Finally Pride had enough of such nonsense and broke stride angrily, almost bouncing Dancer from his seat. Later Dancer said he wasn't afraid of the fall but of a hot-tempered Pride running free. But the colt's temper cooled, and he came back to win the second heat in a stakes-record-equaling 1:58[3/5].
"If you think that horse is looking to kill somebody after he wins," said the scarred Murphy, "you should see him after he loses. It was 20 minutes before I dared to take the bit out of his mouth."
If the pressures of a Hambletonian were getting to Dancer, he covered it well. He flew to Du Quoin early Thursday morning, and an hour later, whistling and singing, he took Pride on the first of three trips around the mile track. "Boy, has he got the other drivers psyched out," said a photographer as Dancer flew past, happily bellowing the words of an off-key Sweet Georgia Brown. Later, comfortably slouched in a blue-and-yellow camp chair in front of Pride's fan-cooled stall. Dancer wondered if anyone thought he should challenge Frank Sinatra to a singing duel.
"Hell, no," said a friend. "Nevele Pride sounds better when he snorts."
"Just for that," said Dancer, "you can walk all the way over to the grandstand and pull our post position. Number One would be nice."
A half hour later the friend returned, reluctantly, and said that if Pride was any farther away from the rail, he'd have to pay for a seat in the grandstand and would Stanley kindly loan him a knife so that he could slash his wrists.
"Number Nine!" said Dancer, hooting and slapping his thigh. "That may be the greatest thing that ever happened to us. And don't worry about it. You can't win any race by pulling pills out of a little bottle." Behind him, Nevele Pride whinnied.
Eddie Wheeler, who lost his ride in The Hambletonian when Kerry Pride injured a leg on Tuesday, came around the corner of the barn, pulled a chair into 85� shade and sat down.
"Hey, Eddie," said Dancer gleefully, "guess what—Pride got the rail."
Wheeler shook his head. "You are the luckiest...."