The oldtime race track plungers went out with the remorseless arithmetic of the 15% betting tax. But during the current Belmont meeting, word whipped through the plant that a mysterious "Texas oil man" was wagering $10,000 to $20,000 a race. The "oil man" turned out to be Roy W. Stovall, a 60-year-old self-professed real estate broker from Los Angeles.
The pink-faced Stovall was the most red-blooded customer ever seen at New York's mutuel windows. A bug-eyed gallery of $2 bettors watched a $50 clerk punch out $24,000 for him in one race. Stovall demolished one roll of $100 bills, so big he couldn't even fold it. He put his hand inside a light-blue suit and pulled out another fat parcel. By then he had driven his choice down to even money. It was easily beaten.
This was after he had shoved canasta decks of tickets at the cashier on four straight winners which grossed him roughly $53,900. He dropped $36,000 on the last two races.
Stovall denied the huge scale of his operations. But they were verified.
June 24, 1956
Had he ever beaten the races?
"Why," he said warily, checking potted palms for Internal Revenue agents, "I never beat a meeting in 10 years. I just go back to work like any other fellow and get fresh money."
News of Stovall's activities splattered papers from coast to coast.
In Los Angeles a Mrs. Roy W. Stovall wailed: "We're not wealthy. There have been times we've had to get along without an automobile of our own. I've got to contact him."
However, Stovall was showing unmistakable signs of cooling off by the time Needles' Belmont came around. As the Belmont field went to the post, he counted his money, and then searched other pockets. He found four errant bills, smoothed them and put the pile before the $50 seller.
"No. 3, 120 times," he said.
Needles—No. 3—paid $3.30. Stovall won $3,900 for his bet of $6,000.