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But bookmakers deal in money, which is a more concrete thing than opinions on paper, and so they are by nature cautious. Most of them employed a private clocker whose job it was to spot any swift-working "good things." A clocker named George Sharpe, also known as Mountain, was on the payroll of several books who solicited his opinion of Sahri II.
"She isn't ready," Mountain flatly announced.
In the betting rings, both grandstand and clubhouse, the books chalked up their opening line. Sahri II was listed at 30 to 1. No one seemed interested. The price went up to 50 to 1. Headin Home and Speed were the early favorites in the betting.
Then it happened, something like the Johnstown flood. The two Cubans from the cigar store appeared in the grandstand ring. Shockley and a friend were in the clubhouse. They all were betting as fast as the books could take the action, moving from slate to slate.
The price fell fast. To 40 to 1, then 30, to 20 and 10 to 1. Some of the books, especially those who employed Clocker Mountain, held the line at 20 for a while. They all but got knocked off their stools. The general public, of course, had moved in on the heels of the Shockley group.
The closing price was 8 to 1. The only reason the odds stood still was that the horses were at the post. Villena remembered his instructions from the trainer: "Stay close to the leaders, but don't make your move until well into the stretch. It is a long one here." It was, indeed. At that time the Aqueduct stretch—the track has since been rebuilt—was a bit more than three furlongs, the longest in the country.
The race itself fell together like a Spanish omelet for the Chilean contingent. Villena snugged his horse along in second place until well into the stretch. He then gunned Sahri II into the lead and flashed past the finish a comfortable length in front.
The bookmakers had been slaughtered. The exact amount was never divulged, but it was high. The two Cubans had bet their $10,000 at odds ranging from 50 to 1 down to 10 to 1. They must have won about $250,000. Shockley, an independent soul who bet his own money, won at least that much.
In retrospect, it is amazing that nobody claimed Sahri II for that ridiculous price of $2,000. Hirsch Jacobs reportedly wanted to but got there too late. Hirsch was not too late for Caballero II, whom he haltered from the fourth race for $4,000.
After their burning in the first race the bookmakers exhibited their normal caution in the fourth event. They opened Caballero II at 5 to 1. The Cubans had left to go off and count their money. Shockley was strolling through the clubhouse accepting congratulations.