Characters abound in the gambling world, at least they used to. One we definitely remember was Eileen DiRocco’s friend, Prince Nagim “The Moose” Mousa, or “Big Moose” to some. We don’t remember a time in the 40 years we knew him that he was anything but happy and upbeat.

Moose was an avid horse player by day and a cab driver at night – although he referred to himself as a transportation executive. He always used his cab but rarely ran the meter. Especially for his friends and in particular top handicapper Allen “Black Cat” Lacombe.

He also was a bit of a prankster and on one trip to the track with Black Cat, he casually reached over, putting his hand on the cab’s lever, as if to push it down and start the meter. Black cat, who had been engrossed in the daily racing form, immediately shouted, “What are you doing!” Moose very seriously explained that he was behind on fares for the week and needed to make up for it. Of course the meter remained off.

Moose was also a big flirt with the ladies and freely handed out compliments to them. When friends asked why he never married he replied, “I want to enjoy all the girls.”

But horses were his first love and remained so right to the end. He went to the race track daily for many years. As he got older and transportation was more difficult, he settled for an old OTB parlor on weekends. Even upon falling and breaking his leg, he made sure someone brought him a racing form each day. “That way I’ll know who to bet when I get back to the OTB.” One Saturday, when he was ready to return to the races, he told the folks at the old age home where he resided that he was a bit tired and wanted to take a nap first. And so, at the tender age of 96, Big Moose drifted off to sleep and on to the big race track in the sky. Rest in peace my friend, you will surely be missed.