by Karen Bentley
Publication Date: 1997
So let's start off this installment. Glory's Rival -- the book that worked toward an event that never happened. I greatly dislike when authors do this. They spend the majority of the book dwelling on the great point of conflict, lose their nerve entirely, give us an unexpected and shoddy ending, and we're left feeling cheated. Cheated, I say! Cheated.
I don't have a whole lot to say about this cover other than the motion is a little stagnant. Glory and Shining look like they could very well be plodding along into a head wind. I do find the crops interesting, given that Glory is whip shy. Then there's the expressions. Does anyone find amusement in this? The look Samantha is shooting Cindy, who's completely oblivious to everything besides this driven need to stare straight forward, is priceless. It pretty much sums up their relationship, I think.
One point that has me interested here is the suggestion that Cindy will write off Samantha if Shining raced against and (God forbid) beat Glory. She's deciding between her friendship or making sure Glory wins, odd things to decide between because it seems to me one can do both. The implication that Cindy has to decide irks me.Will Shining ruin Glory's chance for victory?Cindy Blake wants Glory to win the Breeders' Cup Classic more than she's ever wanted anything in her life. A win will make him a legend like his famous grandsire, Just Victory. Cindy has been training Glory for months, and she's determined to show the world what a winner he truly is.
But Cindy wasn't counting on the fact that Samantha McLean would enter her horse, Shining, in the same race. Shining has beaten colts before, and it's possible she could steal the trophy right out from under Glory's nose.
Now Cindy has to decide which is more important to her: keeping her friendship with Samantha or making sure Glory wins the biggest race of his career!
Maybe it doesn't matter if Shining does run -- I really think Glory will win it no matter what. So why don't I feel good about that? (Cindy, page 48-49). This really sums up the book. Cindy worries that Shining will run against Glory, Cindy thinks Glory is really the better horse, Cindy wants Glory to win by a mile and set a new track/world record. Then she feels bad about wanting said things. This continues until Samantha tells her she's entering Shining in the Distaff.
I don't think we have to worry about her too much anymore. ( Cindy, page 195) Ashleigh & Co. bury the hatchet with Brad and Lavinia. This pretty much writes them out of the series instead of creating an interesting dynamic I would have liked to see, especially since Brad's training with Glory pretty much won Whitebrook their Breeders' Cup Classic. Yup, seems crazy, but it happened. I swear it. In any case, say goodbye to the Townsends. We won't be seeing them for a while.
- Ashleigh actually looks at Wonder's Champion and says out loud, "I think he'll be Whitebrook's first Triple Crown winner." Oh. Really?
- Shining has a comparison to Ruffian. Yeah, I don't see it.
- Cindy's hopes for Glory not only include a victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic, she wants him to break the track or world record for a mile and a quarter. Is demanding he win not enough now?
- The amount of sentences that start with "Cindy knew" is starting to annoy me. Lavinia can live at Townsend Acres and soak up the horsey atmosphere for years and still be accused of being clueless; Cindy can spend one year at Whitebrook and she knows all, including how to train a yearling.
- Of course the popular cheerleader crowd would be envious of Cindy. They sit with Cindy and Heather at lunch and this leads to a whole session of Cindy bragging and occasionally feeling bad about it. This, naturally, doesn't stop the bragging. Then she starts into the advice on riding technique, because Cindy is right and perfect ALWAYS. DO NOT QUESTION CINDY, damn it.
- The popular girls suggest doing this three times a week, or something, and Cindy thinks it's a fabulous idea. Of course she does. It's a willing audience.
- Heather always looked a little scared on a horse. Since when? Poor little Heather really became the shy, stupid, scared, pathetic foil for Cindy, didn't she?
- Heather endeavors to say that she hopes Mandy will teach her, I don't know, technique or something and Cindy immediately shoots off, "you can't be the best at everything." Seriously. Bitch.
- I'm trying to decipher Brad and Ashleigh's argument over Glory's schedule when Ashleigh finally tells him Lavinia has no clue, squashing Lavinia's feelings and making her run off in a teary mess. But then Bentley goes back into this made up history where Brad had Wonder whipped and I just roll my eyes and move on.
- Cindy takes the time to ponder to herself that Glory will be running against all the other horses who have ever won the Breeders' Cup and she wants to win against all of them. Fiercely. I don't know what the motivation is here for Bentley's desire to make Glory "the best" horse in the series by theoretically pitting him against every past horse and suggesting Wonder and her progeny are unsound, but it's juvenile and makes me cranky.
- Ashleigh says Mr. Wonderful is technically a two-year-old, and then goes on to mention he was born in May. That doesn't "technically" make him a two-year-old. It makes him two. You can say he's younger than the other horses, since he was born in May, but you can't imply he's actually younger than two when he actually is two.
- Karen Bentley really loves writing the following scene: horse and rider are on the track, getting ready for breeze/full out run/whatever, and just as the horse finds its high gear the sun comes out of the clouds and spills light all over the track and makes the horse all glittery! The cosmos and the Whitebrook horses are clearly aligned.
- Samantha notes that Glory and Flightful are closers. Like this is an interesting fact, or something. Only I can't recall Glory ever actually closing in a race. This is accented by the fact that in the race both horses jump to the lead and start a speed duel. Um, Karen, honey, I think we need to take a look at our horse racing terminology.
- Cindy cries, "he's going to run a Just Victory race!" Mike asks, "What?" Right there with you, Mike.
- Can we just call Wonder's Champion a liver chestnut and get it over with? All this brown/chestnut description is driving me a little nuts.
- Wow, Karen Bentley actually got a fact down that Joanna never managed to figure out: racehorses do use both leads during a race. Joanna seemed to be under the impression that they just ran on their left lead all or most of time, which would never happen. Just sayin'.
- It's so great being in charge at the farm, Cindy thought...who the hell gave her charge of the farm? More importantly, why?
- During Cindy's stint as farm manager, or whatever, Brad shows up and decides that he wants to see Mr. Wonderful breeze. First he has Cindy ride the horse around, and then when she refuses to run him faster Brad does the breeze. I'd like to say this is the silliest moment in Bentley's tenure, but that wouldn't be true. It is, however, the most unexplainable evil thing the Townsends were ever pushed into doing by an author. So kudos, Karen!
- It also strikes me that everyone goes to brunch just a little too much in Karen Bentley's books. These characters don't really strike me as the brunch kind, to top it all off.
- Ashleigh's all broken up about Brad galloping Mr. Wonderful, but strangely the first things out of her mouth are: "I should have never given the Townsends a half interest in Glory." As if that would have stopped their interest in the horse they owned already.
- Ashleigh goes off to talk to Brad about his romp around with Mr. Wonderful and he walks all over her. Like, walked all over to the point where she could have saved herself the trip to Townsend Acres and shrugged Brad's actions off as expected instead. But then we wouldn't learn that Brad wasn't the one who had Glory ponied in the Jockey Club Gold Cup! Dun dun DUN! The plot thickens....
- Mandy freaks out after being disqualified from her show, and Cindy's monologue cuts in to inform us that Mandy's lost sight of everything except winning, like Cindy's actually learning a lesson or something.
- Oh sure, now everyone worries about Cindy and Storm's combined inexperience being a "lethal combination." After 110 pages of Cindy training Storm practically by herself.
- Great, we're back to Lunch Time Riding Advice featuring Cindy Blake/McLean! What's today's advice, kids? Well, Laura seems to have forgotten how to balance herself properly in the saddle, despite exercising racehorses every morning for her father, whom you'd figure was a highly knowledgeable person to talk to! What's the answer, Cindy? ... Put the stirrup on the balls of your feet when you ride? Why, it's amazing! Doing what every beginner learns in their first lesson actually does work! Thanks, Cindy Blake/McLean! You've saved the day! (Please let these stupid lunch time chat sessions end. Please, please, pretty please.)
- Glory and Cindy have some serious co-dependency going on.
- Samantha and Cindy have their heart-to-heart where Cindy supposedly learns her lesson about not always being able to win, and I don't think she gets it. At all. Proof being when she says at the very end of the conversation: "Won't it be incredible when Glory wins the Classic and Shining wins the Distaff?" *cough* Yeah. Sure. Lesson learned.
- Plus, she never apologized to Samantha. Karen seems to think an apology was in there somewhere, but it wasn't. At all.
- Lavinia says, "see you in the winner's circle" after a completely non-evil visit and Heather questions if Lavinia is trying to sound like a horseperson. Yes, Heather. Only people directly involved with training horses can say "see you in the winner's circle." That would out you, however. So shut up.
- I find this very abnormal: Brad's apparently been training Glory, resulting in what Ashleigh admits is a "very fit horse." Implying that Brad has done a large measure of good. Then Cindy asks if the Townsends are going to ruin Glory's race. It's interesting watching an author at war with herself.
- No, Ashleigh. No one is going to count Glory's drugged up race as a win. It's counted as a disqualification. Hence he's disqualified. I know it's hard to wrap your brain around, but intentional or not he was drugged. Live with it.
- Yay! More sleeping at the track! Let's get the cots!
- Cindy goes to visit the Secretariat statue at Belmont and muses that Glory is one of "them" now. Gotta enjoy the little tidbits of foreshadowing before Bentley rips into history.
- Yes. Cindy doesn't care at all about winning. La la la winning? What? It's not like she mentions how she thinks Glory's going to win three times in two pages...no, not at all. She's totally over her obsession now. *rolls eyes, moves on*
- Cindy wonders if Samantha isn't nervous because she gave herself the talk she gave Cindy. Perhaps she cared too much about winning too. Somehow, I really doubt that. Stop dragging Samantha down, Bentley. Screw around with your own character.
- Let's all groom Shining! Yay! Group grooming!
- Wow. In the course of two pages we learn that Lavinia, not Brad, had Glory ponied in the Gold Cup, and then she only did it because she thought she was helping. Then Ashleigh admits that she was wrong about a lot of things concerning the Townsends. They're, like, so great! There you have it, folks. The two pages (184-185, for anyone interested) that clears Brad of all wrong doing since book 1 and effectively writes them out of the series until Racing Parker.
- The way Bentley just throws out these giant numbers has me so confused. The Classic reads like it's fairly close. Perhaps Glory is winning the race by a few lengths at most, and is drawing away. Then suddenly it's 20 lengths. Exclamation Point! Out of no where.
- So Glory wins by thirty lengths in the Breeders' Cup Classic, sets a world record for a mile and a quarter, and wins Horse of the Year all at once. I don't see a reference to thirty-one lengths, actually, but in any case it's ridiculous. That it happens at Belmont is all the worse. It's like spitting on Secretariat's accomplishments while at the same time trying to hold him up as the best in the sport. It just doesn't work that way.
The second biggest thing: I really wanted Shining to beat Glory. Simply put.
Next up: more tragedy, and this time love doesn't save the day!