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In The Godfather by M. Puso I come across the phrase 'all the horses'. Apparently, the horses themselves doesn't meantion there. The context is the following:

Sonny made a violent gesture. "I know I'm not the man he was. But I'll tell you this and he'll tell you too. When it comes to real action I can operate as good as anybody, short-range. Sollozzo knows that ad so do Clemenza and Tessio, I 'made my bones' when I was nineteen, the last time the Family had a war, and I was a big help to the old man. So I'm not worried now. And our family has all the horses in a deal like this.

Could you explain the meaning of the entire sentence?

  • Maybe it's been used to mean horsepower i.e. effective strength. – Khan Nov 5 '14 at 4:43
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And our family has all the horses in a deal like this.

It's clear from the context what he means:

And our family has all the advantages in a deal like this.

But the origin of the expression is unclear to me.

The speaker may allude to a horse race in which all the participating horses belong to one owner, meaning he will benefit regarless of which horse comes first.

Or he may allude to the process of horsetrading, often used idiomatically to refer to negotiations fraught with difficulties and deceit.

Or he may mean it in the military sense: in the old days, the side having more horses, that is, a more powerful cavalry, was at an advantage. Imagine the advantage achieved by the side that has all the horses (meaning, the other side has none).

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