walked out of the jockeys' room into the morning sunlight. Wearing light-blue,
tight-fitting slacks and a fresh T shirt, he looked more fragile than the
exercise boys and the other jockeys who lounged here and there among the groups
of horsemen. Baeza stopped beside his agent, Lenny Goodman, who was holding a
marked-up overnight entry sheet.
"You know this
one," Goodman said, pointing to the name of the horse Baeza would ride in
the first race that afternoon. Goodman had just come from the racing
secretary's office, where he had crossed out the names of the horses that had
been scratched. Baeza nodded impassively at each name.
"You know this
one," Goodman said, running down the list with the tip of his pencil.
"You know this one."
At one point Baeza
shook his head. "Maybe you know him," he said.
Goodman looked up
at him briefly, then went on. A couple of other jockeys had joined them.
"He talks pretty good now, huh?" a jockey said, grinning at Baeza.
talks fine," Goodman said, folding up the sheet and stuffing it into his
have heard what he called his horse after he pulled him up in the sixth race
yesterday," another jockey said. "Tell 'em, Braulio."
smiled. The other jockey said an indelicate phrase, and everybody laughed.
Jockeys, like sailors in foreign ports, find it comical to teach four-letter
words to those innocent of their meaning.
Baeza shook his
head and laughed with the others. "That is not my kind of word," he