"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 LA 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. Big Mooney manipulates this promising rider, while Siler tries to escape the gambler's criminal grip without ruining his career. The harrowing details of the unraveling plot and the botched court case that followed riveted the attention of the nation. Told in full for the first time, this story brings to light a little-known but fascinating horse racing scandal.
John Christgau is the author of numerous books, including Michael and the Whiz Kids and The Origins of the Jump Shot: Eight Men Who Shook the World of Basketball, both available in Bison Books editions.