Hollywood stunt lady’s best gig: Del Mar race results

Jul 24, 2001 4:28 AM

HER NAME WAS DANNY. One particular summer around Del Mar she was affectionately known as Apple Annie. Age had turned her hair mostly white. But, her spirit was young.

This round-faced lady with rosy cheeks was a daring stunt lady years ago in Hollywood. Her favorite trick was jumping from the buckboard onto a team of runaway horses. Without fail she’d get to the lead horses and bring them to a halt.

Danny played with a number of leading stars. Errol Flynn was one of her favorites. Dressed to look like the matinee idol, Danny would dive off a running horse and onto a covered wagon. In the back was the hero. He was tied in rope and being kidnapped by the bad guys. The Flynner (Danny) would untie the good guy and the two of them tossed the bad guys overboard.

When her stunt working days were over, Danny moved to Las Vegas. She loved playing the ponies. Her charm was infatuating. She was known and respected in every book on the block.

A struggling race wire disseminator was down to his last client, the Barbary Coast. His competition was getting results from the tracks quicker than he could arrange, even though they both used the same wire service. (Remember, this was during the pre-simulcast era.) He was not a whiner. He never complained. But, he certainly was a plotter.

The gent who operated the Barbary Coast race book warned him that he would have to switch to the other service if he couldn’t get quicker results now that Del Mar was about to open.

The disseminator was rejected when he asked for access to the press box to do his duty. It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. It might explain why the wire service guy reached out to Danny to see if she would help him get quicker results out of the track where the surf meets the turf. Danny viewed the stunt as child’s play. And, when she heard that she would be sitting in the grandstand everyday to send out results, she enlisted.

Danny was equipped with a portable radio and a seat high atop the stands. When the horses hit the wire Danny was on the phone with a flash: “2, 3, 6, not official,” came the message. The disseminator was posted high atop Âí­Solana Circle overlooking beautiful Del Mar. When he got the flash he quickly telephoned his office. When the race was official Danny radioed him the results before it even moved on the wire. The Barbary Coast was impressed. So were a lot of the other books when they found out how quickly the Del Mar results were coming in. They began switching service.

The race wire with all the customers couldn’t figure out what was going on. They spread the word that if anyone could find out what was happening there would be a fat cash reward. Leave it to Las Vegas. A couple of desperados went to great lengths to crack the case. They turned it over to track security. For days gendarmes searched the stands. They completely overlooked Apple Annie. However, it didn’t take long for the word to spread that Danny hadn’t been around the books for weeks. One wise guy followed her to Del Mar. He saw her take to her nest and Danny’s stunt was dead.

All these memories came back the other day when I took up summer residence high atop Solana Circle overlooking Del Mar. Everyday going and coming I pass the spot where the disseminator parked.

I remember how the story spread far and wide among the race book operators. They rewarded the disseminator’s cleverness by giving him more and more business. At the end, he won it all and bought his rival out.

As for Apple Annie: “It was the best stunt of them all. I loved it!”