A friend and I had the only live ticket in the last race of a $20,000-something Pick Six pool. We kept this opportunity to ourselves, as jinxed people were all about.Our horse had the best of everything, save for one element. It had the best speed figure, best trainer, most money won, best bloodline, best jockey, least taped. It lacked only gate expertise. The horse didn't just break poorly. Sometimes it didn't seem to break at all. Oftentimes this horse stepped softly from the gate, as though testing the water temperature of a bubble bath. There's no such thing as gate breeding. But there is gate hate. And this horse was like that. The gate crew at a small track didn't help. You know the way major track gate crews wear stylish windbreakers and lock hands and firmly but gently push a horse's rump into the starting spot? At this place, it was as though gate work was a person's third job of the day, little experience required. They stopped just short of banging garbage can lids together to move a horse forward. It was like our horse thought upon entering his gate spot: Finally, a little peace and quiet. Now I can catch a few winks.
Our horse appeared genuinely afraid of the starting gate on this, only his hundredth time in it.
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