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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:

The modest desert hospital looks like a casting call for Men in Black IV - guys dressed in black wearing Ray Bans loiter in the hall, the lobby, the parking lot.  

Gus is on his cell phone, nearly frantic.

“Yeah Harry, it’s me …

“Whatdayamean he never showed?  Burbank private, yeah. The private airport. …  “Holy crap, you sure as hell better find out where he is.  They might wake Ace up and I don’t want to be the one to tell him we lost his grandkid.”

CUT TO:

At the reception counter to the Executive Offices of the racetrack, two suits flash their FBI badges, one handing a slip of paper to the switchboard operator. 

“I need to know who gets calls at this number,” he says.

“Just a second,” replies the operator, flustered. “That would be the Track President’s line.” 

“Then that’s who we’d like to see,” snaps the other suit. “Pronto.”

CUT TO:

The Flack trails the Old Man as he leads Gettin’ Up Morning around his walking ring.

“So you’re not taking him to the track again today?” says the Flack.

“I didn’t like the way he moved behind after that breeze,” answers Smith.

“Nothing serious, right?” says the Flack, nervous as a hen.

CUT TO:

Goose sits on a tack trunk in Marylyn’s office.

“I can’t believe you let them put Carlos Crispino on this horse,” says Goose. “We call him the human anchor.”

“Give me a break,” she says. “You could ride this horse and he’d win. How many passes should I leave for your partners?”

“Don’t worry about it,” says Goose. “Twenty should do.”

Marylyn laughs, “I just hope the photographer has a wide-angle lens.”

CUT TO:

One FBI agent pokes at some documents on a side table while the other questions the Track President.

“So tell me, if you don’t know Michael Smythe,” he says, “why he called this number so many times?”

CUT TO:

Ace’s cellphone rings. The caller id reads “BLOCKED.”

“Hello?” Gus answers.

“Claire … Miss Lechea, yeah, you heard. Where you been, anyway?”

He listens for a few beats.

“Yeah, no, he’s doing great … well as can be expected. No calls right now, Doctor’s orders, but I’ll tell him you called.”

He listens.

“Yeah, noisy, those airports. I’ll keep you posted.”

CUT TO:

Joey Rathburn’s lawyer hands him a document.

“I guess your fellow agents got together and posted your bail,” he says. “Somebody named ‘Lionel Pointer’ put up the cash, five thousand.”

Rathburn eyes the receipt.

“Never heard of him,” he shrugs.

CUT TO:

Through the glass door, Escalante can see Jo and Eduardo as his attorney hands him a document.

“They’re releasing you. The fingerprints matched those of Mulligan’s groom, the one he fired last week. Last seen heading for Mexico City,” he says.

“Your wife posted bond, pending your appearances for the unregistered gun.”

“What a surprise,” says Escalante. “But, anyway, she’s not my wife.”

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

Episode 6, Part I, All My Fault

Episode 6, Part II, You're a Genius

The Old Man and Anna, the reporter, are camped at a corner table, sharing lunch in the track kitchen.

“So many years, isn’t it too late to be bringing this up again, dredging through the mud?” says the trainer.

“Don’t you want the truth to come out?” she asks.

“Of course I do,” he snaps, “just getting tired of carrying it around.”

“I tried to get Luther for his version of what happened that night,” she says.

“Slight problem … he’s dead.”

“Oh my,” says Smith.

“But there’s no statute of limitations on fraud” she says. “Or murder.”

CUT TO:

Renzo’s mom smiles at the young doctor across the desk, fiddling with her hair as he makes notes.

“No, I’m fine, no aches or pains at all,” she says. “Most people do think I look much younger than my actual age.”

The doctor tries to prompt her.

“Sleep problems?” he asks.

“Sleeping like a baby,” she replies.

“Gimme something here, lady.  You must have some complaint,” he says. “Hot flashes, lightheadedness? Anything?”

“I ran into George Hamilton at the gelato place last night and had a palpitation,” she says.

“Good enough for me,” he says, stamping her application.

CUT TO:

At the entrance to the jockey’s room, a technician hands Ronnie Jenkins a straw, points to the breathalyzer,

“Your turn to blow, big boy,” he says.

CUT TO:

Marcus scrawls numbers on the motel note pad, hands it to Renzo, who’s waiting with Lonnie and Chaz.

“Try not to screw this up,” he says.

“If you do, make sure you win more money,” laughs Jerry from the other room.

“Fat chance,” snaps Marcus. “Just don’t get robbed.”

“I could fix this up, make it wireless for you,” says Lonnie, pointing to Marcus’ new computer monitors.

“Sure you can’t come, Marcus?” asks Renzo. “You haven’t missed one of Mon Gateau’s races yet. And Goose’s horse is running too!”

Renzo smiles, “I’m hoping to get my brother in the winner’s circle.”

“I’ll watch ’em both right here,’’ says Marcus,

“I don’t dare leave his highness alone yet. He might fall out of bed again.”

Renzo’s counting the cash in his manila envelope.

“I could have sworn I had more than this,” he says.

CUT TO:

Rathburn’s at the door to the Jock’s Room. 

“I’d like to see Rosie and Ronnie, please,” he says to the Security Guard.

“Ronnie came up positive, he’s going home,” says the Guard, “smells like a gin mill.  I’ll get Rosie for you.”

“Positive for alcohol?” says Joey. “That’s impossible, he’s in AA.”

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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