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New York bookie Sorrowful Jones runs his "horse room" from behind a false wall in a Broadway barber shop. When gangster Big Steve Holloway's horse Dreamy Joe makes a surprise win, Sorrowful reluctantly pays his customers, all of whom had bet on the horse. That night, Sorrowful arrives at Big Steve's nightclub for a meeting and is surprised to find all the local bookies gathered together. Big Steve reveals to them that he fixed the race by giving Dreamy Joe a "speedball," and now demands a $1,000 payment from each bookie in exchange for notifying them in advance when Dreamy Joe will lose or win. Before the next race, Sorrowful accepts bets on Dreamy Joe, although he knows the horse will lose. Against his own rules, he even accepts a marker from Orville Smith, who leaves his four-year-old daughter Martha Jane as collateral. Orville is killed by Big Steve and his henchman, Once Over Sam, after intercepting a phone call in his office and learning about Big Steve's subterfuge. When Orville does not return for Martha Jane, Sorrowful's partner, Regret, insists that Sorrowful take Martha Jane home for the night. The next day, Sorrowful's former girl friend, burlesque performer Gladys O'Neill, comes by to help take care of the girl. Big Steve also visits and reveals that the racing commission is investigating him. In order to make a final win with Dreamy Joe, Big Steve transfers ownership of the horse to Martha Jane, and plans to drug the horse at the next race, which will kill it. Later, Orville's body is found floating in the East River, and Sorrowful learns that the little girl's mother is also dead. Unaware of Big Steve's set-up, Gladys insists that Sorrowful give Martha Jane all of Dreamy Joe's winnings if he should win the next race, or else she will turn him in to the police. Big Steve soon discovers that Martha Jane is Orville's daughter and seeks to get rid of her, but Sorrowful hides her on a fire escape and refuses to allow Big Steve or Sam to take her. Martha Jane falls from the fire escape and is hospitalized, and while she is in a coma, she calls out for Dreamy Joe. Desperate to save the little girl, Sorrowful and Regret steal Dreamy Joe from the racetrack and bring the horse into Martha Jane's hospital room. The horse's whinny awakens Martha Jane out of her coma just as police detective Reardon arrests Big Steve and Sam for Orville's murder. When Reardon suggests that Martha Jane will be placed in an orphanage, Sorrowful proposes to Gladys, and they marry, and spend their honeymoon taking their newly adopted daughter Martha Jane to an arcade.