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... the race is not to the swift, ... but time and chance happeneth to them all.


I'm a Stranger Here Myself

Hardcover

By Ogden Nash

More on the infamous horseracing carve-out partly responsible for Antigua's bad beat in an otherwise successful challenge to the U.S. remote gambling ban.

O, racing is a ruinous sport,
The race track is an ill resort,
My waxing poverty I owe to it,
I often wonder why I go to it;
I hate the horses I have bet on,
I hate the horses my heart is set on;
Some are outsiders, some are sure things,
But if mine own, are ever poor things.
I hate the hunches, I hate the dope,
I hate the fear, I hate the hope,
I hate the blinkers, I hate the wrappers,
I hate the trainers and handicappers,
I hate the dust, I hate the mud,
I hate the pulsation of sporting blood,
I hate the jumps, I hate the flat,
And the red-hot tips from the stable cat,
The silly saddles, the foolish stirrups,
And the hang-arounders' cheerful chirrups,
The inhuman machines and human bookies,
And the plungers with faces like man-eating cookies,
The rattle and drum of the pounding hoof,
The triumphant shout that rocks the roof.
I hate my horse to be out in front
Lest he should wilt beneath the brunt;
I hate to see my horse behind,
Let he be trapped in a pocket blind,
And when my horse is in the center,
The hooks I hang upon are tenter,
And oh, the microphones that retch
And tell you who's leading in the stretch!
Into your helpless ear they quack
Who's moving up, who's falling back,
Your fingers would find their gullets, if
From tearing up tickets they eren't so stiff.
I mean it when I feelingly state
That racing is my bitterest hate.
But of all emotions within the breast,
Hate is by far the ugliest.
To ugly hate I will not yield,
But bet five dollars on the field.

(From stanza II of Hark! Hark! The Pari-Mutuels Bark!, pgs. 240)-241

Aunts Aren't Gentlemen

Paperback

By P.G. Wodehouse

I went on being appalled. Her scheme of engaging the services of a hired bravo who would probably blackmail her for the rest of her life shook me to the core. As for Angelica Briscoe, one asked onself what clergymen's daughters were coming to.

I tried to reason with her.

"You can't do this, old blood relation. It's as bad as nobbling a horse.'

If you think that caused the blush of shame to mantle her cheek, you don't know much about aunts.

'Well, isn't nobbling a horse an ordinary business precaution everyone would take if only they could manage it?' she riposted.

The Woosters never give up. I tried again.

'How about the purity of the turf?'

'No good to me. I like my turf impure. More genuine excitement.'

'What would the Quorn say of this? Or, for the matter of that, the Pytchley?'

'They would send me a telegram wishing me luck. You don't understand these small country meetings. It's not like Epsom or Ascot. A little finesse from time to time is taken for granted. It's expected of you. A couple of years ago Jimmny had a horse called Poonah running at Bridmouth, and a minion of Cook's got hold of the jockey on the eve of the race, lured him into the Goose and Grasshopper and tilled him up with strong drink, sending him to the starting post next day with such a hangover that all he wanted to do was sit down and cry. He came in fifth, sobbing bitterly, and went to sleep before he was out of the saddle. Of course Jimmy guessed what had happened, but nothing was ever said about it. No hard feelings on either side. It wasn't till Jimmy fined Cook for moving pigs without a permit that relations became strained.' (-- pgs. 86-87)

Ring for Jeeves

Paperback

By P.G. Wodehouse

The waiter, who had slipped out to make a quick telephone call, came back into the coffee room of the Goose and Gherkin wearing the starry-eyed look of a man who has just learned that he has backed a long-priced winner. He yearned to share his happiness with someone, and the only possible confidant was the woman at the table near the door, who was having a small gin and tonic and whiling away the time by reading a book of spiritualistic interest. He decided to tell her the good news.

"I don't know if you would care to know, madam," he said, in a voice that throbbed with emotion, "but Whistler's Mother won the Oaks."

The woman looked up, regarding him with large, dark, soulful eyes as if he had been something recently assembled from ectoplasm.

"The what?"

"The Oaks, madam."

"And what are the Oaks?"

It seemed incredible to the waiter that there should be anyone in England who could ask such a question, but he had already gathered that the lady was an American lady, and American ladies, he knew, are often ignorant of the fundamental facts of life. He had once met one who had wanted to know what a football pool was.

"It's an annual horse race, madam, reserved for fillies. By which I mean that it comes off once a year and the male sex isn't allowed to compete. It's run at Epsom Downs the day before the Derby, of which you have no doubt heard."

"Yes, I have heard of the Derby. It is your big race over here, is it not?"

"Yes, madam. What is sometimes termed a classic. The Oaks is run the day before it, though in previous years the day after. By which I mean," said the waiter, hoping he was not being too abstruse, "it used to be run the day following the Derby, but now they've changed it."

"And Whistler's Mother won this race you call the Oaks?"

"Yes, madam. By a couple of lengths. I was on five bob."
"I see. Well, that's fine, isn't it? Will you bring me another gin and tonic?" (-- p. 1)

A Few Quick Ones

Paperback

By P.G. Wodehouse

Now, though at the moment when he made this fine gesture Bingo actually had ten quid in his possession, having touched Purkiss for an advance on his salary, one would have expected him, thinking things over in the cold grey light of the morning after, to kick himself soundly for having been such an ass as to utter those unguarded words, committing him as they did to a course of conduct which would strip him of his last bean. But such was not the case. Still mellowed by a father's love, all he thought next day was that as a gift to a superchild like Algernon Aubrey a tenner was a bit on the cheeseparing side. Surely twenty would be far more suitable. And he could pick that up by slapping his ten on Potato in the two-thirty at Haydock Park. At dinner on the previous night he had burned his mouth by placing in it a fried spud about ninety degrees Fahrenheit warmer than he had supposed it to be, and he is always far too inclined to accept omens like this as stable information. He made the investment, accordingly, and at two-forty-five was informed by the club tape that he was now penniless. (From The Word in Season, pgs. 92-93)

A Year at the Races

Reflections on Horses, Humans, Love, Money and Luck

Hardcover

By Jane Smiley

I decided right then that the whole history of racing must mean something, and the whole history of racing had been, not about fabulous races and great equine personalities, but about two simpler things - who won and who backed the winner.
When, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, English landowners and horse breeders came to realize that they couldn't afford their sport if they were to just pass around a few plates as trophies, they understood that what they really needed, like all capitalists, was an infusion of funds from outside, and so racing, bookmaking, and crowds of working-class men converged to become the sport as we know it.

(From Chapter Seven, Betting Interest, p. 116)


The Big Sleep

DVD


Mrs. Rutledge: Tell me, what do you usually do when you're not working?
Private dective Philip Marlowe: Mmm, play the horses, fool around...
Mrs. R: No women?
Marlowe: Well, I'm generally working on something most of the time.
Mrs. R.: Could that be stretched to include me?
Marlowe: Oh, I like you. I've told you that before.
Mrs. R.: I like hearing you say it. But you didn't do much about it.
Marlowe: Welllll, neither did you.
Mrs. R.: Well ... Speaking of horses, I like to play them myself ... but I like to see them work out a little first, see if they're front runners or come from behind. Find out what their hole card is, what makes them run.
Marlowe: Find out mine?
Mrs. R.: I think so.

The Belles of St. Trinian's

DVD

Arabella Fritton: Hullo Pop.
Clarence Fritton (the bookmaker): Hello, kid. How are you getting on with the little princess (the Shiek's daughter)?
Arabella: OK, why?
Clarence: Just that, well, it looks as if we'll need the little lady sooner than expected. You know the horse, Blue Prince, that Benny and I have entered for the Gold Cup? Well, we've backed it to win the fortune.
Arabella: Well, now ... let me tell you. The $1,000-horse he (the Sheik) bought from Florence called Errand Boy is entered in the same race and you want the princess to take me over to the stables to find out the form. Is that it?
Clarence: Yes, yes, that's it, but not so loud, Bella.

Elvis Murphy's Green Suede Shoes

Audio CD, featuring Black 47's GGs classic, My Uncle Jim, an Irish priest who loved to drink and bet the horses.

Download the Biblitz Celtic Crush Workout Playlists I and II based on the Sirius/XM radio show with host Larry Kirwan heard twice weekly on Spectrum 18.

My Uncle Jim

My Uncle Jim was a hell of a man
He lived in the Philippine Islands
Came back home in '67
To convert us local savages

He was very popular in Wexford town
Though not with the priests or the clergy
For he could say the mass in ten minutes flat
We called him Father Speedy Gonzalez. ...

A terrible man for drinkin' shorts
He loved to bet on the horses
I can still see him there with the fag in his mouth
Studyin' form at the races

Hey Uncle Jim I miss you still
Though we fought like divils sometimes
About sex and guns and rock and roll
And all the bad things on me mind ...

Play the Piano Drunk like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit

Paperback

By Charles Bukowski

horse and fist

boxing matches and the racetracks
are where the guts are extracted and
rubbed into the cement
into the substance and stink of
being...

no rules
but a hint:

watch for the lead right
and the last flash of the
tote.

(-- pgs. 108-109)

Charles Bukowski

Twayne's United Authors Series

By Gay Brewer

The racetrack offers enough dislocation and randomness that Bukowski can be constantly working as he surrenders to external and internal stimuli. The author's predilection for writing in front of windows or in busy environments reveals a similar process. "I like interruptions, as long as they're natural and aren't total and continuous" (Wennersten, 51).



As "Horsemeat" powerfully demonstrates, the track is a location that simultaneously allows Bukowski to escape and to practice his craft, to gather material, to comment implicitly as social critic, to define and refine his relationship with society, and, nine times each day, to test his aesthetic of luck, gamble, grace and style against long odds. Winning is most worthwhile when you beat the favorite.

and when your figures
select only one horse,
it is a very curious and
magic feeling, of course,
and you learn to apply
the same simplicity to other areas of existence

(War, 62) (From Later Poems, pgs. 133-134)