Historical: Frosty the Gambling Horse

Horse players are nothing new. But a horse ... player? It was big news when Frosty strolled into the casino. Written by Martha Cantarini for EquiSearch.

A Palomino horse, wearing the best coat in the room, snatched the attention from celebrity packed marquees on the glittering Las Vegas strip. Originally intended as publicity for a new racetrack, Frosty wowed the casino by rolling a “hot 7” at the crap table, becoming the only horse to win big at the luxurious Thunderbird Hotel and casino.

A little known star, with a mere roll of the dice, brought the house down.

President Joe Wells of the Nevada Racing Association headed the construction of a new racetrack behind the hotel. Wells also happened to be the hotel’s Executive Director and was planning an entertainment extravaganza to herald the opening of the new track. Everyone who was anyone in Vegas was invited. The Honorable Sam Steiger, Arizona Senator, would announce the first meet. The extensive entertainment was meticulously planned, but they needed an attention grabbing “show stopper.” Frosty was their number one choice. The star of his own one-hour-live local TV show proved that he was more than up to the task.

A crowded casino, packed to the rafters with gamblers eager to spend money, was not easy to negotiate. Certainly, it would present a major obstacle to a horse. But this was not just an ordinary horse.

A quick tour of the room suggested one option. The work area had to have enough space for an 1,100 pound “customer.” What could the horse do? All eyes landed squarely on one of the crap tables. Pressed by management for an answer, an unheard of decision was quickly made by Frosty’s trainer. He would roll the dice! Distractions such as noise, flashing lights, slots with sirens and bells, etc. were immeasurable. This made the option of a “show-stopping performance” difficult and limited.

When the special night arrived, all of Las Vegas seemed to have wriggled its way into the casino: The invited, and the uninvited. Colorful lights followed the Palomino and bounced off of his pure white mane. Carefully, he picked his way through the maze of guests that swarmed around the four — legged stools, slot machines and gaming tables.

The golden hairs in his sleek coat sparkled as he approached the table. His ears flipped back and forth as he tried to decipher the meaning of sounds he had never heard before.

A horse walking through the sea of people stopped all the action. The sea parted as it must have for Moses. Immediately suspicious, the pit bosses, arms folded on their chests, scanned the entire area with guarded expressions. They hovered warily near the table as they kept a protective eye on Frosty and another on an impassioned Joe Wells.

The 16-hand Quarter Horse/Tennessee Walking horse took his place at the table with the authority. He stood confidently by his trainer. On cue, Frosty took the first cube, with his mouth, from her outstretched hand. With a confident flip of his nose, he threw it into the middle of the green felt table. It rolled noiselessly and tumbled to a stop. It was a three.

Shrieks of those gathered around the table bounced off the walls.

With an almost arrogant toss of his head, Frosty flung the second die, which left his mouth and ripped across the table. It was a four!

There was an instant of stunned silence in the casino before the crowd roared. The golden horse raised his head, shook it till his long white mane fell every-which-way, and whinnied! The noise travelled to every corner of the huge room as if to mock those that doubted him.

The guests shouted their approval as they clapped and rushed in beside the horse ten-deep. Photographers clicked away. Even chefs came from the kitchens, securing their hats with spastic motions as they ran.

Frosty stood good-naturedly as the mob elbowed in to touch him for luck before he disappeared into the crowd, followed by a hail of good wishes and goodbyes.

Note: There were many reasons why Frosty was able to accomplish this difficult routine. The exercises he mastered to overcome being stunted at an early age became basics for almost anything he was asked to do or learn. He would constantly strive for the generous rewards that came when he put forth the effort to learn. Even if he didn’t succeed 100%, he was strongly rewarded for trying. As his body grew, so did his mind. It has been said that 1 in 10,000 horses could perform as he did in the casino that night.




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