by Joanna Campbell
Original Publication: 1991
We finally arrive to a book with a sensible title. Wonder's Victory. Pretty clean cut, right? Maybe it spoils the reader a little (Okay, a lot. She's hefting a trophy on the cover and it's about Wonder's victory. This isn't exactly subtle.) But there's more to it than that! Honest.
Here's the cover:
What I find interesting about this cover is the fact that it displays a scene that happened in the previous book (The scene from the winner's circle at the Kentucky Derby, indicated by the roses and all). Ashleigh's wearing that pants suit that was supposed to make her look older but instead makes her look like what I presume Laura Bush looked like when she was 14. She's also got some strange earrings that remind me of clip on jewelry my grandmother used to wear. And I don't know what's going on with the bow, turtle neck or weird bangs situation. It's just one ugly outfit. I can no longer look at it.
What this summary fails to inform us of is the main point of the plot. Someone is deliberately spooking Wonder! Thus Wonder goes all nuts in most of her races and throws Jilly in the middle of the race and therefore forces Ashleigh to enter her jockey career a little early. Because Wonder's so freaking spoiled she can't fathom having a male jockey on her back. God forbid.Ashleigh's determined to make her dreams come true...
In her second year of racing, Wonder, the Thoroughbred filly Ashleigh Griffen has helped raise, is the star of Townsend Acres Stables -- until the worst happens.
Just as Wonder is about to start training for the important Breeder's Cup race, Jilly, Wonder's regular jockey, is injured and can't ride. Wonder doesn't like any other jockey, and she won't perform.
Only one person can ride Wonder now, and that's Ashleigh. She's never ridden in a race, but she's Townsend Acres' only hope. Can Ashleigh's dreams and Wonder's trust carry these two unlikely contestants into the winner's circle?
Brad! Really, he's like a secondary plotline in every book. Only now he's evil! Which is an extra bonus. However, the tension is still there with Ashleigh, and since we've added Mike into the equation Brad's reaction is pretty classic.
Ashleigh's budding sexuality. Yes, I said that. Mike is around a lot, and he's inviting her places, and wow if that isn't confusing for her. But no! He's just a friend! Or no, maybe he's not. Maybe he like likes her. Then you have Brad over there taunting her and asking her about her boyfriend while she pouts and says, "He's not my boyfriend!" It is torture. Also it has occurred to me that this looks like it could be a scene right out of Wildfire, only that show's rich jackass character gets more out of the deal.
- Brad is wearing an "expensive" slicker. Where did he get this slicker? 5th Avenue? Is it made of gold? *ponders*
- *snickers* Mike comes by after the Preakness to say hello and Brad makes some disparaging comment about Ashleigh giving her boyfriend free tours of the farm. What does Ashleigh do? She insists he's not her boyfriend. To Brad? Then they do some tit for tat snipping at each other. Really, if they weren't 15 and 18 I'd be yelling at them to get a room at this point.
- Are there no bay horses left in Kentucky? Even Mike's horses are gray and black. Black. BLACK. Jazzman is the third rare black Thoroughbred mentioned in the series and we're only on book 4. *rolls eyes*
- Sure, Mike wants Ashleigh to try out Jazzman on the training oval despite her not wearing proper footwear. Can we say liability?
- I love how Ashleigh has to compare Mike's riding style to Brad's. This is becoming some sort of weird allusion that I am all about giggling over. Like a twelve-year-old on a caffeine rush, I tell ya.
- Someone needs to inform Ms. Campbell that motels are not "fancy." No one pulls up to their motel in a limo. Especially not in New York City.
- So, Brad is the only one acting like this is a personal contest, is he? One of Ashleigh's primary motivations was never to one up Brad, was it? Oh no. She'd never think of it.
- The first instance of stepping all over real horses and real records! *so excited* Wonder wins the Belmont in stakes record time, does she? The stakes record is 2:24 set by Secretariat, which is also the world record for a mile and a half. Research, Ms. Campbell! Although, knowing our luck (and the series's own track record) she did research it and thought that was fantastic to include. Because all of Ashleigh's horses not only win big races, they set records, damn it! No one had best criticize them ever again! (And you might say, "But Mara, this is fiction! Perhaps Secretariat does not exist in the Thoroughbred Series!" And I will say, "Oh, you just wait. Juuuust wait.")
- Yeah, there's a good reason to go with Mike to the Junior Prom. To rub it in other girls' faces. Go, Ashleigh!
- "'Yay!' Linda and Caro bounced up and down on the beds." ...oh my God.
- Okay, someone needs to lead Caroline away from the combs. If she's not using them in her hair she's inflicting them on Ashleigh. It must be stopped!
- Now Mike is in a white suit. I'm sorry, Mike...it just doesn't work for you.
- Why does everyone go on and on about Mike being popular and Ashleigh being this strange creature no one gets? She hangs out with Jennifer, prettiest ninth grader in school. Doesn't that make her popular by association?
- So Brad takes a horse tearing around the trails and nearly causes an accident when his girlfriend breaks it off with him in public. Everyone treats Brad like the devil because of this. Caroline takes a car out and tears around on the road and careens into a tree after Brad merely shows up in her presence at a racetrack and everyone is all "oh, poor Caroline." Double standard, much?
- Jazzman wins his first race and before Ashleigh knows it Brad is cornering her in the barn and asking her about her "boyfriend's colt" and something about free information Mike's getting around Townsend Acres. Ashleigh responds again that Mike is not her boyfriend. The sexual tension hurts. me. so. much. *smacks head against keyboard*
- So Jilly witnesses this weird sexually charged (yes, I can read into it all I like, thank you) exchange and asks what it's all about. What Ashleigh said is glossed over and Jilly responds, "The only thing good that guy's got going for him is looks and a rich daddy...and he does know how to ride a horse." What the hell?
- "She ended up pulling her shoulder and bruising her ankle the last time Brad rode her." "Yeah, but not all guys ride her like Brad." (Twelve-year-old me high on caffeine is giggling like mad right now.)
- Two sentences that do not go together: "I sure hope they catch that guy and find out what he thought he was doing! Hey, before you leave, how about signing my cast?"
- So says Craig of riding Wonder: "We're not connecting. She's a nice filly, beautiful movement, but she doesn't want to put out for me." (Twelve-year-old me is in hysterics right now, plus I think I'm now justified in reading into all the comparisons between Mike and Brad's riding styles.)
- It's a sting operation, Thoroughbred style! (and I don't know how I feel about Mike and Charlie deliberately sending Ashleigh away for the whole thing. oh, the poor girl can't be in on it, of course. way to start a trusting relationship, Mike.)
- Okay, kids. Here's the moral of the story: never gamble. You'll become a backstabbing tool for the mob if you do!
- Clay Townsend doesn't know how he was so blind about Mr. Jennings' character. Clay, you specialize in not being able to judge character. If memory serves, you really suck at it.
- The Daily Racing Form reporter already has his column written for a horse race in which Wonder is by no means the favorite, is being ridden by a jockey who's ridden in one race, and is kind of spooked enough to be a little crazy race time? Talk about a premonition or a waste of time.
- Yes, Wonder beat Charade in the last book. Funny how her name was spelled Charad then.
- After the Classic I can just see Brad stalking off to consume a whole fifth of whiskey.
- More whinnies of approval!
- And, just as an after thought, it's Breeders' Cup not Breeder's Cup. Because there's more than one breeder churning out Thoroughbreds for our racing pleasure.