top of page


Show of hands, how many of you know a 'Desperado' horseplayer?

I have both of mine raised.

'I just need one, Bruno, just one' one horseplayer constantly told me.

I walked by him at Hollywood Park down in the clubhouse by the box seats, "I like the 3 in the 5th', he looks at his program and says 'I been told the 4'.

'You got anything for the TRI,' I kept walking, another 'Desperado' horseplayers who always wants the ones he can't get, was bemoaning his luck:

"I got the 3with 6, 6 with the 5, 9 with the 6, and no 3 with the 9, I am such an idiot."

His little buddy looking over his shoulder, wide eyed, looks at him "who you like in the next'.

"Desperado why don't you come to your senses."

I was asked if I like the 3 in one race, the horse was 0 for 23. A career maiden. "The horse is 0 for 23'' I responded, "he is due'', says the Desperado.

'Your prison is walking thru your life all alone', that is some handicappers in a nutshell.

They can't escape themselves.

Mel Brooks, the actor and comedian, that spans 7 decades, loves the races, he used to attend the races in the Turf Club at Hollywood Park, knew me in passing, ''hey kid'' when he wanted something.

One late afternoon, we are in the Turf Club elevator, 'Hey Kid'' you got anything coming up.

Barry Abrams had an unraced horse I liked so I offered it to Mel.

A month goes by, the horse had run and won, however, the name had been changed prior to debut, and here is Mel and I, in the elevator.

"Hey kid, when is that horse gonna run?'' Mel says.

'He already did, and won, they changed his name prior to debut' I responded.

Mel, with his History of the World Part I face on, "the story of my life'', he says.

Shia LaBeouf, the Hollywood star in Transformers and Indiana Jones, and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls, came out to Hollywood, we were hanging in the bar outside on the clubhouse level. Shia had had some run ins with the law and was being supervised, so a day at the track can't hurt anyone.

He and I were playing the horses and having some success.

Great kid, but had an addictive personality, he wanted to bet every race.

We made him put up $100 in his left pocket and the rest, he had to spend for the day, in his right.

So, each race we would say, as we escorted him to the windows, this one is 10% of what's in your left pocket or we really like this one and 20% of what you got in the right.

A fun day, but exhausting, soon as a race was official, 'what do we like in the next'' and ''lets go bet''.

Desperado, your pay and your hunger, they're driving you home.

Shia was a great kid, very warm, but you could tell he also had a dark side. He really enjoyed that day, he had fun, and no one bothered him for an autograph, nothing. He was safe with us.

It does get a bit more serious with the next one.

Thoroughbred Corp, the principal partner, the late Prince Ahmed bin Salman of the Saudi Arabian royal family, was in Southern California in the 1990s with horses with trainer Wally Dollase and later Bob Baffert.

My first experience with him was at Santa Anita in the turf club, he had all his security, his main bloodstock advisor, Richard Mulhall, around him and we were introduced, I was told to refer to him as 'his highness' after the formalities, he point blank asked me if my girlfriend was for sale.

In retrospect, I should have said yes, despite not being my call nor was she my property, but it would have relieved heartache later on, but I am just fantasizing.

She later asked me if I thought about the offer.

'His Highness always wanted information.

One Del Mar he send one of his bodyguards to summon me from the press box.

I recognized the burly Arabian man walking in the press box and asking a member of the Del Mar staff where he could find me, I needed five minutes to write out a quick last will and testament.

'The prince has summoned you to his suite' he says.

I had nowhere to run and headed downstairs to the Turf Club.

I walk in to his suite, 'his Highness' says "I'm stuck $20,000 give me four horses for superfecta'.

He handed me a program, I had learned you don't say no.

I circled four horses, and I was being escorted out of the suite. I remember thinking he is going to box them, he is going to lose and I am going to lose something .......

I turned around, security immediately blocked off his 'highness'.

I said "let me show how to play that'', and he waved off his bodyguard.

You take these 3 horses, put them on top, the 4 horses I gave you in the 2nd slot and 5 horses I outlined in the last two spots.

He waved to his bodyguards and they all scurried to the windows with the diagrammed play.

"Oh lord what did I get myself into,'' as I walked out onto the turf club bar.

I was standing at the bar watching his guy run around and gather tickets from the windows.

A stunning brunette is next to me and we start chatting, 'what do you like here', and she pops a question I didn't expect "what do you drive?".

I guess I was being vetted.

If you are a young man in the Del Mar Turf Club, you know the clientele and most of them worth noticing are looking for a rich available man.

I didn't hesitate "I drive a 1972 Ford Pinto, with the new wood on the side and big backseat'', thank god the race was just about to go off, because I was desperado to get out of there with all my fingers and toes, and a wholesome nose from the golddigger.

It was a cheap maiden claimer, and I nail the Superfecta for his Royal Highness.

Two thoughts were:

1.) they are going to have a party for me and I should invite the stunning brunette,

2.) I'll never get rid of them

Our familiar bodyguard finds me, "The prince ...'' and I finish his sentence ''summons, gotcha!". I was cocky now as I was hamming it up for the brunette.

He hit the super five times, $32,000 plus per each one.

Sigh of relief, may be he gives me one of his oil platforms, or something, so I can go back to the woman at the bar and tell her I will be be selling the Pinto and be driving a Ferrari, soon.

One the other hand, I don't want to be slave to this now, if I accept anything, I am owned.

I take the congratulations and leave.

For the remainder of the meet I was summoned by the Prince for selections, including a day with a big Pick 6 carryover. The day I thought I was going to go swimming with the fishies, but that's another story for another time.

My days at the track in California were 100% like Hollywood. These stories are 100% true without any embellishment, it was phenomenal even though we all are a little Desperado, and as we, as horseplayers, come from every corner of our society, world, rich, famous, poor, and we all 'want the one that you can't get.'


Recent Posts

See All

$hit $how


bottom of page