"How'd he go
this morning?" a groom might ask her after she had galloped a horse.
she might say.
And sometimes she
and the groom would end up rolling in the dirt, trying to kill each other.
Well, that's how a girl had to be at a racetrack, wasn't it? "I didn't know
how to act," she says. "I didn't have anyone to copy. I thought if I
showed any feelings, they would be taken for weakness."
time I ever saw her," recalls Linda McBurney, "I was galloping a horse,
and I heard someone talking incessantly on the track, jabbering away in this
incredible high-pitched voice about how good she was. Instantly, I hated her. I
remember thinking, Don't be such a hotshot; shut up and do your job,
bitch." A year or two later, Linda and Julie were best friends.
She ran from one
identity to the other, from bitch to Bambi, waif to wiseass, from the cute
little squirt who didn't know which shoe went on which foot to the spitfire who
knew everything. She was a teenager on her own, starved for two things she
couldn't seem to find on one plate: love and four winners a day. When Chick
Lang, who became her agent, and Jean took her into their home, she scrawled
"I love you," a weather report and a smiling sun on a napkin for Jean
every morning before leaving the house at dawn to go to the stables. She made
people love her, she made people hate her, she made people do both at the same
Nothing in life
happened fast enough for her. She seized the back of Snellings's wheelchair one
day at Timonium racetrack, in Maryland, and started racing her down the
shedrow, faster and faster and faster.
Julie," Snellings pleaded.