Jun 16, 2008

God Almighty, We’re Goin’ to the Races: The Race

Golden Filly Series #1: The Race
by Lauraine Snelling
First Printing: 1990

And now, I have to admit, I’m on a sugar high; one big chunky Rice Crispy square, and tea for breakfast. It’s the only thing that’s going to help me get through this review. To tell you the truth, I don’t even know why I have this book. I think I got it from my grandparents. They’re very religious, so it seems like something they’d get, because hey … it has a horse on the cover and is about horses, Lei must want to read it, right? Otherwise, I can’t figure out how this book ended up on my shelf, I know I’ve read some of the author’s High Hurdle series, but never really liked the author enough to want to read everything she’s written. Maybe it’s because she’s religious, and I’m not (well, not really, I’m sort of an agnostic-atheist, if that makes any sense) and I didn’t much like God shoved in my face like these books do.

Anyway, moving on...

Ye Olde Cover

Believe it or not, I can’t find this cover anywhere. At least in decent quality, the one on Amazon.com is hideous, so I fired up me old scanner, and scanned the darned thing. And it still came out looking ugly. Bethany House Publishers, you guys get a big fat F- for cover quality, mmkay. That said, it’s a confusing little cover. Tricia hasn’t got a helmet on, the horse apparently isn’t wearing a bridle, but somehow has a bit in his mouth (what’d they do, super glue it in?) and also, Spitfire seems to be channeling Perfect Image because he’s running the wrong way. Hello, cover designer… it’s a real purty track and all, but this is America, we run horses counterclockwise. I’d think a great slogan for this would be: Race Ridin: Ur Doin It Wrong!

Ye Olde Synopsis
Tricia Evanston has loved horses as long as she can remember just like her father. He has always encouraged her love of horse racing and has been training her to compete professionally. Things are not as smooth with Tricia's mother who worries about her schoolwork and the chances of her getting hurt. Their relationship is easily strained.

Tricia has turned sixteen and her whole life is about to be turned upside down. Her father has been coughing for a long time and finally goes to the hospital. The family is devastated when they learn the diagnosis. Tricia and her older brother David try to take care of the ranch, but when some of the horses get sick, Tricia's schoolwork really suffers.

And then there's the question of her faith. How can she trust in God when He's seemingly forgotten her father?

Before her looms the big race. If only she can win.
And blah blah blah. Hey, y’know, this synopsis is pretty accurate. Maybe we don’t have to read the book after all. Am I only dreaming there? Wibble. I am sad.

Ye Olde Plot
So we start our story the way a lot of horse racing books begin, with a track scene in the morning. It seems to be an almost cookie-cutter formula for the “How Horse Racing Books Shall Start™” recipe. Maybe the authors feel they need to establish that this book is All About Racing.™ So anyway, it’s morning, and Tricia is riding a two-year-old (who is of course black because god forbid any horse be a normal bay color) with her father on this old gray horse (gee, are we cribbing from Walter Farley, here, Mrs. Snelling?) and the black colt dusts the older horse because obviously he’s a wonder horse. We then see that Tricia’s dad is having a coughing fit, which is undoubtedly going to be a problem for him later on. And we also have a nice little scene with the older brother, and the mom, and the mom is apparently worried sick about the thought of her daughter riding in a race. However, big brother tells her to fuck off because this is her daughter’s dream, and all, and how dare anybody ruin the precious dreams of a teenaged girl.

Tricia then goes to put the horse away so she can get ready for school, and finds her dad coughing up blood (see, I told you that coughing is going to be a problem) and gets worried. Tricia immediately starts praying like mad. And then she gets hustled off to school with her brother while her dad practically swears on a stack of bibles that he’s going to the doctor. At school, Tricia worries herself sick, talks with her best friend, Rhonda Seabolt, and then talks to this gorgeous boy named Brad that she’d probably want to screw if he wasn’t sort of like a brother, in which case it’d be sort of like incest (but not really) because any handsome intelligent male can only really be a good friend in a non-sexual way in a book written by a Christian. Oh yeah, and she realizes that she forgot to pray again, and beats herself up over it, mentally. And then it’s lunchtime, and she hangs out with the star quarterback jock named Doug whom she does want to screw because he’s not like a brother or anything. And then she has a panic attack and starts another prayerfest. And then it’s off to home, where she finds an empty house, along with a note from her brother saying her dad’s in the hospital. And this scares her because her family is apparently super healthy, and the only times they ever go to hospital is to die. So it’s time for another prayerfest. Whoot!

But it’s Brad to the rescue, and they take care of horses, and ride together and stuff. And then big brother David shows up, and tells them that daddy dearest is pretty much a goner because he has lung cancer (I bet you my weekly allowance that daddy was a chain smoker) and Tricia just happens to be on a horse, and has a meltdown, so the poor horse has a meltdown. And then it’s another prayerfest. And then to make matters worse, now they’ve got a horse that’s coughing. Wow, that just beats the dutch, don’t it? And it means another prayerfest. And the vet comes, and gives meds, and stuff.

And then Mumsy and the brother come back, and Mumsy has a shitfit about how her daughter didn’t go to the hospital. Mumsy also seems to be something of a feminine misogynist because she says flat out that “racing thoroughbreds is a man’s job” and Tricia flips her mom off and flounces off to her room because she’s Right and her mother is Wrong, so therefore, she’s got the right to flounce. And then Mommy comes in, and pretty much falls at her daughter’s feet to beg forgivness. And Tricia begins to fall behind in her schoolwork (dun dun dun… that’s sure to come back and bite her in the ass sooner or later.)

And now they’ve got more sick horses so they stick the lot in this old barn, and Tricia’s working like a mad thing to get everything taken care of. Oh, and she flunks a chemistry quiz. Like bad. Like so bad, she’s missed all but one question. Sucks to be her. And then she has an accident in the starting gate on a green colt, and eats dirt big time.

And then her dad gets home from the hospital, and he’s not doing so hot (he’s got cancer remember) so Tricia freaks because she didn’t go see him in hospital, so she’s shocked at how he looks, and flips out like ninja at her brother. And then instead of a prayerfest, it’s a hatefest because she tells God she hates him. Gasp! And then she goes for a ride on the old gray horse in a Western saddle. And then a few days later, she rides the horse that had a blowup in the gate, and everything goes well. And she seems to have mended her differences with God, because it’s a prayerfest again. And then the whole family goes to church, bully for them. And then she has her 16th birthday, and some of the football jocks try and kiss her at lunch time, and the entire school pretty much comes in their pants for her with all the cheering and whistling, and feet stamping and chanting about her winning her races and stuff.

And then it’s dinner at a seafood restaurant, and everyone gives Tricia race-related presents, from silks to a helmet and a whip. Oh my goodness, she really needs that whip does she? Even though she’s never even lifted or used one in the preceding 113 pages of this book. Hell, maybe she thought about using one on page one, but it’s not like she needed it with her ChampionSuperSpecialWonderHorse, right? And then one of their mares foals (in late September? Holy hell, Mrs. Snelling, do you know jackshit about horse racing or what?)

And finally, it’s off to the racetrack at last where they stable the horses, and then we cut to church where Mrs. Snelling reads us the usual regurgitated lecture about how much God cares for people, and how everyone needs to read the bible to find all of life’s answers, and blah blah blah. And Tricia gets in trouble in school, and her teacher threatens a smackdown. And her parents hire someone else to ride and do morning workouts. And then it’s back to the track for a horse race, and Tricia rides the pony horse to the gate, and then somehow remains on the track close enough for her brother and friends to be there. And of course, the horse wins, and the owner offers her the ride (even though we haven’t heard if she’s even got her jockey license yet.)

Tricia and her dad then have a heart-to-heart lovefest talk with Mount Saint Helens in the distance (man, talk about a downer. I’ve been to Mount Saint Helens, and this was a good 10 something years after the mountain blew its top – it’s depressing being there because it’d dead) and there’s a whole thing about God, and how much Tricia’s dad wants to do God, and all that stuff. And then her dad has a few bad attacks of coughing, and they go to the ER a few times.

And then it’s the day of the big race, and Tricia hangs around helping take care of her horse when she by rights should be in the jockey’s room (which by the way, she never did take her jockey test apparently – you’d think it would have been big news) and she finally goes to get changed. But then she leaves the room, and hooks up with Brad before she weighs in. Now see, right here, I’m convinced that Lauraine Snelling knows jackshit about horse racing. That just would not happen. Ever. And then her ChampionSpecialSuperWonderHorse goes right to the lead, and runs and runs without her ever ever having to whip him, but then a horse comes from behind them, and the mean bad jockey is whipping his horse (clearly this other horse doesn’t run for love of the girl alone!) and there’s a photo finish, but Tricia wins, and everyone is happy. Even Mumsy because she gets to stand in the winner’s circle. Bully. Personally, I think everyone made a big fuss over a maiden win. I mean, honestly, every other horse was brand-spanking new to racing too. It’s not like Spitfire beat Ghostzapper, Big Brown, Secretariat and Smarty Jones.

Ye Olde Points of Interest
  • The farm Tricia grew up on is called Runnin’ On Farm, and they have a three-quarter mile track. Now, this makes sense. A farm with a mile-long track is stupid, and insane, no matter how rich or big time the farm is. Ever seen photos of Churchill Downs from the blimp? It’s freaking huge. Think of the property taxes a farm would have to pay to have enough land for that!
  • The old gray Napolean-wannabe is named Dan’l. Now, I don’t get some of the pretentious names that racehorses are often given, but what the effing hell is a name like Dan’l?
  • Tricia’s best friend, Rhonda, supposedly rides gaited horses. And then later in the book, she’s going to a jumping competition. Idiot! Gaited horses is not like riding jumpers. Get your disciplines right, Mrs. Snelling!
And thus ends my review of The Race. I certainly have no intention of going back to read any of the others, made easier by the fact that I don’t have any of the other books. End of story. I guess it’s time to go torture myself with crazy stallions, and lost foals. Ugh!


Claire said...

lei, you must be reading my mind lately. i was wondering when someone was going to review this book. i remember when i was a kid that i would try over and over to read this series and never get past the first few chapters of anything because of all the god. i could not understand what it was doing in the damned books.

Mara said...

Hey, Lei, for the hell of it I switched your image with a better one. My library's website had a scan of the cover that was brighter.

And holy crap, I always kinda wanted to read those books but could never force myself given the subject matter. Now I really don't want to read them, but now of course I do. Stupid blog coloring my reading choices! Damn it.

Monique said...

hahahaha! I actually owned books 5-10 of this series. read them only becuase I paid for them. All the religious stuff drove me a little nutty, as I had no inclination to follow that path and therefore couldn't fathom most of it.
I think they would have been a passable series of books otherwise. Less God, More horses! (becuase, that's just the way I think, dammit!)

Anonymous said...

oh squee! i've actually been rereading the High Hurdles series and i plan on rereading the Golden Filly books once i'm done. i went to a Catholic school from kindergarten until seventh grade and we used to have book fairs once a month or so. my mom got me these purely because they were about horses.

the religiousness does get sort of sickening (particularly the main characters' monologues with God) but i still enjoy them, in an odd way. HH is slightly less heavy on the God stuff than GF at least, though both are rather repetitive. (really, how many times can we read about how Trish's mom hates the racehorses and how DJ's mom is constantly bitching about her forgetting to do her chores?) i do think they'd be way better if God wasn't one of the main characters. but i was hoping to see them pop up here! i've got both series in their entirety (though GF #10 is currently MIA in my mess of a room...i've really got to find that before i start on that series) so Mara, let me know if curiousity gets the best of you and can't find them anywhere else.

Molly (formerly anonymous) said...

Oh, Lauraine Snelling. I'd forgotten she wrote these shitfests along with the more palatable High Hurdles series. They were the only horse books I WOULDN'T read as a kid, because they bored the piss out of me. I could deal with HH because I was more interested in jumping, but even as a kid I realized that the writing blew goats.

Anonymous said...

Here you go: