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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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Down in the jockeys' room Piper Boles quietly distributed the pari-mutuel tickets that Marius Tollman had delivered: $500 worth to each of the seven unsuccessful riders in the 10th race and he kept $1,000 worth for himself. Each jockey would ask a wife or friend to collect the winnings. Several of these would have been easy prey for Blisters Schultz had he not already started home.

Marius Tollman's money had shortened the odds on Amberezzio, but he still returned 12 to 1. Marius Tollman wheezed and puffed from cashier to cashier, collecting his winnings. He hadn't room for all the cash in the underarm pockets and finally stowed some casually in more accessible spots. Too bad about Blisters Schultz.

Fred Collyer collected a fistful of winnings and repaid the $20 to Clay Petrovitch. "If you had a hot tip, you might have passed it on," grumbled Petrovitch, thinking of all the expenses Fred undoubtedly would claim for his free rides to the track.

"It wasn't a tip, just a hunch," Fred said. "I'll buy you a drink on the way home."

"I should damn well think so."

Fred Collyer immediately regretted his offer, which had been instinctive. He remembered that he had not intended to drink until after he had written. Still, perhaps one.... And he did need a drink very badly. It seemed a century since his last, on Wednesday night.

They left together, walking out with the remains of the crowd. The track looked battered and bedraggled at the end of the day: the scarlet petals of the tulips lay on the ground, leaving rows of naked pistils sticking up forlornly, and the bright rugs of grass were dusty gray and covered with litter. Fred Collyer thought only of the dough in his pocket and the story in his head, and both of them gave him a warm glow.

A drink to celebrate, he thought. Buy Clay a thank-you drink, and maybe one more to celebrate. It wasn't often, after all, that things fell his way so miraculously.

They stopped for the drink. The first double swept through Fred Collyer's veins like fire through a parched forest. The second made him feel great. "Time to go," he said to Clay. "I've got my piece to write."

"Just one more," Clay said. "This one's on me."

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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