Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
4 user

Dead Heat 

Jessica goes to the races to watch her niece ride the winning horse but then the horse's disagreeable owner is murdered after a dispute.


Peter Crane


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 5 more credits »

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Priscilla Barnes ... Vicky Gallegos
Ramon Bieri ... Pat Phillips
Jack Carter ... Cliff Carpenter
Lonny Chapman ... Jack Bowen
Carole Cook ... Christine Carpenter
Norman Fell ... Vince Shackman
Linda Grovenor ... Tracy MacGill
Clu Gulager ... Mike Gann
Bert Rosario ... Carlos Gallegos
Roy Thinnes ... Lt. Ted Misko
Derrel Maury ... Cookie Milford
Tom Dreesen ... Ernie
Alex Rebar ... Guzmann
Robert Ellenstein ... Mr. P


Under instructions from big boss Tony, local mobster boss Vince Shackman leans heavily on race horse trainer Mike Gann to settle his gambling debts by fixing a race, which takes quite a lot, including making a Panamese illegal jockey be replaced 'sick' by greenhorn Tracy Macgill, a niece of Jessica, who made a stop-over on the way to San Francisco to see her debut. When Tracey is arrested for the tranquilizer gun murder of Jack Bowen, Jessica fears the police won't solve the case and takes crash courses in betting and running a stable while investigating everybody involved, including unethical betting by the track security chief... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

24 November 1985 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The only other instance when Jessica's other brother, Martin, (Tracy's father) is mentioned. See more »


As Jessica leaves the hippodrome, she enters a cab and two men enter it, too. As the car moves on, the boom is seen reflected in the cab's windows. See more »


[first lines]
Bookie #1: Separately, it's peanuts, Vince. Put it together, and we're chokin'.
Bookie #2: How did we know Mike Gann was bettin' all over town?
Vince Shackman: I can add.
See more »


First Call (Call to the Post)
Traditional Bugle Call
At start of horse race.
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User Reviews

Murder at the race track
21 July 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Have always been quite fond of 'Murder She Wrote'. It is a fun and relaxing watch that makes you think as you try to unwind in the evening. If one wants more complex, twisty mysteries with lots of tension and suspense 'Murder She Wrote' may not be for you, but if you want something light-hearted and entertaining but still provide good mysteries 'Murder She Wrote' fits the bill just fine.

"Dead Heat" is a long way from a terrible episode, none of the 'Murder She Wrote' episodes were at this point in the show, but it has never done a huge amount for me and still doesn't. To me, it is a lesser episode of the early seasons while still having enough to partially recommend it. There are many things to like as well as some glaring flaws.

The episode looks good as one would expect from 'Murder She Wrote'. Not sweeping or epic grand in a show that doesn't call for it, but representative of cosy nostalgia and slick style that is very attractive to see and perfect for gentle afternoon/evening television. It's very nicely shot with some nice scenery and attractive, nostalgia-inducing fashions. The music has energy and has presence but also not making the mistake of over-scoring, while it is hard to forget or resist the theme tune.

The writing is tight, thought-provoking and typically amiable, the final solution and how Jessica gets to it are fun enough and most of the cast are fine. Angela Lansbury is her usual terrific self, while Linda Grovenor plays one of the better acted more charming numerous relatives that Jessica has and Carole Cook and Jack Carter class things up a lot.

However, the story itself is not always easy to follow and this would have been solved if it tried to do less and slowed down, parts did feel rushed and over-stuffed.

It's the very amateurish performance of Priscilla Barnes that most brings "Dead Heat" down though, the awfulness of her acting has to be seen to be believed and make one's jaw drop to the floor, one of the few performances of the earlier seasons that screams of amateur hour.

Overall, not awful, not great, just a slightly above-average okay. 6/10 Bethany Cox

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