Excerpt

New Horse Racing Novel

Excerpt From
"Libraries, Yellow Cheese Sandwiches and 38,880 Running Lines"
Part 29 A PICK 6 TO PLAY, FINALLY

And now, pacing around the simulcast room like a 17th century monastery student, I was shaken from my trance of self-analysis by race caller Trevor Denman. The Mitchell-Stevens horse figured to race near the lead and my favorite longshot rider Joy Scott, needed a fast early pace because her come-from-behinder need the leaders to tire from the fast early going.
The first quarter time came up 22 seconds flat, fast for six and a half furlongs. The fast pace would benefit Joy Scott’s horse, which seemed to be running relaxed in the back of the field, keeping near the rail to save ground, at least 15 lengths back, which would give her horse a 25-second first quarter, slow enough for lots of reserved energy.

Gary Stevens had not moved a muscle, while waiting to get through the turn on Mike Mitchell’s horse.
Joy Scott was on the rail with fifteen lengths to make up. I glanced at the tote board; her odds were 99/1.The tote board only goes up to 99/1. She could have had odds of 150/1.

I tried to spot my other trifecta horses. Until now I had foregone exactas in this type of race and been rewarded by concentrating on the trifectas so that I could go deep with filler-horses.

I spotted Joy Scott. She was into the stretch, still on the rail. One of my backup trifecta horses was blocking her in. She was waiting; she could have tried to muscle her way to the outside, but she chose to wait.

Two of my horses were up front and two were toast. I had three left to fill the trifecta, Mitchell’s, Scott’s and a horse that ran consistently but usually hung for second or third, without winning.

Joy Scott found the seam and whacked her horse right handed. She wanted him to move. Now! He started motoring. Joy asked the horse to change leads and he did, and then she switched the whip to the left and whacked him again.

There were only five horses that had a chance to land in the trifecta and I had three of them.

When a horse jumps into full stride, only one leg hits the ground at a time. The push off from the back legs, with the front legs landing one, two then the back legs landing three, four are what creates that stride and rhythm. This was the way Joy Scott’s horse looked. When that long reaching stride does not shorten up and the horse is closing on front-runners, this is what gets many of us horseplayers cheering, especially when the tote board says our horse has no chance. Joy Scott and her horse should have had zero chance at 99/1.

Mike Mitchell’s horse gained the lead in deep stretch but the crowd in the simulcast room seemed to be focusing on the 99/1 horse, deep-down-inside rooting for the impossible longshot, like the 1969 Mets.

Joy threw the rains out to the side of the horse’s head twice and then went back to the scrub as she gained on Mike Mitchell’s horse. Jockey Gary Stevens sensed he had to keep his horse running and turned sideways and with the whip popped his horse around ten times not hard just fast.

The simulcast room was in an all-out roar. To me the last twenty-five feet were in slow motion as Joy Scott closed with each stride. And it is confirmed that psychological time moves more slowly than chronological times in moments of great drama.

Joy Scott and Gary Stevens hit the line together.

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