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Blog - POP CULTURE

Art courtesy of Jen Ferguson

This feature contains adult content intended for mature audiences

Note from author John Perrotta: This blog is the writer’s depiction of an imagined racetrack-based story, an ongoing saga, which includes some of the characters depicted in the ill-fated “Luck” series.

Cast of characters

The “Degenerates”

Marcus - wheelchair-bound since falling from a tree as a child, he’s irascible but sensitive, and his world revolves around trying to pick winners at the track. 

Jerry – Marcus’ best friend, a player in many senses of the word, he’s a clever horse handicapper with a weakness for Texas Hold ’Em poker and good-looking women. 

Renzo - a sweet guy who’s not that great at handicapping but loves the familial relationship of a group of gamblers. 

Lonnie – another good soul who has a load of self-esteem issues and deals with them by trying to be the “cool” one.

red white blue Bar

Ronnie Jenkins – a veteran jockey nearing the end of a career. He’s a former top rider and Derby winner but suffers from PTSD after a series of spills and wants one more chance with a “big” horse.

Joey Rathburn – longtime jockey agent, he has toiled in ambiguity for years and now has a shot at the gold ring.

Rosie Shanahan – the Irish import, she’s moved up from exercise girl to jockey and is proving she can hold her own with the boys.

Walter Smith – an old-school horseman, he’s come to California with his only horse to get away from bad memories in Kentucky.  When the horse turns out to be a real runner, he gets more attention than he wanted.

Turo Escalante – a Peruvian misanthrope, he’s a skilled horseman with a big ego that gets tested when a talented horse with shady connections lands in his barn.

Ace Bernstein – mob-connected “businessman” who has done time for a frame-up, and now he is looking for revenge.  Bernstein loves the track and has a dream of resurrecting the sport.

Gus Demitriou – Ace’s longtime driver, bodyguard and confidante.  Winning a big slot jackpot fixed by Ace, he’s been the beard for the purchase of a talented Irish colt.

Mike Smythe – an evil mob guy who framed Ace and is obsessed with making his life difficult.  Sometimes seems like the devil himself.

Goose – the “fifth wheel” of the Degenerates, he’s a lifetime racetracker who gambles every day and occasionally trains horses. He and Renzo bonded when they tried to claim Mon Gateau.

Bayou Bobby – the short-order cook in the Jockeys’ Room — a perennial wise guy.

Birddog – a shady jockey agent.

Chaz – Renzo’s little brother, done with a stint in rehab.

Moonbeam – Renzo’s waitress girlfriend from the diner.

Naomi – Jerry’s card-dealer girlfriend.

Kitti – one of Ronnie Jenkin’s ex-wives, she’s a former Las Vegas showgirl with a wild streak.

FADE IN:

“Doctor says he needs to stay here; forget about moving him for a while,” says Gus.

“How long will they have to keep him in the coma?” asks Brent.

“Until the swelling around his brain goes down, maybe a day, maybe a week. Who knows?”

The Greeks’ eyes are filled with tears.

“All my fault … ”

CUT TO:

Miguel hustles past Clocker’s Corner with the Flack hot on his tail.

“So, Escalante will still be the trainer of record?” asks the Flack.

Miguel answers in Spanish, no help to the Flack.

“Are they going to let him out on bail?” he asks as Miguel ignores him, raising binoculars to watch a horse on the backstretch.

CUT TO:

Smythe’s on a house phone at the lobby bar in the Intercontinental Hotel, swirling a glass of Malbec.

“My dear Cohen,” he says, “tell them whatever you like about your friend DiRossi. I’m in Buenos Aires on a business trip, tending my Argentine interests. You do have my deepest sympathies.”

He listens and laughs.

“How in the world did he get in the trunk of your car?”

CUT TO:

Rathburn tries to convince his lawyer. 

“Intent to sell … ” says Rathburn. “Like I even know what the stuff is. I think I tried to smoke it once, but I’m sure I didn’t inhale.”

“Two pounds of hashish is no small offense,” says the lawyer.

CUT TO:

A few cells away, Escalante’s lawyer spells it out for him.

“You didn’t have a permit for the handgun they found in your house … plus you were already arrested for assault and battery on him, then threatened him in public … several times,” he says.

“And you guys have been in a claiming war with for months.”

Escalante’s indignant.

“I was saving those horses from him. Effing horse abuser … that somebody should have stabbed up a long time ago,” snaps Escalante.

“Great. Keep up that kind of talk, my friend, and it’ll be murder-one real fast,” says the lawyer.

“So when can I get out of here?” 

“Depends on whether the judge thinks you’re a flight risk,” replies the attorney. “Let’s hope he even lets you post bail.”

CUT TO: 

Out of Luck Blog Archive

Episode 1, Buy Low, Sell High

Episode 2, Part I, Say Hello to My Baby

Episode 2, Part II, Try Not to Screw It Up

Episode 3, Part I, Hope You Had Fun

Episode 3, Part II, Make It Official

Episode 4, Have a Nice Evening

Episode 5, Just a Friend

Anna’s leaning on a tack trunk, taking notes as the Old Man recalls a January night in Kentucky several years ago.

“I thought it was odd, Luther calling in sick. Luther, he’s night watchman. He mostly just kept them watered off, there in case any got cast in their stall, caught up agin’ the wall. Never missed a night in ten years I was there, before that,” mused the Old Man. 

“And you went to the barn when you heard Delphi?” she prompts.

“Screaming bloody murder, he was. Called the vet going out the door and he was there in fifteen, twenty minutes. Insurance guy right behind him, too.”

“And you called him too?” asks Anna.

“Who?” asks the trainer.

“The insurance guy,” she says.

“Nah. Colonel’s son-in-law called him I guess,” says Smith, “right away.”

CUT TO:

“Make the rider Shanahan, Rosie Shanahan,” says Marylyn the trainer as a clerk fills out the entry blank, “and hope the race goes.”

When she steps out of the booth, Goose is waiting.

“Anybody tough in there?” he says.

“Don’t matter,” says the trainer. “Nobody’s beating him unless they grow wings. You can tell the owners to come and get their pictures took.”

“Great,” nods Goose with a wan smile.

CUT TO:

From the porch of the Jockey’s Room, Rosie and the Clerk of Scales can see Kitti reading Ronnie the riot act in the center of the paddock.

“That’s what they call a love-hate relationship,” says Rosie.

“He has no fear of those thousand-pound horses, but her he’s scared to death of,” says the Clerk of Scales.

CUT TO:

Lonnie and Renzo are at the program vendor’s kiosk.

“Get one for me,” says Lonnie. “All’s I’ve got is hundreds.”

“I got to go back,” says Renzo,

“We must have left Marcus’ numbers in the car.”

“No biggie, it was a Pick 3,” says Lonnie, smiling at the girl selling programs. “Three, four, five with five singled with one, three, 12 for two hundred.”

“Wasn’t it the Pick 4?” Renzo wonders aloud.

“Or three, four, five with one … ” says Lonnie. “Maybe you better go check the car.”

CUT TO:

At the motel, Marcus’s attention is diverted from the race odds on his computer screen by the sound of a small bell ringing.

“Yeah, I’m coming,” he snaps, hitting the ‘BET NOW’ icon on the screen before wheeling his chair to Jerry’s adjacent room.

“Where this idiot Renzo comes up with the idea of a bell, I don’t know, but I do know where I’m going to stick it when he gets back,” says Marcus.

“Said it was his Nana’s. Could I get some cranberry?” ribs Jerry, as he gives the bell another shake just to irritate Marcus.

“Very funny, but I’m trying to get down for the late double at Turfway. Here’s your juice, princess.”

FADE OUT:

TO BE CONTINUED …

©  2013    John R. Perrotta

 

 

Image Description

John Perrotta

John Perrotta is a lifelong horseman who has experience in nearly every aspect of the Thoroughbred racing and breeding business. 

A University of Miami graduate, Perrotta in 1978 became one of the first professional racing managers in the U.S., coordinating business affairs for the John Forbes Stable, one of the leading barns in the country, before accepting the position of General Manager with Robert Brennan’s Due Process Stables in 1981. 

During a 15-year career as its vice president and general manager, Due Process Stables consistently was one of the premier national leaders and raced such champions as Deputy Minister and Dehere plus 45 other individual stakes winners. Due Process Stables also bred two-time Eclipse Award winner Open Mind.

Since the Due Process dispersal in 1995, Perrotta has raced multiple stakes winners in his Star Stable and was the co-breeder of 1996 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Touch Gold.

In 2004, Perrotta created the Thoroughbred Racing Radio Network, acting as president and executive producer. TRRN is exclusively dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of information regarding Thoroughbred racing and is a leading radio/internet outlet for the sport.

Beginning in March 2009, Perrotta was employed as a producer and screen writer/executive story editor/co-producer as well as technical consultant for Red Board Productions, working on the pilot and subsequent HBO series called “Luck,” which premiered on that network in January 2012.  

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Fergie2

Jen Ferguson is an artist whose interest in depicting racehorses and track life goes back to early childhood, when she was obsessed with drawing horses and jockeys out of Blood-Horse magazines she got from her uncle, who owned and raced Thoroughbreds. In fact, her first childhood drawings were of racehorses.

In 2009, she published a book of drawings and stories based on expeditions to Aqueduct titled “Railbirds: My Life at the Track.” Jen spent last August working on drawings at Saratoga Race Course and plans to return for the 2013 meet. She currently works in Brooklyn, N.Y., where she draws regularly at Aqueduct and Belmont Park. If you see her sketching at the track, say hello!

More of Jen’s work plus her racetrack sketchbook in progress can be seen at jenferguson.com

Image Description

John Perrotta

John Perrotta is a lifelong horseman who has experience in nearly every aspect of the Thoroughbred racing and breeding business. 

A University of Miami graduate, Perrotta in 1978 became one of the first professional racing managers in the U.S., coordinating business affairs for the John Forbes Stable, one of the leading barns in the country, before accepting the position of General Manager with Robert Brennan’s Due Process Stables in 1981. 

During a 15-year career as its vice president and general manager, Due Process Stables consistently was one of the premier national leaders and raced such champions as Deputy Minister and Dehere plus 45 other individual stakes winners. Due Process Stables also bred two-time Eclipse Award winner Open Mind.

Since the Due Process dispersal in 1995, Perrotta has raced multiple stakes winners in his Star Stable and was the co-breeder of 1996 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Touch Gold.

In 2004, Perrotta created the Thoroughbred Racing Radio Network, acting as president and executive producer. TRRN is exclusively dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of information regarding Thoroughbred racing and is a leading radio/internet outlet for the sport.

Beginning in March 2009, Perrotta was employed as a producer and screen writer/executive story editor/co-producer as well as technical consultant for Red Board Productions, working on the pilot and subsequent HBO series called “Luck,” which premiered on that network in January 2012.  

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Fergie2

Jen Ferguson is an artist whose interest in depicting racehorses and track life goes back to early childhood, when she was obsessed with drawing horses and jockeys out of Blood-Horse magazines she got from her uncle, who owned and raced Thoroughbreds. In fact, her first childhood drawings were of racehorses.

In 2009, she published a book of drawings and stories based on expeditions to Aqueduct titled “Railbirds: My Life at the Track.” Jen spent last August working on drawings at Saratoga Race Course and plans to return for the 2013 meet. She currently works in Brooklyn, N.Y., where she draws regularly at Aqueduct and Belmont Park. If you see her sketching at the track, say hello!

More of Jen’s work plus her racetrack sketchbook in progress can be seen at jenferguson.com

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