Henryís Random Thoughts


Early Tactics


In the old days, tracks didnít have much simulcasting of races from other tracks. There were ten races and a win, place and show for each one. Therefore, memorizing results was a simple affair. A stooper just remembered ten sets of three numbers. It is not that difficult once you get used to it. It wasnít that much tougher to keep track of scratches. He could look at a discarded ticket on the floor and know immediately whether it was a winner. If it was, he would bend over and pick it up. The motion of bending over gave stooping its name.


Jerry & Peggy did it this way for a while, but then Peggy came upon an innovation: the bag. Rather than go through tickets as they found them, she would carry a plastic bag, collect hundreds of them, and go through them later. This made the operation much more efficient by dividing the labor into steps. It also helped prevent some of the heat that would occasionally come. Since you could go through tickets in the comfort of your home, the chance of catching heat was cut in half.


From the outset, there was no problem for the couple to find winners. Peggy was an energetic stooper, and being a woman helped. Not only were female stoopers rare and thus less suspicious-looking, Peggy was youthful-looking and got courteous treatment from men due to the natural instincts of men to be chivalrous towards a good-looking woman.




Peggy did draw some unwanted attention on occasion. Once, a pervert inserted a picture of the midsection of his naked body into a wad of discarded tickets. After security was told to look out for this behavior, a man was spotted lingering around her and he dropped something. She picked it up and saw the same thing. The man saw her making a beeline to security and he bolted. He was never caught but he got the message and never came back.


Other events were less disgusting but equally problematic. Crooked pari-mutuel tellers told Jerry a certain find was already redeemed, since already-redeemed tickets did occasionally get back on the floor and were invalid. A conversation with a friendly competitor let Jerry know the teller was a crook who knew Jerry was a stooper and lied to him to keep his money. The solution to this was twofold: Learn to avoid certain crooked tellers, and make a habit of not turning in tickets in an area where you would have been visible stooping to the tellers. Eventually, they knew the tellers so well that they could turn in tickets that were obviously discarded, with footprints on them as well as debris from trash cans.


The bagging idea didnít go over well with everyone, either. Track personnel who turned a blind eye to most stooping found it tacky-looking, since the bag-holder was obviously a garbage picker to everyone who saw her the whole time she was there. Eventually, she solved the problem by carrying enormous handbags that matched her clothes instead of cruddy-looking plastic bags. But animosity over the bags caused Jerry to get a one-year suspension from River Downs before they came up with a solution.


Another problem was River Downs. At the time, it was a second-rate track with a bunch of cheap claiming races on its program. Across the river, Turfway Park in Kentucky boasted the same racing circuit as the Mecca of tracks, Churchill Downs. At one point, Turfway was owned by Jerry Carrol, a first-class operator who went on to build a NASCAR track in Sparta, Kentucky. River Downs lost a lot of business due to the quality of races. If you cared at all about the sport, you crossed the river to Kentucky rather than stay in Ohio. Pete Rose, along with other high rollers, blew their money at Turfway. And where the money goes, the stooping is going to be more rewarding.





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