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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.

We hope you will enjoy this as an interactive experience and welcome your comments, questions and suggestions on for a live chat on Twitter - using the hashtag #OOL - with @ABRLive and @j_perrotta every Monday from 9-10 p.m. ET.

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.

FADE IN:

Bernstein and the track president are having lunch in the Turf Club overlooking the track.

“There’s going to be an attempt to deflate our stock by a person who’s been a stone in my shoe for a long time,” says Ace.

“This type of business is extremely distasteful to me,” replies the president.

“It’ll be over soon,” says Bernstein, looking at the fans on the apron below.

“And we’re going to fill this place with people, you and me, just watch.” 

CUT TO: 

The horses for the feature race make their way from the tunnel onto the track as the ponies wait to accompany them to the starting gate. Rosie’s on the six horse. She’s pulled out the rubber bands and runs her fingers through the filly’s unbraided mane, glances to her left to catch Ramirez on the four horse, glaring at her.

 CUT TO:

Jo parks her truck at Escalante’s barn and he pauses before getting out. The horses are all put away and the shedrow’s neatly raked as a foreman prepares the afternoon feed.

“Thanks,” he says.

“No problem,” she replies.

He steps out of the truck, keeping his door open.

“Maybe you don’t have anything to eat, we can have dinner later.”

“Maybe,” she says.

CUT TO: 

“Five minutes to post,” drones the announcer’s voice over the public address system.  Marcus studies his program as he hands a fold of cash to Renzo.

“Try not to screw this up,” he says, looking daggers at Lonnie and Goose.

“Cold trifecta play, the six on top with four, eight over all for 20 bucks.  And supers with all, all for a deuce. There’s nineteen-forty there.”

The three shuffle off to the betting window.

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

Bernstein’s on the escalator heading down to his office as his cell phone rings, the caller ID showing “Claire.”

“Hello there,” he says. “I thought you got lost on the way back.”

“I had another family emergency; I’m in Chicago,” she says.  “I’ll be here for a few more days.”

“You have family in Chicago, too?” replies Ace, as he’s seemingly sensing that something’s not quite kosher.

A few beats of silence, then …

“Miss you,” says Claire.

“Okay,” he says. “Guess I’ll see you when you get back.” 

CUT TO:

Two horses begin to edge away from the pack as the field turns for home.  Rosie’s lapped on the outside of Ramirez as he begins to float her wide. As they hit the apex of the turn, Ramirez hauls off and slashes Rosie on the thigh several times with his whip.

“Jaysus!” she cries, flinching out of rhythm with her mount for a beat.

CUT TO:

“Holy crap!” exclaims Goose, focused on the small television in the Degenerate’s box. 

“Did he bump her?” says Marcus, as the two horses go under the wire too close to tell who won. 

“He beat her a head, she’s got to claim foul,” says Goose, as Lonnie nods knowingly.    Marcus rolls his eyes when Lonnie states:

“It’s a cinch to come down.”

CUT TO:

Rosie’s fuming, on the phone to the stewards as the results flash on the tote board.  She glances at Ramirez on his horse in the winner’s circle and as he blows her a kiss. She gives him a rude gesture in return.

“Wasn’t his horse he was hitting, judge, it was me. Wailing on me, he was.”

But as the replay runs from several angles on the big screen in the infield, it’s impossible to tell exactly where Ramirez’ blows are landing.

 

CUT TO:

The chief steward looks to the other two and shrugs his shoulders. 

“Right in the blind spot, like he knows we can’t tell for sure.”

“Make it official?” asks one of the others.

CUT TO:

The Degenerates all react with a moan to the “OFFICIAL” sign posted on the tote board. Marcus smacks Renzo with his program while Goose and Lonnie begin tearing up the tickets.

“We got robbed by the biggest thief in town,” moans Goose.

CUT TO:

Several reporters are finishing their day work, sending online stories to their papers as the Flack stashes his laptop and prepares to exit for the day.

“What happened to your big horse this morning, Don?” asks one of the hacks. “Heard he dumped the rider and ran off. Didn’t get hurt, did he?”

“Who said he got hurt?” snaps the Flack. “Who?”

“Don’t get so jumpy, man,” says the reporter.

As the Flack makes his hasty exit, the reporter looks to his pals.

“Something he doesn’t want us to know?”

CUT TO: 

Renzo, Lonnie and Goose follow Marcus through the paddock gardens toward the track exit, their heads down and shoulders slumped like schoolboys beaten badly in a soccer match.

As they pass through the gates and reach the spot where Goose customarily parks his bike, all that’s left is a severed chain, dangling from the fence.

“Is this ‘insult to injury or injury to insult?’ ” says Goose.

As the other three head for their car, Goose looks toward the bus stop.

“I’ll be over for the checks later,” he shouts.

CUT TO:

Chaz is alone in the room he’s now sharing with his brother, Renzo. The shades are drawn and he’s carefully poking through the drawers of a large bureau when he finds a manila envelope wrapped with rubber bands.

He opens the envelope and removes a wad of hundred-dollar bills, quickly shoving them in his pocket before re-banding it. 

CUT TO:

Exiting an elevator, Jerry and another card player commiserate shoulder to shoulder as they follow a black-suited casino security guard down the luxuriously appointed hallway, when the guard makes an abrupt left into a vending machine area.

“What’re we doing, getting a soda?” asks Jerry.

As the guard swipes a key card and holds open an unmarked door next to the ice machine for them to enter,  Jerry finds himself face to face with Johnny Chan.

“No-No says you a big horse guy, Jerry. Maybe we play that for you?” says Chan.

“No-No? Who’s No-No?” answers Jerry.

“Nomie – Naomi – we call her ‘No-No.’ ”

Jerry seems slightly stunned as he wonders how much else Naomi has told her friends about him. 

CUT TO:

Ace and Gus admire the well-lit L.A. skyline as they have a nightcap. Bernstein’s lost in thought for a few moments, then …

“I’m feeling like it’s time the snowball comes rolling down the mountain,” he says.

“That’s okay, right? Long as you’re pushing it, not standing in its path?” replies the Greek. 

FADE OUT: 

Copyright 2013   J.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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