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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:

Brent’s on the cell phone with his grandfather.

“The place is rockin’, gramps,” says Brent. “Like you always say, ‘Good horses bring a crowd.’ ”

He looks out his office window.

“The betting lines for the first race are 10 deep.”

CUT TO:

Marcus and Jerry traverse the parking lot toward the grandstand entrance.

“We’re cooked if Mon Gateau doesn’t make money today,” says Marcus.

“What about Goose’s horse? We have a piece of him, too?” says Jerry.

“Maiden, running in a stakes race … no shot,” snaps Marcus.

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

Episode 7, Part I, What a Surprise

Episode 7, Part II, Hard to Miss

Episode 8, Part I, I'll Be Ready

Episode 8, Part II, Yes, My Dear

Episode 9, Part I, Just Lovely

CUT TO:

Goose hangs at the periphery of the crowd of owners waiting for Daylight Savings in the paddock walking ring.

“Here he comes,” says Goose, and the crowd turns.

“I think he got bigger,” says Goose.

CUT TO:

Marylyn gives Rosie a leg up on Daylight Savings.

“Stay outside … let him roll at the quarter pole,” she says.

“See you in the winner’s circle,” replies Rosie.

Goose watches as the colt gives a buck, feeling good.

“Think he’s getting hot?” he asks the trainer as they file out of the paddock.

CUT TO:

Escalante and Jo arrive at the assembly barn with Pint of Plain at the same time as Smith does with Gettin’ Up Morning.  The Old Man tips his hat to Jo.

“Good luck, senor,” says the Old Man.

“Same to you, my friend,” says Escalante. “You know my new wife, si?”

CUT TO:

Claire Lechea peeks out the window at the rainforest below as she adjusts her eyeshades, ready for a nap.

“Can I get you anything?” asks the flight attendant.

“Everything’s perfect,” replies Claire.

CUT TO:

Goose presses the ‘REPEAT BET’ icon on the self-service betting machine, scoops a handful of win tickets on Daylight Savings and blesses himself with the sign of the cross.

“I thought you were Jewish,” says one of his friends in the next line.

“Covering all bases,” says Goose.

CUT TO:

On the television, Goose’s ecstatic group poses for their win photo with Daylight Savings.

“I hope she rides our horse just like she did that one,” says Gus, binoculars and Racing Form in hand.

The somber Bernstein merely nods agreement as Gus leaves for the track.

CUT TO:

Rathburn and Birddog watch at the paddock rail as the horses stand awaiting the paddock judge to call, “Rider’s up.”

“Could be a big payday for you, Joey.  Your jocks on both of the favorites,”

says Birddog.

“That’s my life. I’m always either in the outhouse or the penthouse,” jokes Rathburn,

as the horses get ready  to move.

CUT TO:

At the other side of the paddock, the Degenerates meet their new jockey.

“Ladies and gentlemens,” says a smiling Carlos Crispino, tipping his helmet to Moonbeam and Wanda as he shakes hands with Jerry, Marcus, Renzo and Lonnie.

“I wonder where mom is?” says Renzo.

“Maybe she got busy in the kitchen,” says Chaz, casting a furtive glance at the crowd.

“Go to the front and don’t look back,” says Escalante to the jockey. “I need to take care of the other one, Miguel will put you up.”

CUT TO:

Gus chews the corner of his program as Rosie approaches. 

“I’ll buy you a hot dog if you’re hungry,” says Escalante.

“Hah, I don’t think I could eat anything right now,” says Gus as Escalante turns to Rosie.

“Let him have the lead, he’s going to go anyway,” says Escalante, indicating Gettin’ Up Morning. He gives Rosie a leg up and walks alongside.

“Let Crispino soften him up on the front end.  Then you take it away at the half-mile.”

CUT TO:

“No surprises here, jock,” says the Old Man. “Go to the front and maintain your position.”

“Wish we had a better post,” says Jenkins, his brow furrowed with concern. “I’ll have to rush him a bit.”

CUT TO:

Goose watches the digital display as the mutuel clerk feeds his last ticket into the machine.

“Holy Crap!” he says when the total appears.

“I don’t have this kind of money,” says the clerk,

“Have to get you a check.”

“No checks, Tommy. Cash on the barrelhead, American money. I’ll wait,” says Goose.

CUT TO:

“AWAY they go,” drones the announcer’s voice as the field breaks from the gate.

Jenkins guns Gettin’ Up Morning to the front, gets hung five wide into the first turn chasing Mon Gateau while Rosie hugs the rail with Pint of Plain.

“Perfect,” says Escalante to Jo, as he takes her hand. “We can go to the winner’s circle now. It’s over.”

CUT TO:

Bernstein’s on his feet, urging the chestnut colt as he begins his move.

“Come on, big boy,” he whispers to the television set. “One time for daddy.”

CUT TO:

Gettin’ Up Morning begins to shorten stride as he reaches the eighth pole, tiring from his mile-long duel with Mon Gateau.

Rosie chirps to Pint of Plain, still under a hand ride as he makes his move.

“It’s Pint of Plain, giving Rosie Shanahan a stakes double,” barks the announcer as the chestnut draws clear at the wire.

CUT TO:

“Made us the rabbit,” says Marcus. 

“Lucky to be third with those,” grumbles Jerry, “the two best horses on the grounds.”

“Twenty thousand for third,” whispers Lonnie to Renzo.

“Would you gentlemen be open to an offer on that gelding?” says the Irish bloodstock agent, appearing in the aisle next to the box.

“Say two hundred thousand? I’d like to try him at Cheltenham over the jumps.”

“That gross or net?” says Marcus.

CUT TO:

“My fault,” says the Old Man, “the blinkers made him too sharp.”

“Sorry,” replies Jenkins. “Arnold Schwarzenegger couldn’t have held him today.”

“Yep,” says Smith. “He was on that other horse like a hobo on a ham sandwich.”

CUT TO:

Gus puts the trophy on Brent’s desk.  They’re on speaker phone with Bernstein.

“He’ll win the Breeder’s Cup Turf, gramps, congratulations,” says Brent, “and we broke last year’s number for attendance and betting handle.”

“I’ll bring home the trophy,” says Gus, laughing. “But I might need help carrying it, solid sterling silver weighs a ton.”

CUT TO:

Lonnie does the math in his head.

“Two hundred, divided by four, plus twenty from the race,” he says. “We’re even with Monte and each have forty grand left over.”

“Not exactly,” says Renzo. “There’s the twenty thousand I pledged to the Institute for Insightfulness. And the check I wrote them.”

“A value play if I ever heard one,” says Marcus.

CUT TO:

As Rathburn approaches, the bald-headed man Rosie’s speaking with shakes her hand and makes a hasty exit.

“What were you talking to Curly about?” he asks.

“He told me to give him a call if I ever decide to go to New York. He’d like to represent me,” she replies as Rathburn blanches.

“New York?” he chokes.

“Gotta go,” says Rosie. “Interviews.”

FADE OUT:

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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