|Publisher:||Random House Children's Books|
|Series:||Walter Farley's Black Stallion Series , #10|
|Product dimensions:||5.25(w) x 7.63(h) x 0.53(d)|
|Lexile:||780L (what's this?)|
|Age Range:||8 - 12 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Alec Ramsay was on the train that had left New York City's Pennsylvania Station at 7:05 p.m. and would arrive at Roosevelt Raceway, Westbury, Long Island, by eight o'clock. This would be a half-hour before the first race of the evening, giving him time to locate Bonfire, the second son of the Black Stallion.
He wondered about this three-year-old colt, whom he had never seen. Had the Black stamped Bonfire as his own in body, head and temperament? Or had that small, quiet harness-racing mare been the more dominant in marking her son? Soon he'd know, and he looked forward eagerly to meeting Bonfire and watching him race beneath the lights in a sport Alec had known previously only at county and state fairs.
He turned away from the window, where the suburban apartment buildings were giving way to more and more areas of spacious green. He was thankful he wore only a light sport shirt, for the July day had been extremely hot and the coming night promised little relief.
The car was crowded, with every seat taken and men standing in the aisles. The stranger sitting beside him was absorbed in reading a long typewritten statement, but suddenly he looked up, caught Alec's eyes, and said, "Sometimes I think a trainer does a better job of training the owner than he does the horse."
Alec glanced at the paper, this time noting the letterhead which read, "fred ringo's stable." Quietly he said, "That all depends on the trainer and the owner."
"Take this item," the stranger went on. "Leg lotion, two dollars and fifty cents. My wife claims my colt uses more lotion than she does. And I can't even tell her what it's for."
Alec smiled. "Leg lotion is a mild liniment they put on a horse's legs before doing him up," he said.
The man looked at Alec. "You mean you know something about horses?"
"Then maybe you can explain a few of these other items I'm paying for. My wife says it's time I found out. But it's hard to pin Freddy Ringo down, especially on race night. What's this foot grease?" He grinned. "Make him go faster?"
"Not directly," Alec answered. "Although anything you do to keep a horse's feet in good condition is bound to help his speed. Foot grease is put on hoofs to keep them soft and to prevent cracks."
"How about this clay for packing feet?" the man asked, turning to his statement again.
"Pounding a hard racetrack day after day often results in a horse's feet becoming hot and wet. The clay is used overnight to help draw out the heat."
"You seem to know more than just a little about this game," the man said. "Do you own a harness racer too?"
The man put out his right hand. "My name is Dick Frecon," he said. "I own the three-year-old colt Lively Man. Guess you've seen him out here."
Alec shook the man's hand. "No, I haven't been here before. My name is Ramsay . . . Alec Ramsay."
Frecon's heavy eyebrows bunched quickly. "What did you say your name was?" he asked. His gaze had left Alec's face, wandering to the boy's large hands, then to the broad shoulders.
"Ramsay," Alec repeated.
Frecon was studying his face. "Not the jockey," he said. "Not the one who was up on the Black and Satan . . . and last year, Black Minx. Not that Alec Ramsay."
"They're our horses," Alec admitted.
"Well, what do you know!" Frecon said incredulously. "For years I've been following you and never getting closer than the nearest grandstand." He folded his statement and put it away. "And now that I've switched sports I find myself sitting next to you, even asking if you know horses!" Patting his pocket, he said, "Sorry about all those questions."
"You needn't be," Alec said. "If anyone has a horse in training he should know what he's paying for."
"That's what my wife says." For a moment they rode in silence, then Frecon said, "Do you mind my asking what you're doing out here?"
"There's a colt I want to see," Alec said. "He's going in the second race."
"Why, that's my colt's race too!" Frecon said, sitting up straighter in his seat. "What do you have in it?"
"I don't have anything in it," Alec said, smiling. "But the colt's name is Bonfire. He's sired by the Black."
"Oh, sure, I should have thought of that since the boys were talking about him last week. Seems he was a whirlwind last year at two, but he hasn't done much this season. He's owned by a Jimmy Creech of Coronet, Pennsylvania."
"That's right," Alec said. "Mr. Creech is an old friend of my partner, Henry Dailey. That's how his harness mare happened to be bred to the Black."
"I'd sure like to meet Henry Dailey," Frecon said, "and the Black and Satan."
"Then why don't you come up to the farm sometime? We're only a two-hour ride from New York."
"I sure will. I'd love to, if you're sure it's all right."
"Of course it's all right," Alec said.
The train was slowing, coming into the station at Westbury.
"I can't wish this Bonfire much luck tonight," Frecon said, "not with my colt in the same race. Who's driving him anyway? One of the big trainers?"
"No, he's being trained and driven by a young fellow named Tom Messenger. I don't know anything about him except that he comes from Coronet and is a friend of Mr. Creech, who's sick at home and can't be here."
"Then you know this Jimmy Creech?"
"No, I don't know him, either." Alec smiled. "I don't know anyone," he added, ". . . not even Bonfire. I'm just looking forward to meeting them."
"Well," Frecon said, standing up as the train stopped, "I can't say I mind hearing about this Tom Messenger driving Bonfire. I wouldn't like to see a son of the Black in the hands of any of the top men out here. Not with my colt in the same race and with hay at seventy dollars a ton!"
Later Alec moved with the crowd streaming through the main entrance gate of Roosevelt Raceway. It was not yet dark but the track lights were already on. Dance music came over the public-address system.