by Karen Bentley
Originally Published: 1996
I warn you now. It's long.
It appears that the artist of this cover is under some misapprehension. Glory does not win the Kentucky Derby in this book or, in fact, ever. Even though the cover is desperately trying to suggest as such with the red roses, giant freaking trophy, and what looks like a section of the Kentucky Derby winner's circle. Despite the fact that Glory only ran in a maiden race in this book, which would get Whitebrook nothing more than a photo and a check cut for the winning percentage of the purse, the cover is a landmark because it is the first time Cindy appears with a smile. Yes! I know, I was shocked too. Cindy does have an emotional range that does include happiness. Although happiness for her does seem to be directly tied to her special horses winning by incredible margins, as all the covers and text support.
Has Cindy given up on horses for good?
Cindy Blake has finally found a home and a family she loves -- her life at Whitebrook Farm is almost perfect. Then the champion racehorse Townsend Princess is injured, and Cindy feels responsible. If only she had more experience with horses, she could have prevented Princess from racing.
After Princess's accident, Cindy won't go anywhere near her favorite horse, Glory. She's afraid she could cause him to be hurt, too. But without Cindy's training and love, Glory will never become a racehorse. Will Cindy find the courage to make Glory a champion?
So he's like spooking at anything and everything for no reason. It's also been decided somewhere between book 14 and 15 that only Cindy can really ride him and get good results. Which never fails to annoy me. Then Glory's super special previous trainer appears and tells Cindy the magic secret to Glory's success: talking! Track records are shattered soon after.
She breaks her leg in the Blue Grass, and this is pretty much the only event that motivates the plot in the entire book. Which is surprising given that it happens on something like page 160 in a 191 page book. Anyway, Cindy goes all paranoid and ruins a couple of Glory's training sessions before Ashleigh tells her to get over it already. Cindy does.
Remember the good old days of elementary school, when the kids more mature than their years were pairing off? Perhaps not. Anyway, everyone called it "going out" back then, and I never got into it because I could never figure out where eleven year olds went in order to "go out." Methinks Cindy and Max are the ones who totally get the "going out" thing and sneer at the kids who aren't "going out" with anyone. Cindy wasn't into it in this book, but believe me, she will be.
- Glory really does spook a lot, from almost everything. But I'll train that out of him with a lot of work -- and love. Yeah, you know, I could really do without Cindy's inner monologue.
- We're six pages in and there's a hint of the Cindy/Ashleigh rivalry, to be developed to the height of insanity in Arabian Challenge. The point of contention? Who is the more perfect rider. I know, it kills me even now.
- Heather and Cindy have the most asinine conversation about Glory. Heather: "I suppose you'll settle for another Breeders' Cup Winner." Cindy: "Maybe, but I really have my heart set on Horse of the Year." And the thing is they are entirely serious. No, really.
- Already the bitching starts. But I want to exercise him and train him. Christ, it's begun.
- *cough* Ian: Where have you been hiding yourself, Tor? Samantha: Good question. Yes, we all know how "busy" Tor is. Busy, busy little bee, that one. Is Angelique still around?
- Um. Tor asks Samantha if she can take Sierra over jumps tomorrow and Cindy literally thinks: I'm glad he didn't ask me. Yeah. Because Cindy knows so much about horses and riding in her six months of experience to exercise a steeplechaser over jumps. Oh my GOD this is going to be a long review.
- For some reason Shining and Her Majesty have taken a leap up in class and are now racing against colts in the Santa Anita Handicap. Cindy has the nerve to say she's not worried about the competition, as does Samantha. You know, why even bother saying there's competition at this point?
- You notice how people don't exactly converse with each other? For example: Tor starts to talk about cheesecake. Tor: It's so creamy. Cindy: Yeah, really. Samantha: I'm taking Glory out tomorrow, too. As if someone was talking about training. Then Beth chimes in about shopping for their California trip. It's like dialogue is wasted on these people.
- Cindy's all dumbstruck that Ashleigh's going to ride Glory in his first race. Who the hell did she think would ride?
- "Go for Glory!" Okay, it's official. Karen Bentley sucks at dialogue. She just does, and it can't be helped.
- Everyone was rooting for Glory -- it was nice. Okay, now I'm pretty convinced that she just sucks in general. This is getting painful. Of course they're rooting for Glory, Cindy. They're placating you because he's your special horse and they spent $12,000 on him as a racing prospect. Did you expect that they'd wish bad things on him? What the hell?
- Yeah, it would be just like these people to supplement the vet's opinion on a horse's legs with their own, happier opinion. I think she just pounded the track with all she was worth. Not to mention a simpler opinion.
- Why is there cavalletti on the path back to the barn? I'm just really confused about what Karen Bentley thinks a thoroughbred training facility looks like.
- Butterball is now "candy-colored." I would have accepted "caramel-colored" but as it is I keep expecting him to be white and red, or neon blue or something remarkably bright and sugary.
- Tor is setting up jumps for the Pony Commandos and then Mandy surprises everyone by posting to a trot. Everyone is amazed because posting takes "balance and strength." Does anyone else see a bit of a discrepancy here?
- Man, if I was in Mandy's class I'd probably hate her.
- Uh-oh. Young love. Bentley's going for the hate-hate-hate-love! route with Cindy and Max, which is only good if your characters are much older than eleven, because the love/hate relationship only works when there's sexual tension. Which there isn't with sixth-graders. Ever. I don't care if you're eleven and reading this right now and claim you have a love/hate relationship. You don't. It's impossible.
- Fantastic. Bentley just gets through describing how close Heather and Cindy are and then Cindy "warns" Heather not to "be dumb" in the next paragraph. Friendship with Cindy is a heavy burden.
- Max is mad because Cindy got an A on her science project and he got an A-. Really, what is the big frickin' deal? If Cindy had tripped and fallen on his science project before it was graded and thus ruined his grade for the term, that's something to be pissed about. Not two percentage points.
- Ooh, a tuna sandwich with dill! It's like no one else has thought to put ingredients other than tuna in a tuna sandwich before.
- Cindy assumes Lavinia is unhappy, thus striving to make others unhappy. I don't think she's unhappy. How could she be? She's wealthy, owns bunches of horses, and married Brad. Hell, that's all I want out of life, so why the hell would she be unhappy?
- Someone asks Cindy if Shining is her horse and she replies: "Kind of. I'm her groom." The correct answer would be, "No, I'm her groom." According to Cindy she'd "kind of" own Whitebrook Farm at this rate.
- Miraculously Ben Cavell, Glory's first trainer, turns up at Santa Anita and would "rather talk to" Cindy about Glory's training. Who knows why.
- Ben Cavell tells Cindy that she probably knows about Just Victory, Glory's fantabulous grandsire. Cindy says, of course she does. Of course the audience has no clue about this horse, but apparently he's Bentley's sole creation and he's like the best race horse ever and won a mile and a quarter race by 25 lengths. Ben then goes on to tell Cindy that he thinks Glory will be just like Just Victory before practically disappearing when Ashleigh and Samantha come along. I have a theory now: either Ben is Cindy's guardian angel or a child predator.
- Bentley says Shining's odds are 1.5 to 1. I think she means 3 to 2. This isn't poker, after all.
- "There goes Destiny," Beth remarked. "I didn't mean that negatively," Beth added with a laugh. Oh, hahaha, Beth you are so funny. *sigh*
- *cough* Samantha makes the same argument for retiring Shining at five that she was so vehemently against when Clay proposed it for Pride back in Pride's Last Race. Shocking? Nope, not so much.
- Oh my God, she's manufacturing tears because she thinks people have forgotten her birthday and it's not even her flipping birthday yet.
- Heather tells Cindy that Glory is really her horse because he "trusts" her. No, Heather. Unfortunately Cindy's right. She's conceited, and you're not helping.
- Out of no where Shining runs in the "El Ricon Handicap," which is actually supposed to be spelled "El Rincon" and I don't see the campaign strategy there. It's a mile race on turf. Shining is a classic distance mare more inclined to dirt. However, here's the biggie: she freaking LOSES. I know! Shining comes in second for the first time since appearing at Whitebrook Farm. I'm almost giddy with excitement. Of course, this is just mentioned in passing as if no one cares, but you know they were besides themselves with disappointment.
- "Boys pay attention to girls they like." Oh, really Sammy? That's a saying? I thought they, I don't know, threw various vegetables at them. Wow, was I way off.
- Lovely. Ashleigh remarks that Cindy has a bond with Glory, kinda like she had with Wonder. And Cindy takes it as being in the "same class" as Ashleigh and Wonder.
- So Cindy finally exercises Glory and it goes as swimmingly as possible despite the improbability of this happening and everyone remarks that Glory will definitely race when I think they should be considering the fact that he's kind of a little jerk for everyone else.
- Mike dares to say Glory looks like a sprinter! Holy hell! Let's all go hysterical!
- Apparently Glory's great grandsire (yeah, we get lots of unneeded pedigree talk in this book) was raced through arthritis, a heart condition, and splits. You know, that's not quite impressive enough for me. Perhaps if he won a race on two broken legs, one blind eye, and bleeding from his nose I might be inclined to ooh and ahh.
- Odd added fact I didn't know: Mr. Wonderful has a flaxen mane. Okay, I can go with that.
- As per the usual, every Whitebrook horse has to have exactly one month of downtime before another race. Princess races in the Santa Anita Oaks at the end of February and again in the Blue Grass Stakes in mid April. Most horses would have a race in March. There's nothing weird about the Townsends wanting a race in March. And yet their wanting a race in March means they're being money hungry and unthinking of the animal.
- Um, first Ashleigh & Co. say Lavinia would want to scratch Princess because she gets all with the crazy rage when Ashleigh's horses win. Then Ashleigh & Co. say that Lavinia wouldn't scratch a horse if it could "lift a hoof," so what the hell?
- And of course Cindy sees Princess limping before the race but no one else picks up on it, including veterinary experts.
- Will Princess lose her leg? -- Is Karen Bentley aware that horses can't survive on three legs?
- Wow. Shock of all shocks -- Lavinia is to blame for Princess's second break down. Yeah, sorry. Ain't buying it.
- Bentley tries her hand at writing Brad, which is interesting considering he hasn't really spoken since Wonder's Sister. Unfortunately she gets it wrong. Brad never had Wonder whipped, and he was never one to really advocate whips.
- Poor Heather. Cindy not only thinks Mandy is a better jumper than Heather, but now Max is a much bolder rider. What the hell did Heather ever do to Karen Bentley?
- "Scare him even more than he already is -- make him psychotic," Brad laughed. You know, this whole sequence about Brad appearing out of nowhere to tell Cindy just how worthless Glory is before the big race is pretty weird. Of course, then Ben appears and in all his angelic light proclaims that Glory is the bestest horse there is ever ever ever! Brad shrugs and walks off. Oh, Brad. I love you.
- Ha! Cindy wonders if Ben can communicate to Glory telepathically. Actually, that would explain a whole lot.
- Ben tells Cindy the magical answer to their mystery with Glory's spooking: talk to him! Whips, you see, are no good. Wow. As if that was like cherished and sought after information no one else thought of.
- And Glory wins the race by twenty lengths and sets a new track record. I remember reading this for the first time back in, oh, 1997 or so, and hurling the book across the room right about here.
To sum up: it's sort of like horrible fanfiction written by a dedicated yet clueless fan. I have got to go detox myself for about two weeks now to recover from this level of genuine crazy.