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After his veteran horse, War Paint, comes in last in a race, Pop Williams vows to auction the horse. War Paint's jockey and trainer, young Tim Turner, quits and tries to talk delicatessen owner Papa Gambini, the father of his friend Tony, to buy the horse, but Papa refuses. Tim then visits W. R. Hastings, a wealthy horseman known for his success in bringing old horses back as stake winners, and offers to work for nothing for Hastings if he buys the horse. Hastings, who is impressed with Tim's knowledge and remembers his father, who was a great rider, sends his secretary, Marion Clark, to the auction to bid for the horse. When the auctioneer puts War Paint in with six other horses that Williams is selling, Marion, flustered, is outbid by Matt Kerry, an Irish-American policeman, who buys the group for his department. Hastings, it turns out, had arranged for War Paint to lose the earlier race by having Swipe, a boy who works at the track, give the horse a lot of water; Hastings then planned to make a killing with the horse in the upcoming Cloverdale Handicap. He now is angry with Marion, but he plans to get the horse at a later date. Tim is upset because he thinks that it is demeaning for War Paint to be a police horse. However, when he sees Matt effectively control the horse after Sport Fields, who works for Hastings, instructs a cab to backfire near the horse, Tim tells Matt he is glad War Paint has someone like him. Tony invites Matt to dinner at the delicatessen, and Matt brings Marion, with whom he has become infatuated. Later, Tim sees Sport drive a motorcycle in front of the horse and throw powder in its face. As War Paint tips over a cart and throws Matt, Tim chases Swipe, who was with Sport, and tackles him in an alley. Swipe reveals Hastings' plan and says that Sport and Marion are in on it. After learning that Matt has suffered a concussion, Tim overhears an officer say that War Paint should be shot. With Tony's help, Tim then substitutes Papa's horse Betsy for War Paint. When Tim visits Matt in the hospital, he finds Marion there and tells of Hastings' scheme and Marion's part in it. Marion walks out disturbed, and when the police find that War Paint is in Papa's stall, Marion reveals that she bought the horse from the police. She tells Tim that she is through with Hastings and really cares about Matt and asks Tim to ride the horse. They keep the horse at Papa's stall and train him early in the morning in the park so that Hastings will not locate them, while Marion works as a waitress at the deli to earn money for the entry fee. Sport finds out about the workouts, and one morning comes to the park with another mug. After slugging Tim, Sport takes the horse; however, Tim had substituted Betsy for War Paint. On the day of the Cloverdale Handicap, two police officers, not knowing that their radio microphone is on, repeat Matt's tip to bet on War Paint if he ever raced again. Officers throughout the city overhear the conversation and place bets on War Paint. Matt also hears the "broadcast" and leaves the hospital. After Sport's mug kidnaps Tim, Matt calls in a report, and when the police learn that War Paint's jockey is missing, they go on alert. Seeing the kidnapper's car go through a stop sign, the police chase it, and it goes over an embankment. The police rush Tim to the track, and although he is hurt, he wins the race before collapsing. Later, in the deli, Papa sings, as Matt is happy with Marion, and Tim feeds War Paint and Betsy.