CHAPTER FOUR
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By Sean Clancy
From The Saratoga Special, reprinted with permission

"Well, this ain't bad at all, Slim. Look we got a view and Pegleg like it here. I can see it in his eyes. Look at him, he knows where he's is, right where he belongs, at the big top, Slim. The big top. He's all settled in like he been here before. You ever bring him here before? I swear he knows this ain't the fair circuit no more."

"He might know where he is, I‚ll give you that, but sure as god made little green apples, that won‚t help when he lines up with the lions, tigers and bears they have up here. What worries me, is he hadn't been fit for so long 'cause of that tendon, I don‚t know how we can even get him to the races, much less worrying about winning or getting a check big enough to get home on. I wish I could train the horse the way I want, but that leg training this horse. You know what I mean? That leg calling the shots, not me. I ought to enter him with Right Damn Tendon as trainer."

"Well, we'll take him out tomorrow and see if he‚s sound. He had his time off and now we can get him ready the way we want. We‚ll mix up some more of that paint that yer ol friend say make em all run fast, jump high. We can start that up again tonight. We'll paint the leg, ice the leg, massage the leg, rub the leg, spit and polish the leg til that thing done making him prance like a circus horse."

"Roy, you sure can dream with the best of them. I hate to agree with you, but that eye of his has does look a little brighter since we came here. He stares out that back window all day long, just watches the fans funnel off East Avenue and into the track. Today's his third day off and tomorrow we'll see how he comes out of the stall, maybe he won't be so damn crotchety after the change of scenery, the paint, and the vacation. I hate to say it, Roy, but damned if I don't get out of bed a little looser here. Don't know what it is but my legs swing to the floor like they haven;t done in years and years."

"Yeah, and just think, we ain't even tried the tingly water yet. Whippeee Youu. Wait to we bottle that up and start downing that every morning. Pegleg'll add 10 yards to his stride, those old boots of yours will be skipping down Union Avenue. Hell, Doughty might even go to runnin."

"Ease up there, Roy. Don‚t get ahead of yourself. Have you been over to see Hop Tomkins‚ shed? They don‚t need potion, tingly water, or miracles. They got horseflesh over there that look like it come out of a museum. Wonder if they'll write me a race, for horses that look nothin like Kentucky bluebloods. We'd be the favorite in that one. Maybe the only horse in the race, ol Pegleg would make us proud in that one."

"Pegleg gonna make us proud in any way we go, I swear by that. I got a good feeling, Slim. What about tomorrow? We find a saddle yet? I can ride him bareback but, damn, it‚d be nice to have a saddle and a pad for his back. The bridle we brought, I keep soakin it with that old man's oil from down the shedrow but I afraid of rubbin too hard for it might come all undone in my hand. You have any money, Slim? I mean any at all?"

"Roy, you see me all day everyday, unless they dropping money from these old dusty rafters, then no I got no money, no way of making money, and no way of spending money. I told you to find a job before or after we train Pegleg. The only thing I see we could do is start selling this sweet corn for a penny an ear, maybe we‚d find enough to buy a sandwich once a week."

"You know what we need, Slim? A betting horse. We ought to go up to the rail every morning and start clocking like they did in the old days. We can find a horse we like, borrow the money, and score a big score. What do you say, Slim? Then we wouldn‚t have to worry if Pegleg gets to the races or not, we'd have our drinking money and anything Pegleg does is a bonus. Now that's the way to go, Slim. Slim. You're not even listening to me, Slim. Look at you, what are you doing?"

"Drifting, all right. I‚m drifting. Let me be sometimes. Can‚t you see that I'm thinking about stuff. You think training horses is just filling out set lists, remembering to enter, remembering to scratch, getting the right jock...truth is you always thinking about it. Hear me. Always. I never rest, just think, think, think. If I do this, would it help. Should I wind him up or settle him down. Blinkers, tongue tie, or figure eight. Toe grabs, blocks, or plates. I‚m telling you Roy, it's all day, all night. Even when I'm eating that damn corn of yours, I'm thinking about all that needs to be done, don't even see the rows on the ear."

Contact Sean Clancy via e-mail at sean@thesaratogaspecial.com or telephone at 518-581-1947.

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