Wednesday, 12 June 2019

now that’s a horse of a different colour

Though the title idiom is much older than what Dorothy exclaimed upon entering the Emerald City and pertains to horse-trading and how the coat can change colour as the animal matures and what’s listed in a registry may not match what’s before one’s eyes and is first cited as “a horse of that colour” by the duplicity maid Maria in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (1601), we nonetheless enjoyed reading about the 1926 caper that a horseman of Scottish extraction nearly got away with at a race-track in Chicago.
Referred to as ringing in gamblers’ circles, the horseman, possessed of a special and nonpareil talent (sadly squandered on grift and crime) for a quick and convincing dye and rise, bleached and painted the thoroughbreds so that the track stewards and jockeys failed to notice when their horses were switched, handicapping the odds and virtually guaranteeing a big win. Targeting small, remote racing operations at first, the horse painter was able to skip town and evade repercussions once the truth was realised but luck eventually ran out with Pinkertons in hot pursuit.  Discover more hidden histories at Narratively at the link above.