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All Horse Players Die Broke - PDF - / Send As Email
Even Unser Fritz, who makes the biggest scratch of all
by Damon Runyon
In Collier's Weekly, September 11, 1937, pp. 9-11 - Previous Article / Next Article

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CoUier^s The National Weekly for Septte
"I often stand here under these trees," Unser Fritz says, "watching her windows to see what time she puts out her lights"
IT IS during the last race meeting at Saratoga, and
one evening I am standing out under the elms in
front of the Grand Union Hotel thinking what a
beautiful world it is, to be sure, for what do I do in the
afternoon at the track but grab myself a piece of a
10-to-l shot.
I am thinking what a beautiful moon it is, indeed,
that is shining down over the park where Mr. Dick
Canfield once deals them higher than a cat's back, and
how pure and balmy the air is, and also what nicelooking
Judys are wandering around and about, although
it is only the night before that I am standing
in the same spot wondering where I can borrow a
Betsy with which to shoot myself smack-dab through
the pimple.
In fact, I go around to see a character I know by
the name of Solly something, who owns a Betsy, but
it seems he has only one cartridge to his name for this
Betsy and he is thinking some of either using the cartridge
to shoot his own self smack-dab through the
pimple, or of going out to the race course and shooting
an old catfish by the name of Pair of Jacks that plays
him false in the fifth race, and therefore Solly is not
in a mood to lend his Betsy to anybody else.
So we try to figure out a way we can make one
Being ihe slory of a well-known
character by the name of Unser
Fritz, who places many a dib
on the right horse and many
an emerald on the wrong doll
cartridge do for two pimples, and in the meantime
Solly outs with a bottle of applejack, and after a
couple of belts at this bottle we decide that the sensible
thing to do is to take the Betsy out and peddle
it for whatever we can, and maybe get a taw for the
next day.
Well, it happens that we run into an Italian party
from Pa.ssaic. N. J., by the name of Guiseppe Palladino,
who is called Joe for short, and this Joe is in
the money very good at the moment, and he is glad to
lend us a pound note on the Betsy, because Joe is such
a character as never knows when he may need an
e.xtra Betsj-. and anyway it is the first time in his experience
around the race tracks that anybody ever
offers him collateral for a loan.
So there Solly and I are with a deuce apiece after
we spend the odd dollar for breakfast the next day,
and I run my deuce up to a total of twenty-two slugs
on the 10-to-l shot in the last heat of the day, and
everything is certainly all right with me in every respect.
Well, while I am standing there under the elms,
who comes along but a raggedy old Dutchman by the
name of Unser Fritz, who is maybe seventy-five years
old, come next grass, and who is following the giddyaps
since the battle of Gettysburg, as near as anybody
can figure out. In fact, Unser Fritz is quite an institution
around the race tracks, and is often written up
by the newspaper scribes as a terrible example of what
a horse player comes to, although personally I always
say that what Unser Fritz comes to is not so tough
when you figure that he does not do a tap of work in
all these years.
In his day, Unser Fritz is a most successful handicapper.
a handicapper being a character who can dope
out from the form what horses ought to win the races,
and as long as his figures turn out all right, a handicapper
is spoken of most respectfully by one and all,

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