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Potomac Books


The Gambler and the Bug Boy, The Gambler and the Bug Boy, 0803211228, 0-8032-1122-8, 978-0-8032-1122-3, 9780803211223, John Christgau, , The Gambler and the Bug Boy, 0803215541, 0-8032-1554-1, 978-0-8032-1554-2, 9780803215542, John Christgau, , The Gambler and the Bug Boy, 0803271700, 0-8032-7170-0, 978-0-8032-7170-8, 9780803271708, John Christgau

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

2007. 274 pp.
14 photographs
$24.95 t
Out of Print
2013. 280 pp.
14 photographs
$17.95 t

“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.

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.

“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

“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

“Christgau is skilled at making memorable characters from his subjects. . . . History-minded handicappers will find much to appreciate.”—Publishers Weekly

“One could almost think that this entertaining work by Christgau . . . is a novel if it weren’t for the 40 pages of citations at the back. . . . Recommended . . . for those enjoying character-driven historical true crime.”—Library Journal

“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

Also of Interest

Come on Seabiscuit!
Ralph Moody

Yankee Doodle Dandy
John Dizikes

Tricksters in the Madhouse
John Christgau

Origins of the Jump Shot
John Christgau