By Howie Carr
Like Whitey Bulger, Stevie Flemmi was determined to make up for lost time. In Town (led by mobster Jerry Angiulo) made some overtures to him about joining the Mafia, but Stevie figured the opportunities were better in Somerville. And they were. Tony Ciulla had finally figured out how to fix horse races and not get caught.
At the beginning of his career, Fat Tony had drugged horses. Years later, in state prison, his partner Billy Barnoski wrote an essay about their early days fixing races at county fairs. He called his story “The Swinging (Expletive) Derby.” In it, Barnoski’s first-person narrator recounts giving the favorite horse so many drugs that by the time the race went off, his penis is dragging on the track.
There’s all kinds of ways to fix a race. You can past-post — bet after you know the winner. But with technology, that got harder, plus you can get killed for that. On the dogs, they’d cut their nails, which slows ’em down. You can win a race by drugging a horse or two, but the problem is, they drug-test after the race, and then they throw out the results and usually somebody gets arrested. It’s a lot better to control the jockeys however you can. That’s what Ciulla learned from experience. Drugs, bribes, hookers — Ciulla figured out which buttons to push with the jockeys.
“How it worked was, Ciulla would get the racing forms ahead of time, and he’d determine which of his jockeys was in which race. If he had two or three jockeys in one race, the opportunity was there to make some money. If they were riding favorites, that was better, because you want to stop the favorites and then bet the long shots. Obviously, long shots are where you can make some real money.
“If you’ve got the favorites stopped, then you bet all the combinations of the horses that have a shot — quinellas, trifectas, exactas. We’d tie up the betting windows for a half hour before post-time, betting every possible combo. . . . To make it work, you need a bunch of guys at the track, because bookies don’t take that kind of action; it’s too complicated. Bookies only take win-place-show. We had to have a lot of guys at the tracks.
“Another thing you have to worry about: horse players can read the forms. They know how long a race should take, depending on the field. If you’ve got a bunch of horses that should be coming in at, say, 1:01 or 1:02, and then the winner comes in at 1:08 or 1:10, a lot of people are going to figure out that something is going on. Maybe even the steward. But hell, chances are the steward’s betting too . . .
“The other problem was that after you win a string of races, the word goes out, ‘Don’t take no more horses from that guy.’ The bookies shut you off, good-bye. Bookies know what’s happening. ”
The Hill needed bookies to bet straight up on Ciulla’s fixed races. Sometimes they used “beards” —guys who weren’t connected, or at least weren’t known to be with the Hill. Suddenly they would go on these incredible winning streaks, until the day came when the bookies refused to take any more action from them. Soon the Hill was inquiring of everyone they did business with, do you know any bookies we can bet with?
One of the guys they approached was Richie Castucci, the Revere hustler and owner of the Ebb Tide, Joe Barboza’s old hangout on the beach . . .
Castucci was another degenerate gambler, who’d been a high-roller in Las Vegas since the late 1950s. He was such a regular that he attended Sammy Davis Jr.’s wedding to Swedish actress May Britt there in 1960. None of Castucci’s show-biz connections meant anything to Winter Hill. They only cared about finding more bookies. Castucci told Johnny that he knew a guy in New York, Jack Mace, who could handle all the action they wanted to give him.
Martorano: “So we hit this guy Jack Mace three or four times, for big money. Finally he calls me up. He says, look, if you’re going to do this to me, you gotta give me some real action too. See, he was big enough that he could lay off a lot of the ‘live’ action we were giving him, but why should he do it if we’re not giving him a chance to make some money, too? I understood. At least he wasn’t cutting us off, period, which is what a lot of them had already done. Mace says, if you want to keep betting the horses with me, give me some sports action too. And that’s when we started getting into the heavy stuff. We thought we were playing everybody for suckers, but what we didn’t realize is that they were sucking us in, and in the end, we’re the ones who got suckered.”
(Editor’s note: On Feb. 9, 1979, Martorano and the rest of the Winter Hill crew, except for Whitey Bulger and Steve Flemmi, were indicted in the race-fixing scheme. Years later, Martorano would discover why his two pals were spared.)
read the rest with Video Click here: Horse play doesn’t pay for John Martorano and co. – BostonHerald.com