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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, beginning March 4.

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.

red white blue Bar

New characters in this episode

Moonbeam – Renzo’s waitress girlfriend from the diner.

Naomi – Jerry’s card-dealer girlfriend.

Episode 2, Part II

FADE IN:

Afternoon …

At Rod’s Diner, Renzo’s poking at the piece of blueberry pie in front of him. He’s smitten with the waitress Moonbeam, who’s going on and on about her New Age group.

“Yogi Dan says there’s going to be a harmonic convergence next month! Please say you’ll come!”

Renzo glances at the clock on the wall and realizes he’s late for the races.

“I gotta go. Marcus counts on me to put the bets in.”

CUT TO:

“The three looks like he has a good shot in the third,” says Lonnie.

Marcus’ gaze is swinging from side to side, on the lookout for Renzo.

“Oscar loves his filly in the fourth,” says Goose.

“I’m sitting between two of the biggest losers on the racetrack. When’s the last time one of you handed me money?” snaps Marcus.

Lonnie, somewhat miffed, heads for the concession stands.

“Who do you like, Marcus?” asks Goose.

“One’s the key — in the fifth. We’re singling him to finish the Pick 5 and to start the Pick 6,” says Marcus.

Goose nods in agreement, “What do you think of Lon’s pick, three in the third?”

“I don’t need him to handicap for me – he can’t even read a Racing Form,” says Marcus. “And where the hell is Renzo?”

CUT TO:

Out of Luck Blog Archive

Episode 1, Buy Low, Sell High

Episode 2, Part I, Say Hello to My Baby

Bernstein’s in the Executive Suite at the track when his cell phone rings. It’s Claire, calling from Arizona.

“How’d it go?” he asks.

“I think they’re going to let him out,” she says, “Finally. How’s things with you?”

“The Indians are acting like they want to renege. Other than that, just peachy,” Ace replies.

CUT TO:

Ronnie Jenkins is heading for the snack bar as his valet hands him a set of silks for the first race. Bayou Bobby, the Cajun short-order cook, wears a hair net and has the stub of an unlit cigar in the corner of his mouth. 

As Jenkins dons the silks and wraps a rubber band around each wrist, he takes a seat at the counter and Bayou puts a single cashew in front of him.

“Da way you like it, medium rare, my man.”

Ronnie smiles as he pops the nut in his mouth.

“Word gets out about this, that Bobby Flay better watch out,” quips the jock.

“What you tink that one in the fifth, Ronnie?” asks the cook.

CUT TO:

 “Here,” says Marcus, handing cash to Lonnie. He reads from his Racing Form as Lonnie writes in his program.

“Numb-nuts is late, and he knows he’s the designated bettor for gimmicks,” says Marcus. “One-two-five-six-eight with one-two-three with two-eight-nine-ten with all with one. For ten bucks is six thou’. Try not to screw it up.”

Lonnie and Goose head for the window as the announcer voice booms: “Five minutes to post. Get those Pick 5 bets in.”

CUT TO:

A uniformed cop stands next to Escalante as he punches Jo’s number in the desk phone. He’s steaming as his call goes unanswered.  

“She don’t answer; I got to call my lawyer then,” he says to the officer.

“Tell him I got arrested over dumping bacon and eggs on a redneck cowboy.”

CUT TO:

DiRossi’s atop the bluff in Santa Monica, looking out to sea as he answers his cell phone.

“Yeah, you out there?” pausing as he listens to the reply.

He punches in the auto-dial on a second phone and grimaces at the sound of an explosion on his phone.

CUT TO:

Renzo’s still getting the cold shoulder from Marcus as the horses for the fifth race are turning for home, when Marcus glances at the tickets and turns to Lonnie.

“What the hell is this? I told you to key the one horse in the fifth. These have the five!”

Lonnie blanches as Ronnie Jenkins hand rides the horse with the red saddlecloth, drawing clear at the finish line.

CUT TO:

The headlights flash on Ronnie Jenkins’ rental car as he presses the remote to unlock its doors. 

“Can a girl catch a ride, handsome?” asks Kitti.

He holds his hands up as if surrendering.

“I’m not armed,” he quips as she bats her eyes, coquettish.

“Sorry about the car.”

“Could you leave this one alone, I didn’t take the insurance,” he says. “Maybe just send me a nasty letter?”

She sidles close to him and puts an arm around his neck.

“Forgive me? I promise I’ll be good.”

CUT TO:

Jerry’s lying on the bed with a wet cloth over his eyes when there’s a knock on the door. It’s his girlfriend, Naomi, from L.A.

“Whoa, room service?” he asks.

“I got the weekend off, thought you might need a back rub,” she says as he pulls her into the room.

CUT TO:

Ace and Gus are relaxing in the living room with a nightcap.

“She says they’re likely to grant parole for her brother,” Ace says, as if there’s a question in his mind.

“I wonder what changed,” says Gus.

Ace walks to the picture window overlooking the night lights of the L.A. skyline.

Gus answers his cell phone. He holds his hand over the mouthpiece as he whispers to Ace:

“Cohen. Scared to death and wants to jump ship.”

Ace replies, “That’s what all the rats do when the ship is sinking. Tell him to meet us in the morning. And bring his partner.”

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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