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Avoiding Touts And Hustlers At The Tracks

Aug 17, 2007
Too many people get bad information about the horses that are about to compete in a horse race from touts and hustlers. You want to avoid these guys because they will take your money and give you false information, which is a lose-lose situation.

A tout, in simplest terms, is one who seeks a precarious living by circulating among the crowd at a track. He presents himself as knowing something by giving info on a horse if the man approached will bet something on the side for the tout himself.

Nearly all hustlers operate in the same manner, equipped with nothing but nerves of brass and a good memory for faces, they try to cover each race by giving each horse in it to a different person in the very sure expectation that something they have dished out will come in first so that they will have given a winner to someone. In the event of a dead heat they will have had two winners with two different suckers and can attempt to collect twice for their unerring information. The whole racket is as simple as that.

A hustler may be - or may have been - anyone. He may be a stable hand, who grooms horses and walks "hots" when he is working and victimizes the innocent when he is loose among the crowd. He may have been a trainer or a small owner who has fallen on evil days, lost his license or his horses, and is trying to make a living the best he can. He may be a former jockey, grounded by weight or for misdeeds. But whatever he may have been, and whatever he claims to be, he is nothing for a player to follow with money.

A tout may be a person of relative integrity and confine himself to tipping just one horse in a race. In fact he may be so hopelessly mired in the swamp of the tracks as to think that his own opinions are worth something, and rush about dealing out his next hoped-for winner to all and sundry in the utmost good faith. But hustlers who give out only one horse in a race are scarce because this kind starves to death much sooner than the tout who follow the tried and true procedure of covering each race by giving each horse in it in turn to a different individual or group.

Obviously a tout's stock in trade consists of a plausible manner of approach, a good line of patter, and an excellent memory for faces. Thus equipped a competent practitioner of the art of racetrack fraud can promote nothing into a couple of meals a day, a few drinks, and a place to sleep.

The total volume of play on horses influenced by touts operating in person at the tracks is of course microscopic in comparison with that controlled by scratch-sheet and daily newspaper and racing sheet selectors or handicappers. But the hustlers do influence some few people, particularly novices, so that they call for mention in a book concerned with what not to do before dealing with what must be done by a player of horses if he is to have the least hope of being successful in the financial sense.
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