Feb 24, 2013

Oh, if only this were a Saddle Club book, and then we could have the pun-filled title of "Bridle Dreams." Thoroughbred #65: Bridal Dreams.

Bridal Dreams
Thoroughbred #65
By Mary Newhall
June 2004

Will Samantha and Tor's wedding be ruined?

Preparing to welcome a baby to the family, Samantha and Tor are cleaning out the spare bedroom to make a nursery when they find their wedding album. It's been stored away for years and now brings back a lot of memories.

Long ago, when she and Tor got engaged, Samantha began planning the most glorious wedding Kentucky had ever seen. But as the date neared, disaster followed disaster, forcing her to put her plans aside. First a mare went into premature labor; then a steeplechase horse with Man o' War's bloodlines needed their help; finally there was a terrible accident.

Samantha was starting to think maybe she and Tor weren't meant to get married. After everything that had gone wrong, would their wedding day turn into another disaster?

The Summary:

Props for general accuracy on this one, though it wasn't really all that difficult—throw in some photo album, some wedding, some accidents, and you've got a summary.  Also, is that "long ago" like "a long time ago when the earth was green," or "long ago, in the faraway land of ancient Greece there was a golden age of powerful gods extraordinary heroes"?  It makes it sound like their wedding was about 326 years ago—which, in Thoroughbred time, it might have been.

The Cover:

Gosh, look!  It's Keri Russell marrying Parker Townsend!  Oh, wait … it's not?  Could've fooled me.  So we have a lovely brunette so-called Samantha marrying a lovely brunette so-called Tor.  Samantha is wearing a stunning pink tunic that goes nicely with her brown red hair (and looks nothing like the wedding dress described in the book), and Tor is wearing some kind of denim jacket that is a cross between James Dean and the World War I trenches.  And those flowers.  FLOWERS EVERYWHERE.  Apparently Tor has journeyed over some purple mountains on his horse and has found paradise in the flower utopia.  Confession time:  I once did some watercolors featuring purple mountains.  But I was ten at the time.

The Plot:

Well, guys, it had to happen eventually.  Ashleigh got not only the best diary but an entire spin-off featuring things that didn't happen in TB-verse, Cindy got not one but two hideously titled diaries, and now it's Samantha's turn.  We start with the never-before-used trope of "oh crap we need this room for something let's clean it out and HEY LOOK something wonderful that reminds me of my past which I will tell you a really long and uninteresting story about!"  Ashleigh, Christina, and Cindy come over to help and impress us with Mary Newhall's ability to read and remember the contents of the early books, such as that Sierra existed, Max Smith existed, Cindy was an overly confident little brat, the Pony Commandos existed, and Mandy existed.  They find Samantha's wedding dress, and Ashleigh says that it was "the wedding we thought was never going to happen."  Christina, like a dutiful daughter, asks to hear the story.  That, or she's just really tired of picking through Samantha and Tor's junk.

We are blasted back a number of years (though not quite 326) to Yvonne Ortez and Gregg Doherty's wedding.  For those keeping track, that means Samantha is 23, Tor is 25, Kevin is four, Cindy is 17, Mandy is 13, Christina is four (almost five), and Ashleigh's last name has magically changed to Griffin.  Gregg and Yvonne get married and everything is beautiful.  Tor decides that his "oh Sammy, kiss me!" proposal from Samantha's Journey wasn't good enough, so he proposes again, this time right in the middle of the wedding reception.  Yeah, that's really polite, Tor.  At least he has a ring this time.

Samantha and Tor can't decide on a date for their wedding, but Samantha does propose a honeymoon in the Caribbean, like Ashleigh and Mike.  Beth suggests that they book the country club for a December 7 wedding.  Samantha isn't excited about something so fancy, but she says yes.

Maureen brings over some wedding magazines, and Sammy balks at the idea of wearing a fancy dress.  Beth hires a wedding planner named Erika Alfonso, who also planned Brad and Lavinia's wedding.  I'm sure you can guess how Samantha feels about the fancy wedding planner, but she handles it remarkably well given that I fully support bopping Beth over the head at this point.  Erika is just leaving when Shining goes into early labor even though she's only five months along.  Dr. Smith (hello again, Max's mom) moves her to her vet clinic.  Shining loses the foal and will not be able to have another, but is okay otherwise.  Tor very supportively tells Samantha that this is "a rotten thing to happen."  What is wrong with him in this book?  Has he lost all sense of how to be a decent person?  Are you sure you want to marry this guy, Sammy?

Brad and Lavinia pop over to the clinic to let Samantha know that they've booked the country club for their own party on December 7.  DUN DUN DUN.  Samantha and Tor don't really mind, and plan for a small wedding in February instead.  Mandy, who's been hanging around all throughout this book, loves Shining so much that Samantha decides to move her to Whisperwood to recover, so she can hang out with Mandy and Mandy can draw her picture and bring her flowers and love her and squeeze her and call her Bob.

Tor and Samantha take Sierra to a steeplechase at Bright Meadows in October.  They see a horse called Miss Battleship, who has Man o' War in her bloodlines.  (Helpful hint:  This is your famous horsie reference of the book.)  Sammy wins her 'chase on Sierra, and Miss Battleship's owner asks her to ride Miss Battleship.  They finish sixth.  The owner is disappointed and plans to sell her, so Samantha and Tor take the money they were going to use for their honeymoon and buy Miss Battleship instead.

Sammy and Beth shop for a wedding dress and "a pair of white lace-up boots," which, I don't know, maybe it's just me, sound perfectly hideous.  At dinner, Ian announces that Len has decided to retire to Indiana to be near his daughter and grandchildren.  Wow, Len!  Remember him?  And they mention Charlie too!  Hot damn.  Mike hires George Ballard as the new manager of the stallion barn.

Ashleigh gets thrown from a horse during a work and fractures a vertebra.  The doctor advises that she not race anymore.  Yay, more continuity!  It's mentioned in earlier books that Ashleigh stopped racing because of back problems.  Sammy wants to postpone the wedding again so Ashleigh can be in it.  She and Tor decide to have a small civil ceremony.

So even though they agree on that, in the weirdest case of five-year-old logic ever, Samantha decides that she and Tor aren't "meant" to get married, and "Maybe Maureen and I will be silly old single ladies together, wearing purple and drinking tea together on the porch."  I mean, WTF?  (I've said that twice in this recap now, haven't I?  Remind me again of why I was looking forward to this book?)

Then, just in time, Ashleigh and Cindy et. al. throw Sammy a surprise wedding shower, and make plans for a horseback wedding next week.  I guess they've been taking a page out of The Saddle Club.  Sammy rides sidesaddle on Pride, which, aside from the whole wedding dress and sidesaddle and horseback wedding and that hideous pink thing she's wearing on the cover, is kind of sweet.  Samantha and Tor open presents and discover that they're going to Ireland for a month for a honeymoon.

Then we are blasted back to the present, in which apparently Samantha has been talking to herself the whole time Ashleigh, Christina, and Cindy have been cleaning out the room.  Well, what can I say.  I guess Cindy doesn't have a monopoly on complete and total obliviousness.

Points of Interest:
  • We find out that Max Smith went to vet school in California and is presumably a vet out there.  This is a pretty good throwaway line, since a) it explains what happened to him, b) it gives a reasonable explanation for why he and his mom aren't around, and c) he mentioned wanting to be a vet in the first book he appeared in (Glory's Triumph).  Of course, Cindy "wanted" to be a vet then too.  How times have changed.
  • Apparently Samantha sometimes slips "into a hint of the Irish brogue she had picked up from her years in Ireland."  Having lived with people from the UK and Australia in high school, I can verify that this is true, but my god, it sounds so ridiculous.
  • For Yvonne's wedding, Samantha carries a bouquet of "yellow rosebuds and pink-tinged orchids … tiny blue forget-me-nots and delicate fronds of maidenhair fern." Maybe Mary Newhall was a florist in another life. 
  • Apparently Tor's barn has been called Whisperwood the whole time, like say, during those 15 Old Generation books when it didn't have a name.  This makes more sense than Tor and Samantha moving back from Ireland and buying a different barn and naming it Whisperwood, but it doesn't seem like a very Mr. Nelson-ish name to me.  (Claire also mentioned this in her recap of Racing Parker, the first time we encountered this Whispercrap.)
  • Wonderpony watch:  Vic Taleski rides a daughter of Glory and Princess.  Her name isn't mentioned; my money's on March to Princess.
  • Leap of Faith appears in this book as a broodmare.  What the eff … I don't even try to keep track of her anymore.
  • Mandy draws a picture of a chestnut horse, which "looks exactly like Shining."  Except for the part where Shining is a roan.  Perhaps she's turning into a full Wonderpony.
  • Ashleigh rides a two-year-old name Jazz Dancer, a son of Blues King and Precocious.  I think they should have insisted on a paternity test.  With that name, he is obviously by Jazzman.

Next up:  Ah, the lost-diary-from-the-past book that rivals Cindy's Desert Adventure for the winner of the Stupidest Title Award:  Samantha's Irish Luck.

Feb 18, 2013

Apparently the price of fame is to look goofy and wear hideous pink shirts. TB #64: The Price of Fame.

The Price of Fame
Thoroughbred #64
By Mary Newhall
April 2004

Christina saved Star from a stalker, but can she protect him from Brad Townsend?

When Christina first moved Star to Townsend Acres to keep him safe from his stalker, she couldn't stand the thought of keeping him under Brad's roof. But now that they've settled in, she can't complain: The facilities are great and Brad is keeping a polite distance. But just when Christina begins to let down her guard, she makes a shocking discovery. …

It turns out Brad is under a great deal of pressure from his investors to produce more moneymaking horses—horses bred from winners like Star and Light Fandango, a descendant of the famous Kentucky Derby winner Northern Dancer. Christina begins to suspect that Brad will force her to breed Star with one of his mares as payment for boarding Star. Christina will do anything to keep Star safe from Brad, but will she have a choice?

The Summary:

This is probably the most accurate summary I've read lately.  In fact, I considered just copy and pasting the first paragraph below, because that's basically the deal:  Townsend Acres is beautiful and well-managed, but Christina and Melanie wonder what on earth they're doing there.  Of course, you have to deduct about six points for the two famous horsie references in the second paragraph.

The Cover:

Oh man.  I'm pretty sure this travesty was the reason I wanted to get back into writing recaps.  That, and because it pays so well.  Anyway, the style is just completely bizarre, sort of like a cross between anime and CGI.  Or is anime all computer-generated these days anyway?  Well, whatever.  It looks 100% strange and cartoonish.  Christina's eyes (assuming that's Christina) are as big as Star's and I guess it's just the angle at which she's lovingly and protectively lying across his neck, but she also looks like the fattest jockey in existence.

The Plot:

So after Christina's questionable taste in new friends, she retreats to Townsend Acres with Star, even though the stalker left for California at the end of the last book.  I'm not completely clear on why Christina didn't just take Star back to Whitebrook and agree not to befriend any more weirdo stalkers, but I guess they had to get Christina to TA somehow, since, as we all know, Melanie isn't good enough to carry a plot on her own.  I mean, it wasn't good enough that Melanie wanted to be a jockey and Christina wanted to event, oh nooooo, Christina had to want to race too.  Whatever.  So Melanie is working with Jinx, who is even crazier than Image.  She's also agreed to let Brad breed Image to Celtic Mist.

The first third or so of this book involves Townsend Acres being beautiful and well-managed, but Christina and Melanie wondering what on earth they're doing there.  Christina overhears Brad and Lavinia talking about a syndicate meeting that Brad has to attend.  Apparently this means that Brad sells shares of his horses to investors so he can keep having cash to make improvements to his beautiful, well-managed farm.

Brad invites Christina and Melanie to dine with him (complete with "chilled forks"—is that a thing?) and asks them to exercise-ride some horses for Ralph Dunkirk.  Most of this dinner is actually taken up by Brad's snide comments about Christina and her parents.  Confession time:  I am not a big Brad fan.  I don't think he's Batman and I had a really hard time writing that Brad/Ashleigh challenge ficlet that Mara asked for one time.  But here he's probably the most interesting he's been since the OG books because everything he says is true:  Ashleigh and Mike have never really shown off Whitebrook.  Almost every great winner they've had did come from TA bloodlines (except for Glory, and TA owns half of Glory anyway).  Brad says, "The animals we breed and train are income-producing stock. The challenge of breeding for racing excellence, to become the best, is what it's all about."  Christina counters with, "Horses are glorious, magnificent creatures with personalities, and there's nothing so wonderful as connecting with one of them," and while that's probably what we're supposed to think, it sounds pretty ridiculous right this moment.  There was an early Saddle Club book that featured horse-racing and Carole coming to the realization that some horses are not just for fun and worth a couple hundred or maybe a thousand dollars; for some, they are big money and it's almost like they're not the same animal as a pleasure horse at all.  Sorry, Christina, but I think you lose this round.

Oh, and this is so important that it gets its own paragraph:  after Christina's little declaration, Brad comes back with, "I don't need to get attached to the horses to enjoy the benefits they provide me."  I guess maybe it's true; he never did love another horse after they had to destroy Townsend Prince.

Christina rides some horses with incredibly stupid names:  Townsend's Silver Spoon, TA Illumination, and Pride's Light Fandango.  Light Fandango is the one who's supposed to be important, because he has Northern Dancer bloodlines (famous horsie reference of the book).  Also, I think some of those names exceed the 18-character limit, unless that's supposed to mean "Silver Spoon who belongs to Townsend" and "Light Fandango who belongs to Pride" … no, that doesn't make any sense.

Surprising no one, Light Fandango is amazing and all that.  Ralph asks her to ride him in the Kentucky Cup.  At first Christina says no, because "Brad would never want me to race a Townsend Acres horse."  Ralph says that's true (zing!) but they need a jockey, so Christina says yes.  Jinx has been performing well, so Melanie plans to enter him in the Kentucky Cup.  She can't believe it when Christina says she's agreed to ride Light Fandango for TA.  Christina tells Ashleigh, who is clearly pissed but decides to go the passive-aggressive route and say she doesn't mind.

The Kentucky Cup happens (that was quick).  Melanie wins on Jinx, Christina brings Light Fandango in second, one of Ghyllian Hollis' colts runs third, and a Whitebrook horse named American Jazz is fourth.  Light Fandango is really tired, so Ralph says they'll leave him at the track overnight.  Christina gets back to TA just in time to find Brad showing off for the investors, who do not seem impressed.  They don't want Celtic Mist's bloodlines, they want a Wonderpony, and Brad failed in his quest to get Champion back to TA.  They ask if Star will stand stud at TA.

Christina freaks out and wants to move Star right away, accusing Brad of planning this.  Brad just rolls his eyes and tells her, "I didn't find someone to stalk your horse so that I could offer to let you keep Star here, I didn't call my foreign investors and invite them to have an unplanned stockholders' meeting so that I could show off Star and Image, and I didn't tell them Star is mine."  Brad tries three different tactics:  first he tells her, "We're really not all that different, you and I. We both like to compete and we both like to win. … For all your righteousness, you're as aggressive and focused as I am. The big difference is that I recognize it in myself, and I'm okay with it."  When that doesn't work, he says that if she loves Parker, she should want Brad to be successful so he can inherit TA someday.  When that still doesn't work, Brad tells her that if she takes Star away from TA, he'll buy Image from Jazz.  Well, that does it.  Christina's not sure what to do.

Melanie gets back to the farm and gets a call from Jazz.  Turns out Brad has already made the offer, and Jazz is considering it.  Melanie is heartbroken.

Christina spends several pages stewing and moping, until she comes up with a brilliant plan.  (Note generous use of "brilliant" in that sentence.)  She goes to Whitebrook to talk it over with Ashleigh and Mike.  They agree, but to draw out the suspense, we don't find out what the plan is for about 10 pages.

Christina goes back to TA with a ginormous check for Brad—the amount of money she won in the Belmont.  Christina says it's to pay for Image's therapy and for Brad to relinquish his interest in her first foal.  She and Brad get to do a little more verbal sparring, in which Brad tells her that "I get the same thrill out of cutting a smart business deal as you get winning a race. We have different priorities, but it's all about using your skills to come in first," and Christina can't really disagree.  In the end, Brad agrees, but adds one condition to the deal:  "A breeding with Star to the mare of my choice."  Christina figures he's just trying to get a foal out of Image, so she stipulates, "Any mare that is owned by TA."  Brad grimaces and says, "You outmaneuvered me on that one," which I don't really get.  I mean, they haven't signed anything, so they could just as easily continue to argue about it (though maybe the whole point is that Christina figured out what Brad was trying to get out of the condition?).  Christina's final condition is that Brad not tell Melanie or Parker about their deal.  Brad tells Christina that he'll call Jazz and she should get off the farm that night.

Then we have one more chapter in which Image is no one's Wonderpony and refuses to get on the damn trailer, and Christina and Melanie go back to Whitebrook and we end with a scene so sappy it rivals Full House, in which "all the nice stuff in the world doesn't mean a thing if it doesn't feel like home."  Thanks, Ashleigh.  That would mean a lot more coming from you if you weren't the worst mother since Alice Wakefield.

Points of Interest:
  • Ah, OG canon check:  passed!  "Aunt Caroline" did indeed date Brad before he met Lavinia.
  • Melanie is thinking of "Misty Image" as a name for the foal.  That's great Mel, because we don't have enough horses that sound like My Little Ponies.  I guess that's better than Perfect Celtic.
  • One of the investors says that Townsend Pride "hasn't sired a foal of any renown for years."  If he were still alive, he'd been awfully old by this time.  In Ashleigh's Diary he is four, which I've always thought was a bit of a weird retcon given that Wonder would have been conceived that year, and the way they were talking about Townsend Pride's foals, it seemed like he'd been at stud for a lot longer than that.  But okay, if we accept that he was born when Ashleigh was seven, he'd be 35 years old now.  Maybe he needs horse Viagra.

Next up:  Sorry, I forgot that The Price of Fame hadn't been recapped, so next it really is the Samantha weddingfest of Bridal Dreams.

Feb 4, 2013

Try not to yawn as much through this recap as I did through the book. Thoroughbred #60: Taking the Reins

Taking the Reins
Thoroughbred #60

By Jennifer Chu

August 2003

It's time for Christina and Melanie to make some big decisions.

Christina loves being a jockey. But a heartbreaking accident at the Belmont track forces her to reconsider veterinary medicine. Working with a horse that has Charismatic's bloodlines reminds Christina of Charismatic's amazing story—how he unexpectedly won the Derby and the Preakness in 1999, only to go down in the Belmont with a broken leg. It would feel pretty great to help horses in similar situations. But how can she turn her back on Wonder's Star?

Meanwhile, Melanie finds her relationship with her cousin strained when she decides to ride a horse for the very couple Christina holds responsible for her accident. For Melanie, her prospects as a jockey seem clear, but her future with the people she loves—Christina, Jazz, and even Image—is less certain. How will Melanie prove to Christina that she puts the people she loves first?

The Summary:

I will give it a generous 2/10.  Yes, there is a heartbreaking accident.  Christina goes on and on about being a vet (again).  Other than that, everything, including that entire second paragraph, is bullshit.  Their relationship is strained for, like, maybe half a page.

The Cover:

Um, the less said about this travesty, the better.  Are there even stirrups on that saddle?  Why does Christina look like she's riding a rocking horse?  Why is that horse's head a veiny mess?  (Though to be fair, if I were having a "heartbreaking accident," my face would probably be a veiny mess too.)  Also, let's note that the front-cover tag says "Will Charismatic's tragedy cause Christina to give up her dreams of being a jockey?"  Sorry, HarperCollins, not even close.

The Plot:

This book zips back and forth between Christina and Melanie, until it doesn't anymore.  So chapter 1 is a Christina chapter.  We pick up after the Belmont—literally right after; Christina's still standing in the winner's circle talking to reporters—when Christina runs into Patrick and Amanda Johnston, those annoying California people.  They ask her to ride one of their fillies, Noble Answer (Nobie). Christina and Parker get back together … right before he goes back to England and she stays at Belmont for the rest of the summer.  Yeah, that makes sense.

Chapter 2:  Melanie wins a race on Blue Streak for the Johnstons.  She talks to Jazz on the phone.  Jazz tells her that Image is doing well, but Brad's served them with a massive bill, shocking no one.  Melanie angsts about whether she should give Image's first foal to Brad to pay the bills.

Chapter 3:  Christina rides some horses for the Johnstons and agrees to ride Matter of Time (Matt) in the Suburban.  She goes out to dinner with Aaron, and tells him that she got back together with Parker.  Burn.  Aaron gets sick, and Christina exercises Calm Before the Storm (Callie).

Chapter 4:  Melanie and Jazz have a hot date that includes walking Image and eating turkey and ham sandwiches.  Damn, they rival Christina and Parker for Passionate Romance of the Thoroughbred Century.  Jazz says he wants to buy another racehorse.

Chapter 5:  Christina rides Callie in a race.  He stumbles.  She's not sure what to do, but he keeps running, so she lets him … until he stumbles again.  He goes down, shattering some bones and tearing some tendons.  They haul him off to the vet clinic, which I think is the same as when they tell us at the shelter that a cat went to "the barn program."

Chapter 6:  Melanie asks Cindy for advice about being a jockey.  I’m not sure that Cindy is the right person to ask about this.  Melanie goes to Whitebrook for dinner with Ashleigh, Mike, Ian, Beth, Kevin, Sammy, Tor, Cindy, Ben … Jesus, what is this, a Whitebrook reunion?  These characters actually still talk to each other?  You could've fooled me. Christina calls to tell them about the accident.

Chapter 7:  The vet, Dr. Reuter, tries to operate on Callie, but he has "no chance of a meaningful recovery."  His owner, Marisa, agrees to have him put down.  Christina asks to see him, but the vet says that "he's in too much pain to recognize anyone."  Ahh, not bad work here, Jennifer, 'cause sometimes this is true.  (I may be a little bitter about this trope, having recently reread Goodbye, Midnight Wanderer.)  Christina gets all self-flagellating (wow, that sounds dirty) and blames herself for Callie's death.

Chapter 8:  Melanie goes to Belmont.  The Johnstons offer her a ride on one of their horses, Enigmatic, if Christina doesn't take it.

Chapter 9:  Christina is nervous and insecure about riding.  She lets Charisma get away from her during a work.  She's called to an inquiry about Callie's death.  She wonders if the Johnstons rushed him back to the track before he was sound.  Christina declines the ride on Enigmatic, and Amanda tells her that they already asked Melanie as a backup.  Christina proceeds to flip out and wonder how Melanie could possibly consider riding for such awful people who would kill a poor innocent defenseless horse.  Honestly, even for Christina, this is a stretch.

Chapter 10:  Melanie rides Enigmatic.  The stewards have dismissed the inquiry into Callie's death.  Christina is all sulky and crap, until Aaron shows her a tape of the race and she can't see the moment when Callie first stumbled.  After that, she's still all sulky and crap, but tells Melanie she just needs some time, and that she wants to be a vet.  Well, that wasn't so bad.  Only a few books of angsting and moaning; we're making progress here.

Chapter 11:  Christina tours Dr. Reuter's Super Secret Outer Space Other Hemisphere Ten Way vet facility and is all jazzed about being a vet, but decides she has to keep her word to the Johnstons and ride Matt in the Suburban.

Chapter 12:  Jazz comes to Belmont.  He tells Melanie that he made a deal with Brad:  they'll breed Image to Celtic Mist, and Jazz and Brad will share ownership of the foal 51-49.  Jazz and Melanie agree to look for another racehorse.

Chapter 13:  Christina rides Matt in the Suburban.  She's overly cautious, and at first he's 15 lengths off the lead.  Then she decides to snap out of it, and eventually brings him in third.  And thus ends Christina's racing career (I hope).  Thank God.  I've been waiting for this since book 40.

Points of Interest:
  • This book is dedicated to "Barbara, Charlene, Cindy, Dominique, Marisa, and Patrick in honor of all our undergrad adventures," who all pop up as characters.  Barbara, Charlene, and Dominique are Melanie and Katie's friends; Marisa is Callie's owner, and of course Patrick is Patrick Johnston.  There's no Cindy, I guess because it would be too confusing with real!Cindy.  I can't decide if I find this sweet or annoying.
  • We all know that Jennifer Chu was a fan of the books before she ever wrote any of them, which I normally like, but she's very hit-or-miss about the little details she throws in.  She tells us that Cindy missed riding Honor Bright, which is correct; she would've been eighteen (and in Dubai, then New York) when Honor was three.  We also find out that Honor and Glory's daughter, Honor and Glory (how's that for creative?  They must've really been missing Cindy's magic touch with the naming there), ran third in the Derby the year Christina was ten.  However, Jennifer also feels the need to remind us that "Cindy had played a large role in March to Glory's training. The horse had set a record in the Breeders' Cup Classic and had been named Horse of the Year after his three-year-old season."  As if anyone could have forgotten (and believe me, some of us tried).
  • Also, Christina later rides March to Honor, another of Honor and Glory's foals.  I hope they didn’t have more than two; what would they have called it, March to Bright?
  • In a well-meaning but misguided attempt to comfort Christina, Melanie tells her, "You have to believe that Callie will make it, just like Raven and Image did."  Yeah, that helps a lot, Melanie.  So far, I guess the accident count is Melanie 1, Christina 2.
  • Whitebrook has a horse named Charisma, a daughter of Pride, not to be confused with Charismatic, who won the Derby and the Preakness in 1999 but broke down in the Belmont.  His jockey, Chris Antley, acted quickly to save his life.  Does that sound familiar?  I hope so, because that's your Famous Horsie reference of the book.
  • Melanie thinks that maybe "Enigma" would be a good nickname for "Enigmatic."  She really has  been spending time with Cindy.
  • Is it bad that I keep getting this book mixed up with Breaking the Fall?   Not on the basis of plot, just on the basis of title.  (Or maybe on the basis of plot after all; I think Breaking the Fall also features Christina and Melanie supposedly having a "fight" of some sort.)  I was always sort of glad that the Thoroughbred titling convention stayed far, far away from the Baby-Sitters Club-esque style of "Christina and the Broken Leg of Doom," but at the same time, it would be nice if the titles actually helped you keep the storylines straight.

Next up:  The hideously-titled Parker's Passion, already reviewed by Claire.  Next up from me:  I can't believe I'm about to say this, but in comparison to this festival of tedium, I'm almost looking forward to the Samantha Diary of Exposition.