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A DAY OF WINE AND ROSES
Dick Francis
May 07, 1973
The horses falling in a mad tangle in the Kentucky Derby brought it all crashing back: wasn't there a conversation about a fix at Churchill Downs—or was he just dreaming
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May 07, 1973

A Day Of Wine And Roses

The horses falling in a mad tangle in the Kentucky Derby brought it all crashing back: wasn't there a conversation about a fix at Churchill Downs—or was he just dreaming

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Piper Boles was waiting outside the stewards' room for a summons, but Marius Tollman used the highest-class messengers, and the package he entrusted was safely delivered. Piper Boles nodded, slipped it into his pocket and gave the stewards a performance worthy of Hollywood.

Fred Collyer put his head in his hands, trying to remember. A drink, he thought, might help. Diversion. Crinkle Cut. Amberezzio. He sat up sharply. Amberezzio. And what the hell did that mean? It has to be Amberezzio. "Clay," he said, leaning back over his chair, "do you know of a horse called Amberezzio?" Clay Petrovitch shook his bald head. "Never heard of it." Fred Collyer called to several others through the hubbub, "Know of a horse called Amberezzio?" And finally he got an answer. "Amberezzio isn't a horse, he's an apprentice." "It has to be Amberezzio. He's straight."

Fred Collyer knocked over his chair as he stood up. They had already called one minute to post time on the last race.

"Lend me 20 bucks," he said to Clay. Clay, knowing about the lost wallet, amiably agreed and slowly began to bring out his money. "Hurry," Fred Collyer said.

"O.K., O.K." Clay handed over the $20 and turned back to his own typewriter.

Fred Collyer grabbed his program and pushed through the post-Derby chatter to the pari-mutuel window farther along the press floor. He flipped the pages.... Tenth race, Homeward Bound, claiming race, eight runners.... His eye skimmed down the list and he found what he sought.

Philip Amberezzio, riding a horse Fred Collyer had never heard of.

"Twenty on No. 6," he said quickly, and received his ticket seconds before the window shut. Trembling slightly, he pushed back through the crowd and out onto the balcony. He was the only writer watching the race.

Those jocks did it beautifully, he thought in admiration. Artistic. You wouldn't have known if you hadn't suspected. They bunched him in and shepherded him along, and then, at the perfect moment, suddenly gave him a clear opening. Amberezzio won by half a length, with all the others waving their whips as if beating the last inch out of their mounts. Fred Collyer laughed. That poor little so-and-so probably thought he was a hell of a jockey, bringing home a complete outsider with all the big boys baying at his heels.

He went back inside the pressroom and found everyone's attention directed toward Harbourne Cressie, who had brought with him the owner and jockey of Pincer Movement. Fred Collyer dutifully took down enough quotes to cover the subject, but his mind was on the other story, the big one, the gift. It would need careful handling, he thought. It would need the very best he could do, as he would have to be careful not to make direct accusations while leaving it perfectly clear that an investigation was necessary. His old instincts reawoke. He was even excited. He would write his piece in the quiet privacy of his motel room. Couldn't do it here on the track, with every turf writer in the world looking over his shoulder.

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  ARTICLES GALLERIES COVERS
Fred Collyer 1 0 0
Marius Tollman 1 0 0
Blisters Schultz 1 0 0
Philip Amberezzio 1 0 0
Churchill Downs 116 0 1