During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, when Saratoga was at it's height of popularity, racing season got underway the day before the opening program when the Cavanaugh Special rolled into town. This deluxe train of Pullman cars transported bookmakers and their assistants exclusively. Some 600 strong they fell in behind their leader, "Irish" John Cavanaugh, for whom the train was named, and marched to their hotels cheered on by a band and a crowd of horseplayers who had turned out to welcome them.
Bookmakers became a active at race tracks in New York in the late 1880's, fancying themselves no less reputable than Wall Street brokers and their function no less worthy than that of the Stock Exchange. They advertised themselves as "Turf Exchanges." New York's most successful bookies formed the Metropolitan Turf Association, and their membership buttons were sold as seats on the Stock Exchange, were just as difficult and almost as costly to obtain.
Saratoga bookmakers were a colorful lot with nicknames to match their idiosyncrasies: The Boy Plunger, Big Store, The Orator; Orlando Jones was called Fashion Plate in mock deference to his Victorian attire and "Tiffany" Wolfgang had won his moniker by guaranteeing the price he quoted to be as good as anything in the country's most famous jewelry shop.
WE THANK YOU FOR WAGERING ON OUR "BOOKMAKERS". WE HOPE YOUR'LL AGREE IT'S A SURE BET!
Best Known For...
Potato Chips. Banquets. Largest Ballroom in Saratoga 600-800.