Jan 27, 2013

Wish Upon a Horse

Wish Upon a Horse
Timber Ridge Riders #4
by Maggie Dana
More than anything in the world, Kate McGregor wants a horse of her own, but the scruffy mare she rescues from the auction is hardly the horse of her dreams. 

Still, Kate’s betting that one day her horse will be a champion. Together they’ll win blue ribbons. They’ll beat Angela Dean once and for all, despite the fact that Angela’s being coached by one of the top riders in the world who’s as unscrupulous as she is.

But can Kate do it? Even her best friend, Holly, is doubtful, especially when Angela spreads the rumor that Kate’s horse might be stolen property.
Hi y'all! Welcome to my herculean attempt at Cheerful Southern. I am not a southerner (not really) and I'm not cheerful (I don't think so, anyway). So listen. I've been trying to get through my backlog of books I promised people I would read way long ago in this time that I call 2012. It was a magical and horrible time, resulting in a list of books that became a pile of books (or, well, metaphorically) that I kind of ignored up until very recently. I realize that I'm basically describing the human condition (overly emotional procrastinator), but I think we can all sagely agree that we're walking hormonal bags of goo and continue on with our lives. So here we are, with a book to get around to talking about at some point. So let's get to that!

Kate McGregor has a chunk of cash burning a hole in her bank account, and she has designs to turn this money into a Wonder Pony all her very own! Liz, who is the haver of all horse knowledge, declares that she will help Kate on this magical quest and Holly whips out the horse classifieds. Everyone realizes that horses cost a lot of money...like, way more than the tantalizing amount Kate possesses...and the girls are demoralized that anything worth having is reserved for those of us with income. But Liz says, "Hark! I heard of an auction that may or may not have something worth looking at and you did tell your dad that you're buying a horse right? I didn't just imagine that it's totally okay for you to buy livestock without the permission of an adult that is actually your legal guardian and not me, your sort-of employer?"

So Kate is like...maybe? And then they're off to an auction. While at the auction, either nothing is appealing or everything is too expensive. Kate's attempts at buying a horse are thwarted, but there is a secret auction going on in the back lot or some such and those are the horses that will be headed to Canadian slaughterhouses. Because I can't remember anything anymore, I am not sure how Kate notices the mare from the book previous, but she does. The crazy loon's brown mare is purchased by a kill buyer and Kate, mustering up all her horse girl heroine gusto, flings herself at the side of the truck in order to stop the kill buyer and insist on buying Brown Mare. Eventually Liz appears to punch the kill buyer in the face, which was pretty awesome because random violence entertains me, and Kate buys the mare.

Congratulations, Kate! You are the official owner of a horse type thing that Liz recommends you fatten up and sell. Huzzah. They haul Brown Mare home and Kate slinks into the barn with it, hoping to not be seen by Angela, who is not going to be on board with having a rescue horse within the stable walls. Rescue horses bring down the value of all horses near it, obviously. So Kate and Holly clean up Brown Mare and discover that she's actually a flaxen-haired, golden chestnut Morgan underneath what must have been two inches of dirt. They name the mare Tapestry and one up Angela when her mother storms in asking to see the dirty Brown Mare that is ruining all of their lives.

Speaking of Angela, she now has a new coach that is set on whipping her into shape for team try outs. They conduct their lessons in a totally enclosed arena, in complete seclusion, because that is normal and rational and not super sketchy and suspicious. Angela's sanity begins to slowly unravel, and it goes without mentioning that her horse goes batshit.

Meanwhile, Tapestry jumps out of her paddock, convincing everyone that she is awesome and doesn't need to be sold. Only by that point it has occurred to Liz that the mare was probably stolen, but by that point there are a ton of pictures of her on Facebook and because Angela knows everyone the mare has already acquired a "horse stalker" that is "interested" in "seeing more" of the mare. How do you stalk a horse online? Is that a thing?

So Kate has to cowgirl up and recognize that her horse may not be her horse, while her boyfriend who is not her boyfriend fails to contact her from Romania or somewhere because he is a movie star. Then she doesn't even make the riding team with Tapestry, and Holly will not stop cuddling with Adam and this makes Kate extremely stressed. Although not as stressed as Angela, who is literally at meltdown levels. Eventually Kate and Adam put two and two together and hide away in a closet adjacent to the arena so they can watch the abuse occurring between Angela and her new coach. Then there's some hysterics and Angela whips the guy in the face. Go Angela!

There is also a party. I think I forgot to mention this, which is horrible of me because two girls arrive dressed as My Little Ponies and it was adorable. And Nathan, Kate's movie actor/sort of boyfriend, appears fresh from being hospitalized in Romania with an excuse for not calling Kate that rivals Tor's legendary "but the phone lines were down for three days and I can't leave the horses for five minutes because I am responsible, which therefore makes me not a complete prick...in theory. I will accept your forgiveness now." In Nathan's defense, however, he wasn't actually being seduced by a blonde, nor did he epically piss off his non-girlfriend before failing to make contact with Kate. So he gets a pass. Mainly, I think Kate needs to chill out and find a second hobby.

Then Kate tries to check in on Angela, and Angela almost lets her, and it was a sweet moment that is totally ruined when Angela panics at the thought of having a genuine friend or something and defects to the opposing riding team. Do we get to have a second antagonist now? Does having Angela on the rival team give her potential for being nice? Or sort of morally gray? Or will she try to lure Adam away from Holly, given that I guess she'll be over at his barn causing chaos there? What will happen? I MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENS.

We close with a rousing equestrian show.

Oh, and Tapestry was stolen. But I don't really feel like revealing how that plays out. Go read it yourself, slackers. (Ha ha ha!)

Jan 21, 2013

I feel inspired, oh so inspired. Thoroughbred #59: Star's Inspiration

Star's Inspiration
Thoroughbred #59
By Mary Anderson
June 2003

It's Star's last strike. …

Christina Reese has always known that Wonder's Star is special. But as the third race in the Triple Crown approaches, it's unclear whether Star is up to the challenge. The competition is getting tougher every minute, and Christina's so stressed out, she wonders whether all the pressure she's feeling will affect Star's concentration.

But then Christina gets some fantastic tips from an unexpected source: a jockey who claims to have raced the legendary 1977 Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew. Star and Seattle Slew have more in common than Christina ever realized. With this new advice—and the amazing support of her family and friends—Christina feels ready to take on the world at the Belmont! But will Star come through?

The Summary:

Oh look! A big fat 0% on this one. I guess Star's imaginary three-paragraph illness is supposed to be the "is Star up to the challenge?" part. Christina is far less stressed-out and annoying than she was before the Preakness, and she never actually talks to said legendary jockey at all. One point for both Seattle Slew and Star nearly dying of a viral infection, but otherwise, that's a solid F+, HarperEntertainment.  

The Cover:

What on earth is Christina wearing? It looks like a polyester business suit. The shoulderpads, the ribbons … is she riding in the Belmont, or going to be a secretary in the 1970s? Also, apparently Whitebrook's colors have become black and blue, not blue and white, and I'm not sure Christina's helmet is fastened there, so it's good she didn't fall off in this book. I'm going to guess that on the left, that's Emilio Casados on Celtic Mist, so I'll give them credit for a) the horse being a gray, and b) the jockey wearing some shade of green, although I'm pretty sure that's a green sport coat he's wearing. And to the right, on the black-ish horse … what is that, the pink blob of Belmont?

The Plot:

Christina is in the starting gate for the Belmont, having a flashback to the way Image broke her leg during the Derby two books ago. Damn, that was quick. No 150 pages of whining and moping before the Belmont? No, never fear, life would never be that kind, for it turns out that it's just a dream and Ashleigh wakes Christina up.

Then we get into a rehash of basically all the things that happened in the last book, such as: Parker is worried about Brad's designs on Melanie and Image. Christina is not sure what she wants to do after high school and after Star finishes racing. Dani tells Christina how glad she is she's going to college and how excited she is to be a vet. Image won the Derby, Celtic Mist won the Preakness, and Wild 'n' Free (that colt from Celtic Meadows) came in second in the Preakness. Wait, I think some of this was already rehashed in the last book. Well, that's okay, there's nothing like a good comprehension check in the middle of the story. There's going to be a quiz at the end, you know.

Ashleigh, Melanie, and Christina visit Ghyllian Hollis and Vince Jones at Celtic Meadows, which is apparently the U.S. offshoot of the main facility in Shannon, Ireland. Hmm, I bet this will be important in about seven books or so. Vince is looking for a jockey for a colt named Celtic Knot. Melanie is riding for Townsend Acres, so Christina says yes.

Christina wins a race on Charisma, and brings Celtic Knot in second. Melanie comes in second on two Townsend Acres horses. She's clearly been drinking the Kool-Aid, because when Brad suggests breeding Celtic Mist to Image, Melanie says that might be "one incredible foal." Don't worry, though; Vicky Frontiere is still there to reaffirm that we hate Townsend Acres and she doesn't want to ride for them.

Ian calls the track in a panic to say that Star is sick, but by the time they get home, he's fine. I guess this is supposed to interject half a chapter of tension into the story before we finally make it to the Belmont in Chapter 10. The next day Christina exercises Gratis because Wolf quit working at Tall Oaks after he was suspended after the Preakness. Christina suggests that Cindy ask Melanie to ride Gratis in the Belmont.

Christina and Melanie graduate from high school and go out to dinner with Ashleigh, Mike, Samantha, Tor, and Parker. Samantha and Tor announce that they're having a baby. For some reason they don't go out with Ian, Beth, and Kevin (who is not mentioned in this book at all, but in later books they talk about how he's going to college in the fall). I might as well take this moment to rant about the fact that this is not possible at all. Melanie was born in the spring, Christina was born on Christmas, and Kevin was born the next spring. There's no way the three of them would be in the same class. Either Henry Clay has a September 1 cutoff, which means that Christina and Kevin could be in the same class but Melanie couldn't, or else they have a January 1 cutoff, which means that Melanie and Christina could be in the same class but Kevin couldn't. I can't begin to guess. My only fanon theory is that maybe Melanie got held back at some point. But trying to make this work logically is like trying to make the ages for Sweet Valley Twins line up, so I just don't even try anymore.

They take Star to Belmont and meet some famous people: Karen Taylor, Seattle Slew's owner; and Jean Cruguet, Slew's jockey. Oooh, I bet one of these people is supposed to be Star's inspiration. Five dollars, anyone? Cindy takes Christina to visit the farm where Legacy is at stud. The farm isn't all that nice, but the people are. They tell Christina and Cindy how much they love Legacy and how sweet he is. On the way back, Christina point-blank admits, "I never should have let him go." This is a rehash from earlier books too, but I like the way this whole thing plays out: Christina admits she was a brat, although probably no more so than most twelve-year-olds; we continue to acknowledge that Ashleigh was wrong to push racing so hard; and Legacy is fine, it's just sad that Wonder's supposedly-last baby never really got a chance. Bittersweet stuff all around.

Then we get back to Belmont and morph into a crossover with The Saddle Club: Speed.com has been stolen! Speed.com, if you remember, is trained by Alexis Huffman, who worked (dishonestly) for Fredericka Graber when she still owned Tall Oaks. I think I have that right. Check out the recap for #44: Perfect Image if you want to know more. Christina remembers that before the Preakness, Speed.com looked like he might be going lame. She speculates that Alexis arranged for him to be stolen. Gasps all around. All right, now let's get Deborah Hale to write an article and we will skulk around and get people to admit that … whoops, wrong series. Instead, Christina and Melanie skulk around in a car and try to find the horse. Right, because whoever stole him would be keeping him in a paddock next to the highway. They see a horse that they think could be Speed.com, and report it to the track security manager. Christina tells Melanie she's thinking of becoming a vet.

They draw positions for the Belmont:
Gratis – gate 1
Magnifique – 2
Derry O'Dell – 3
Wild 'n' Free – 4
Star – 5
Celtic Mist – 6
TV Time – 7
War Ghost – 8

For those keeping track, there were 9 in the Derby and 9 in the Preakness. I don’t know who we're missing—Ingleside, I guess. Granted, I know there have been small fields in the Belmont before, but I suspect that this painstaking listing of horses/gates/jockeys is because we're supposed to feel a deep kinship (or at least name recognition) with all these horses, and I really haven't been paying enough attention for that to work.

There's a pre-race party at Will and Susan Graham's the night before. There are a whole bunch of people there: Magnifique's owner, Ghyllian Hollis, Jilly Gordon and Craig Avery (hey, remember them? I'm sure they WON'T become an important plot point in about ten books). Will announces that they found Speed.com after Christina and Melanie's anonymous tip led them to a farm outside Elmont. It turns out Alexis did, indeed, engineer the theft of her own horse. Way to go, Christina and Melanie. That was the most boring Saddle Club mystery ever.

Finally, the goddamn Belmont happens. At first Star breaks badly, then he gets blocked in, then sees a hole and goes for it. She tries to keep Star under control, then remembers what Jean Cruguet said about Seattle Slew: "He just hung on and let the horse run the race his way." This is truly hilarious because the only person who ever actually said those words was Cindy, who was quoting something she read. Though really, Cindy probably would have been about as much help as Jean Cruguet here. A mere 118 words later, in the most underwhelming race scene/denouement ever, Star wins the Belmont. Turns out Parker came to watch the race and kisses Christina (even though they were still broken up or something like that), and Christina knows that "everything was going to be just perfect." Ugh.

There is a super-inspiring biography of Seattle Slew at the end. I guess it's supposed to be inspiring because Seattle Slew "nearly los[t] his jockey, Jean Cruguet, at the start of the 1977 Kentucky Derby" just like Star and Christina did here? I don't even know.

So there's your Triple Crown, folks.
Derby: Image, Mist, Gratis
Preakness: Mist, Wild 'n' Free, Gratis (disqualified), Star
Belmont: Star, Gratis, Mist. (Not sure about place and show—Gratis and Mist were fighting it out down to the wire but they don't confirm the exact finish. But it's not really supposed to matter because Star won !1!!1eleventyone!!)

Points of Interest:
  • The vapor lights make an early appearance in chapter 1.
  • At one point, Ashleigh says, "We had some great years at Edgardale when I was young" and gives a "heavy sigh." Christina knows "her mother must be thinking about the horses they had lost because of the epidemic." Ah, very observant, Christina. Good thing you want to become a vet and not a psychologist.
  • For the party, Christina wears a "sleeveless blue-and-white dress." Okay, we get it, Christina. You like your horsies. You are allowed to pick other colors, you know. Maybe something else would set off your ever-changing hair better.
  • Jilly is described as the person who "jockeyed Ashleigh's Wonder until a broken leg kept her from racing, forcing Ashleigh to get her jockey's license so that she could ride Wonder in the Breeder's Cup." Which is actually mostly correct. +1 for Mary.
Next up: the Breeder's Cup! No, just kidding. It's another Jennifer Chu book, which means those California people will be back.

Jan 13, 2013

Christina's Shining Star is not all that shiny. Thoroughbred #58: Christina's Shining Star

Christina's Shining Star
Thoroughbred #58
By Mary Anderson
April 2003
Can Christina and Star pull off a victory?
As Christina Reese's high school graduation draws near, she's filled with questions and not enough answers. Has she sacrificed too much to follow her dream of taking Wonder's Star to the top? She and Star failed to place in the Kentucky Derby. Can they win the Preakness and still have time for Parker, Melanie, the prom, and graduation?
An unexpected brush with the trainer of Affirmed—the famous 1978 Triple Crown winner—not only leaves Christina with some amazing insights, but confirms her belief in Star. Will Christina be able to show everyone how special Star is? Or will her doubts and distractions keep them out of the running … again?
The Summary:

Eh, 50% credit. I think they could have left out everything except the last two sentences, because that's basically what this book is about. It's amazing how you can stretch three weeks to fill 160 pages.  

The Cover:

I don't know what happened -- they must have switched to a new artist or something -- but starting with this book, some of the covers have this weird, cartoony, almost video-game-ish look to them. (Just wait till I get my hands on you, The Price of Fame.) I guess Star is curving his head around from his body, although it looks kind of like Christina has her hands on two different horses here. And what is she wearing? Is it ... the uniform of a Catholic schoolgirl? The puff sleeves that Anne Shirley so wistfully coveted in Anne of Green Gables? Yet another style of Whitebrook silks? The world may never know. What I object to most is the tagline "Can the legendary racehorse Affirmed inspire Star to glory?", which has little to nothing to do with the inspiration that actually happens in this book. Also, Affirmed died in 2001.  

The Plot:

In one of those awesome split-book-type-scenes, Christina's Shining Star picks up from the end of the Kentucky Derby. While Image is shooting across the finish line and breaking her leg, Star is getting boxed in and finishing dead last. The rest of this chapter is a total loss, since it helpfully informs us of things like the fact that Celtic Mist came in second, Gratis came in third, and Image gets moved to Townsend Acres to recover. This is why split-screen tends to work better in movies than books.

As for the actual book, it basically follows a pattern of something happening and then Christina whining and moping. She and Ashleigh have a couple of arguments about why Star got boxed in. One night at dinner she plays with her food, lining up her veggies " so that they formed the same bunching that had held Star up during the Derby." Aside from the fact that it makes Christina sound like she's two years old, this is kind of cute because it reminds me of the time she made a jump course out of her food. How times have changed.

Christina takes a little break from moping to go to the prom with Parker, but she puts her foot in it by asking Katie who came up with the theme, when Katie has told her several times that she was in charge of the decorations. Oops. The night gets even better when Parker tells her point-blank, "Your ego got in the way," and "if you had been more focused on the quality of horses Star was running against and not stuck on the idea that Star deserved to win, you might have done better." Christina throws a hissy fit and demands that Parker take her home, then wonders "why life had to be so complicated."

The next day, Cindy and Samantha come over to talk to Ashleigh about some breedings, including Sterling to Jazzman. Because he was trained as a jumper. Just like that time he ran in the Pimlico Special. Boy, there sure are some great jumps on that track, aren't there? Anyway, Christina whines and mopes to Cindy and Sammy how stressed she is, what with racing Star and fighting with Ashleigh and taking some finals in those, like, two classes she attends. One of them is "contemporary world problems." I'm not sure what that means. Maybe it's to show that Christina's whining and moping issues are nothing in the grand scheme of things. No, more likely it's to show that Christina's problems are as weighty as the problems of the world. Speaking of which, Katie is still ticked off at Christina, which is just so rude and unsympathetic because doesn't Katie know that Christina is the only teenager in the history of the world who's ever ridden in a horse race?

 Ashleigh and Christina fight some more about how Christina didn't pay attention during the Derby and needs to do better in the Preakness. At this point, and we're only about a quarter of the way through the book, I want to drop both of them in a pile of manure. You know, I feel bad for Ashleigh most of the time because it seems like she spends a lot of time caught up in boring administrative stuff and not doing what she wants to do, but all she seems to be doing here is telling Christina she needs to do better without actually giving her suggestions about how to do it better. Maybe that's Ian's job. He's still around, isn't he?

 The next day, a reporter shows up at the farm and writes a bitchy article about Christina and Star, which causes Christina to whine and mope. She goes to visit Melanie at her fancy Townsend Acres cottage and whines and mopes on the way home. She goes over to Tall Oaks and whines and mopes so much that Cindy suggests that she bring Star over to train there so she can get away from Ashleigh. Cindy also says that Gratis is such a handful because he has both Affirmed and Alydar in his bloodlines. Get it? AFFIRMED and ALYDAR? Remember those guys? Oh, do you not know who they are? Well, that's okay, because we will be glad to explain it to you! Honestly, sometimes these characters walk around sounding like they've swallowed Wikipedia.

Cindy thinks it's great to have Christina at Tall Oaks because Wolf needs to learn some good old-fashioned jockey manners. I don't think Christina is the person to teach him about that, but okay, whatever you want, Cindy. She and Christina go on a trail ride, and Cindy says she's going to start taking courses at community college this fall, so that she can be "more of a help to Tall Oaks than just a horse trainer." Very subtle. Of course, Cindy is the one who came up with "Wonder's Champion," so … never mind. Wolf and Christina work their horses together, and Christina accuses him of interfering with her, but Wolf tells her that he never touched her and she's just being too timid. Christina whines and mopes.

Christina takes Star to Pimlico a few days before the Preakness, where she just happens to run into Steve Cauthen, who won the Triple Crown on Affirmed in 1978. Right, Affirmed! Remember him? The horse we were just talking about? Purely coincidental, of course. Anyway, Ghyllian Hollis and Vince Jones are also there with a colt called Wild 'n' Free, also a descendant of Affirmed, who's racing in the Preakness too. I think we're supposed to care, but honestly, I have a hard time keeping track of all these different farms/horses and which ones are supposed to win/place/show in which races. Later, some other awesome horse named Magnifique turns up too, and he is magnificent. Get it?

Christina overhears some of the other jockeys talking about Wolf's reckless riding style, but decides not to say anything to him, particularly after he makes fun of her for losing a race on another one of Ghyllian Hollis' horses. Dani tells Christina more than she ever wanted to know about her college course schedule, which is "worth the effort because I'll be able to help the animals I love." Is anyone seeing a pattern here, or is it just me? No? Just me. Okay then.

Brad and Lavinia come by Star's stall, explaining to a group of investors (? Friends? Groupies?) that Christina bought out his interest in Star, and that they are so pleased that she's turned him back into a nice riding horse, even if he no longer has the competitive spirit. Christina rallies and says Brad is lucky "to be able to buy a colt with such good bloodlines, since you couldn't produce one worthy of the Triple Crown at Townsend Acres." Oooh, if this were a movie, there would be a cool sound effect right now. Ghyllian Hollis comes by to agree that Brad is a pompous jerk and to invite Christina to a party that night, where she runs into Steve Cauthen again. His sage advice is that "all you need is a little more confidence in your connection with your horse. Going out there knowing you've got a great horse under you is really important." Funny, this is exactly the same logic I use when I play the lottery. You can see how well that's worked.

Then the Preakness happens. This has to be the most boring race in the history of Thoroughbred. (Note: I have not read, um, most of the books lately, so I'm willing to take nominations for the actual winner of the "most boring race" award.) It is 14 paragraphs of actual race and the only thing of note is that Wolf cuts Christina off, and Star comes in fourth. Ian and Ashleigh tell her what a great/terrific job she did, though they don't sound particularly enthusiastic. Christina says they only placed fourth, but Wolf was disqualified, so Star is moved up to third. Celtic Mist wins, Wild 'n' Free comes in second. Wait, that was it? And the point of this would be … what? When you stop whining and moping and just have confidence in your horse, you place third? Sounds like a solid game plan to me.

And thus we enter a dark age of Thoroughbred, where every book includes an encounter with a famous person/horse that is supposed to be somehow relevant to the plot. I can't decide if this is better or worse than the famous-horsie-trail-ride that Cindy took in Ashleigh's Farewell -- at least those horses weren't real.  

Points of Interest:
  • "Christina had been so sure that Star's start from the number three position would put them in a good place right at the beginning of the race, she hadn't thought beyond it. She hadn't anticipated Perfect Image, Gratis, and Speed.com getting into a speed duel right from the start. All I could think about was the fact that I'm actually racing Star in the Kentucky Derby. What am I going to do? she berated herself, searching intently for a way to move Star ahead." I always like when Christina (and characters in general) acknowledges that she was stupid and that she did something wrong. Unfortunately, this scene occurs very early in the book, and none of it seems to carry over into the rest of the plot. So Christina was too confident, and the solution is … to be more confident?
  • "[Christina] thought of Miss America's bay colt, Royal Blue, wondering if the Blues King foal might be her next chance for a Triple Crown win. She quickly dashed the idea away, feeling as though she was being untrue to Star by thinking ahead that way." Right, because if Christina really loved Star, she'd figure out a way to invent time travel so he can run again next year.
  • For the prom, Christina wears a blue dress that is "almost the same color as her racing silks." Wait, didn't Cindy do that once?
  • Christina's "pearlescent blue" dress also catches the golden light as the "sun shone brightly through the bedroom window." I'm pretty sure Cindy's horses also used to do this during morning workouts.
  • Parker brings her a blue-and-white corsage and picks her up in a blue limousine. What the hell? He must have inherited that decorator gene from his mother.
  • Parker wears a black tuxedo to the prom. This is how you can tell this book wasn't written by Joanna: it's not white.
  • I haven't been rereading in order, so maybe I missed this, but Christina mentions (perhaps for the first time) that she regrets giving up Sterling and Legacy, and wonders what she'll do after Star stops racing. I know I made fun of all the anvils about college, but I think that's actually pretty logical given that she only got into racing because of the angry fans with pitchforks Star.
  • Christina refers to Brad as "Bradley Whiplash," after the way he disappeared from the horse cabana in the last book. Ha.
  • Sammy has been looking "pale" lately. Gosh, I don't know what that could mean. She must be … um, not getting enough vitamin D. Yeah, that's it.
  • Celtic Meadows' silks are "dark green shamrocks scattered over a white background." Ghyllian wears a green sundress to the race. I guess she went to the Lavinia Hotchkins-Ross Townsend Decorating School, too.
  • Mary's favorite vapor lights make an appearance at the beginning of chapter 9.
  • Christina is jealous that Jazz is writing a love song for Melanie, because "Parker would never do something like that." Um, Christina, that is because Jazz is a singer and a songwriter. It's his job. He gets paid for it. Parker's job is to muck out stalls and little teach kids how to tack up their horses. I'm sure if you asked nicely, he'd muck out a stall for you.
  • Ashleigh tells Christina that there will be more horses running at Pimlico. Except that the field is the same size, with Wild 'n' Free replacing Image. Last I checked, Ash, nine was the same as nine.
Next up: the Belmont. I'm off to play some more lottery numbers! I'm feeling very confident.