The Horse Race Betting Story
This is a true story that happened to me.
Written 06/2011 and rewritten 10/10/2016 unedited
In late 1960, and I was running my small Auto Wrecking yard just off West Main Street in Stamford Connecticut.
Every morning I would drive from my home in Westville Connecticut to Stamford.
I would simply get on the Connecticut Turnpike in New Haven and then exit on the West Main Street exit at Stamford.
Usually I would drive my own car, but sometimes I would drive a car that I had bought for the wrecking yard, especially if the car ran good.
On this particular morning, I was driving a 1954 Ford that I had just bought from an honest looking guy who told me it was in perfect condition, but he was leaving town so he had to sell it.
Just as I entered the Connecticut turnpike ramp in New Haven, when the engine on the 1954 Ford blew up, and I mean it blew up. I looked under the hood and a connecting rod and piston had come out the side of the engine.
So I pushed that Ford off to the side of the road, took off my Junk Yards Dealers license plate, sticking it under in my belt. Then I then illegally stuck my thumb out to hitch hike a ride to Stamford.
In a couple of minutes a car pulled over to pick me up. When I looked inside, there were three guys sitting in front seat and two big guys sitting in the back seat. They were all in work clothes like me and their work shoes were all muddy, so it was obvious they were construction workers.
There was hardly room for me to fit in the back, and I wondered why these guys even stopped to pick me up. But I got in and squeezed between the two big guys. I asked if they were going as far as the Stamford, West Street exit of the turnpike.
They said they would drop me off at the West Street exit of the turnpike as they were heading for the Belmont Race Track in New York.
They told me that they were all construction workers from New Haven and they had all gone to work that morning, but once at work they got a hot tip on a horse named “Wildfire”, and they all got in the car and headed for Belmont were going to bet on Wild Fire and make a ton of money.
They asked if I played the horses, and I said no.
Just before we reached the Stamford Exit, they told me to find a bookie, as I could make some easy money myself by betting on the horse.
I told them the truth, I didn’t know a bookmaker, as I never bet on a horse race in my life.
They let me off at the West Main Street exit, and I thanked them for the ride, and wished them good luck at the race track, and I also thanked them for the hot tip.
I walked down the turnpike ramp to the Shell Gas Station, where I used the phone to call my buddie Jerry at “Minuteman Towing Service”, I needed to get a ride to my business. While I waited, I told the two guys at the Shell station the story about how the guys gave me a ride and told me to find a bookie so I could bet on Wildfire. They didn’t seem to be too interested but they said there was a bookie that hung around the “Dew Drop Inn”, a local tavern right next to my wrecking yard on West Main Street.
My friend Jerry from Minuteman Towing came to pick me up and naturally I told what had happened and about the guys telling me to bet on the horse Wildfire. Jerry said he never bet on the horses but there was a bookie named Eddie that hung around the Dew Drop Inn. It appeared everyone knew where to find a bookie except me.
I opened up my wrecking yard up and walked up to West Main Street, where the Dew Drop Inn bar was located, and I went in.
It was only about 9:30 in the morning, but in the dim light and cigarette smoke, I could see two or three people drinking their morning beer, and there was the bar owner behind the Bar.
I asked if the bookie named Eddie was there, and the owner asked me what I needed him for, so I told him the story of the guys picking me up, and giving me the hot tip on Wildfire. The bartender said Eddie was usually there in the morning, but I could catch him at the news stand a couple of blocks up West Main Street.
None of the beer drinkers even looked up at me, so I left the bar and headed for the news stand. At the News Stand, they said Eddie the bookie was just there, and they wanted to know why I needed him. So I again related my story about a sure thing with Wildfire.
They said that I should go back to my business and they would reach Eddie and send him over to see me, so I did.
When I arrived at my place, my across the street neighbor named Abe Tunic, of the Tunic Brothers Parts Company was waiting for me, he had heard I was looking for a bookie and asked if I wanted help to locate Eddie, I said yes and I also told him the story about Wildfire. Abe was a pretty wealthy guy who never gave me a tumble before, so why was he being so nice to me no, I wondered.
About ten minutes later, Eddie the bookie showed up, he said, “Every one town had told him I wanted to see him. So I told Eddie about Wildfire. I could see Eddie was getting nervous, he said, “Hey buddie, how big of a bet do you want to lay off on Wildfire. He said, “You know I have a limit on what you can bet, it’s $5000.00 because I don’t know you. I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.
I told Eddie I wanted to bet $2.00 on Wildfire to win. He looked at me like I was an idiot, perhaps he thought I was betting too much? He asked if I was joking.
So I explained the whole story to him, and he said that he had already heard about the Horse Wildfire from just about half the population of Stamford. Eddie had a real funny look on his face as he took my money.
I anxiously waited all day to find out how much I had won. About five in the afternoon, Abe, my millionaire neighbor, came across the street to see me. Abe asked how much I had bet on Wildfire, I said $2.00 and why do you ask?
Abe said, because of you I bet $300.00 he said, so I asked him how much we won. Abe just looked at me, finally he said that Eddie the bookie told him that he had written up many thousands of dollars in bets all on Wildfire, and all were from the Stamford area. The bets came from everyone I had talked to, and everyone they had talked to.
Abe said because so much money was bet on Wild Fire the odds dropped to nothing which didn’t make any difference because Wild Fire didn’t even come in the running, He said, your horse Wildfire was a dud, a no show.”
None of my friends in the Stamford area talked to me for a long time, and for a while I even saw complete strangers pointing at me. I don’t think my neighbor Abe Tunic ever spoke to me again.