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Horse Racing at Del Mar with Felix Taverna

Written by: Bill Krackomberger
Updated January 5, 2023
11 min read

It’s episode 128 of Wise Kracks and we’re kicking off 2023 with a one-of-kind guest!

Your hosts Bill Krackomberger and Jon Orlando are joined by Felix Taverna, a columnist and radio talk show host who loves horse racing, football, and basketball.

Felix chats with the guys and has a lot to say about how he got into horse racing, playing high school basketball in small-town Ohio, and working his way into the then-San Diego Clippers organization. All of this and more on this week’s episode of Wise Kracks!

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Tony Orlando & Dawn… and Felix Taverna?

“I saw Tony Orlando back in the day… what an icon!”

It’s always a treat for Jon to hear someone admiring the talent that is his father Tony Orlando. Felix can’t stop with the praises, “He was never not able to entertain… and trust me, I know what entertainment is all about!” It’s no lie; Felix has spent most of his life entertaining in one form or another, either as a disc jockey or as a talk radio host. 

Felix keeps the compliments coming, “You could tell he was such a giving person… he was for the people, and I can feel that he’s passed that character onto you, Jon!” Did Jon blush? You’ll have to tune in to find out!

Felix has always felt that music was a big part of his life. He would go to the Del Mar fair often, and this is where he saw Tony & Dawn perform. In fact, Felix was so moved by Tony Orlando & Dawn’s performance, that he wanted to get up on stage with them, “I wanted to be a member of Dawn, I wanted to sing!” Bill shares a hearty laugh with Jon, “C’mon, how much would your dad love this guy!

Steubenville, OH: Where Basketball Junkies Roam

Felix has a passion for talking about basketball. It didn't come out of nowhere, “I was always a basketball junkie.” He tells the guys that he has always fashioned his game after “Pistol Pete” Maravich, a shooting guard who played out his career playing for the Utah Jazz.

When he was younger, he went to a high school in Steubenville, Ohio as a walk-on basketball player, “We were the Steubenville Big Reds.” For a young 18-year-old roaming the streets of Steubenville, there were some sights to be seen, “I remember when I met my first friend there, and we drove to this Italian restaurant.”

Now, this wasn’t just any restaurant; this was a wise guys’ hangout, “I was seeing these guys with no necks and beautiful suits… they were all named Tony or No Knuckles, and I was always wondering what they did!”

Bill knows a thing or two about these types of guys, but he also knows how crazy Ohio is about football, “My dad was raised in Southwest Ohio, and football was everything.” Bill also notes that people didn’t gamble in Ohio, at least not openly, “I think there might be a connection here with these wise guys…”

Felix would attest to that, “A lot of these people were traveling just to gamble.” He then explains that there would be certain places where these people would hang out, “It was always held at an Italian club… 7 card stud was the only game!”

Jon has one pressing question about these card rooms, “Did cops really raid these things?” Felix answers, “Nah, those card rooms were all controlled, the cops were all paid off!”

Horse Racing Betting is NOT a Sin

If Felix likes to talk about anything, it’s horse racing. How did he get into horse racing, you might ask? Now that’s a funny story. Felix recounts, “I had never been to a track prior to coming to California.”

This surprises Jon and Bill, and Felix goes on, “I used to clean the car for the Father of a church, and I would see tickets strewn about in there.” Eventually, Felix’s younger self realized what they were, “They were winning place tickets, and the Father of the church is what got me to the track!”

Later in his career, Felix got called up to interview horse jockeys for Prime Ticket, and a thoroughbred horse racing show. This only amplified his interest in the horse racing game, and eventually, it led to betting, “Racing and sports betting, I always thought there should be a crossover.” Bill knows all too well about betting horses, “Everyone thinks they can beat horse racing, but you just can’t.”

Felix carries on, “They will comp every other bettor, but they will never comp a horse player!” Bill nods, “Although, it can get tough… horses have broken many a good man.” 

Felix wants to know about Bill and Jon’s experience with horse racing, “Have you guys ever been to Del Mar?” The guys reply unanimously, “Of course, plenty of times!” Felix hones in, “But what about opening day?” Jon smiles, “Opening day is the best.”

Felix concurs, “That’s a piece of history right there, I always love to hear how it started all the way back in 1938.” To Felix, horse racing has always been more than just betting, “It’s the beauty of the game, the pageantry, and the horses… they’re beautiful creatures and without them, we wouldn’t have society as we do today if you think about it.” The more this writer thinks about this statement, the more he can’t escape how profoundly true that is.

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Catch Wise Kracks Thursday on YouTube

Welcome to Wise Kracks, your best bet for all things betting, pop culture, tips & more! Your hosts Jon Orlando and Bill Krackomberger get into the NHL, NBA, MLB, & the NFL, while having a total blast. 

A new guest joins the show every week to share incredible stories from the world of sports and entertainment.

Wise Kracks wants you to be the best bettor you can be, and Bill is the man to take you there. Catch a new episode of Wise Kracks every Thursday by tuning into the WSN YouTube channel!

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Bill Krackomberger

182 Articles

Billy “Krackman” Krackomberger has made his living as a professional sports gambler for nearly three decades. You have seen him on ESPN, Gaming Today, and SiriusXM. His connections in the sports gambling industry run all the way to the top. His bets move the lines and regularly have him banned from books for being too sharp. Email: [email protected]

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