope.'"—Laurie A. Sterling, Aethlon

— Laurie A. Sterling

Jay Feldman
"In his customary fashion, John Christgau has spun an engrossing tale, rich in salient detail and peopled with memorable characters. From the starting gate to the finish line, The Gambler and the Bug Boy is a winner."

-Jay Feldman, author of When the Mississippi Ran Backwards and Suitcase Sefton and the American Dream

True West - Jason Strykowski

“This fascinating story of gambling and corruption has not yet been told. Fortunately, John Christgau brings the title characters into light and sets the stage effectively. . . . [A] well-researched piece that recounts a great story of intrigue in a place filled with mystery.”—True West
Aethlon - Laurie A. Sterling

“Christgau tells this true crime story with skill, providing plenty of intrigue and suspense, and reminding anyone interested in racing why ‘suspicion [is] as much a part of horse racing as hope.’”—Laurie A. Sterling, Aethlon

Library Journal

One could almost think that this entertaining work by Christgau (Tricksters in the Madhouse: Lakers vs. Globetrotters, 1948) is a novel if it weren't for the 40 pages of citations at the back. He recounts the story of how Albert Siler, an up-and-coming jockey from a struggling family, crossed paths with Big Mooney, an ambitious gambler determined to beat the odds on horse racing by bribing jockeys to lose races. Siler and other young jockeys of the late 1930s were torn between Mooney's easy money and the shame of losing races, but when they tried to leave the gambling ring, Mooney issued dire threats. As the Los Angeles district attorney closed in on Mooney and took him to court, it was up to Siler and the other jockeys to supply the information to close Mooney's operations for good. Christgau brings this "Scandal on the Turf" back to light and life. Recommended for libraries where there is an interest in racing or handicapping, as well as for those enjoying character-driven historical true crime.
—Amy Ford

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803211223
Publisher:
University of Nebraska Press
Publication date:
10/28/2007
Pages:
274
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

Jay Feldman

“In his customary fashion, John Christgau has spun an engrossing tale, rich in salient detail and peopled with memorable characters. From the starting gate to the finish line, The Gambler and the Bug Boy is a winner.”—Jay Feldman, author of When the Mississippi Ran Backwards

Meet the Author


John Christgau is the author of several works, including The Origins of the Jumpshot: Eight Men Who Shook the World of Basketball, and Tricksters in the Madhouse: Lakers vs. Globetrotters, 1948, both available in Bison Books editions.

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