As youths in Azusa, Vinnie, Carter, and Rosie pull off a racing scam, substituting winners for plodders and winning big bucks on long odds. When an official uncovers the scam, they set him up for blackmail. Jump ahead twenty years, Carter and Rosie are married, successful racers in Kentucky about to sell their prize stallion, Simpatico. Vinnie is a drunk in Pomona. Vinnie decides to make a play for Rosie, lures Carter to California, steals his wallet and heads for Kentucky with the original blackmail material. Carter begs Vinnie's friend, a grocery clerk named Cecilia, to follow Vinnie and get the stuff back that he has in a box. Will she succeed?
The Horatio Alger parable gets the film noir treatment with the redoubtable Edmund O’Brien as a whip-smart telephone technician who moves up the ladder of a Syndicate gambling empire in Southern California until distracted by an inconveniently married Joanne Dru and his own greed.
Frankie Reynolds (Frankie Darro' ), youngest member of a family of jockeys, borrows $4.85 (yes, four dollars and eighty-five cents) from his sister Phyllis (Gladys Blake), who is not a jockey, to buy a crippled colt from the stables owned by Clay Harrison (Kane Richmond).