A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 27, 2019
“Horses can’t read the tote board” (horse racing adage)

A tote board displays the odds on each horse in a race, but the horses don’t know the odds. “Horses can’t read the tote board” is a horse racing saying.

“But as the late Barney Dreyfuss used to remark...’Those horses can’t read that form sheet’” was printed in the Pittsburgh (PA) Sun-Telegraph on September 5, 1935. “Says Horses Can’t Read The Tote Boards” was printed in the San Diego (CA) Union on January 31, 1955.


Wikipedia: Tote board
A tote board (or totalisator/totalizator) is a large numeric or alphanumeric display used to convey information, typically at a race track (to display the odds or payoffs for each horse) or at a telethon (to display the total amount donated to the charitable organization sponsoring the event).

The term “tote board” comes from the colloquialism for “totalizator” (or “totalisator"), the name for the automated system which runs parimutuel betting, calculating payoff odds, displaying them, and producing tickets based on incoming bets.

5 September 1935, Pittsburgh (PA) Sun-Telegraph, “Sport Chatterbox,” pg. 26, col. 7:
But as the late Barney Dreyfuss used to remark..."Those horses can’t read that form sheet.”

31 January 1955, San Diego (CA) Union, “Touching All Bases” by Phil Collier, pg. B-3, col. 1:
Says Horses Can’t Read The Tote Boards
“Another thing—horses don’t know when they’re longshots. If they’re feeling good they think they can beat anything in the race. Horses are funny that way. They can’t read the Form charts.”
(Spoken by Bill Boland.—ed.)

14 June 1956, Vancouver (BC) Sun “‘Dry’ Track at Woodbine,” pg. 18, col. 3:
... but, of course, horses can’t read the tote board and in 1924 H. S. Wilson’s Maternal Pride paid $193.25.

26 November 1966, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, “In the Wake of the News” by David Condon, sec. 2, pg. 1, col. 3:
Tommy Carroll, Chicago police department, asks: “Why so many columns on horse racing?”...Comment: Because horses can’t read the betting odds.

27 February 1969, The Sun (Baltimore, MD), “Kallai Rides Air Gage to Bowie Score” by Gene Whittington, pg. C1, col. 5:
The mid-week crowd of 8,829 sent Frank’s Finest postward an even-money choice in the 8-horse field, but Air Gage again proved that horses can’t read the oddsboard.

20 January 1971, Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette, “Our Town” by Joe Browne, pg. 27, col. 5:
“It sounds stupid—I know horses can’t read the tote board—but I wanted him to know someone was rooting for hi,”
(Spoken by Henry Gerson.—ed.)

16 September 1974, New York (NY) Times, “Horses Can’t Read the Tote Board” by Red Smith, pg. 45, col. 2:
“If bettors would only learn that horses can’t read the tote board—even though sometimes you would think they could!”
(Spoken by Phil Bieber.—ed.)

Google Groups: alt.sport.horse-racing
Re: Condtions for the Derby used to never mention the word horse
foaddoc
4/27/07
(...) -
Why would anyone want to read the conditions of a race you old dope. Horses can’t read, horses just run, so they don’t know who they’re running against.

Twitter
Steve
@Empire365
Replying to @joemcginniss
@joemcginniss most Derby winners have taken Florida Derby. but yah horses can’t read the tote board. If so they be living it up w exp hay
11:21 PM - 6 May 2011

Twitter
CraigJ
@Derbyologist
Replying to @n_rogers53
@n_rogers53 @sdsuemk But Horses can’t read the Tote Board - and they don’t know what odds they are.
6:17 PM - 25 Oct 2015

Twitter
HRRN
@HRRN
Hawley: the horses can’t read the odds board, you may have a 40-1 come in.
9:29 AM - 30 Jun 2018

Twitter
ItsUncleLarry
@itsUncleLarry
The king of northeast Ohio @LooochRacing the game needs you my man. Lots of people depend on you and we good people care about you. 6/5 or 99/1 you can’t win if your not in. Horses can’t read the totes😂 peace and love to you whatever you decide, Merry Christmas 🎄🎁
9:02 PM - 13 Dec 2018

Standardbred (Canada)
Longest Shot Wins Northside Feature
Published: May 25, 2019 2:46 pm ET
The old adage that horses can’t read the toteboard was never truer than on Saturday afternoon (May 25) at Northside Downs.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Monday, May 27, 2019 • Permalink