ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: The Writer, His Wife, and their Afterlife
Book One, Part Two, Chapter 145: Breeders’ Cup Day
Today, the third of November, is Breeders’ Cup Day.
Last year the Breeders’ Cup races were at Churchill, and Ernie was alive. Last year he studied the racing form as best he could and sent his bets via Joshua. Last year, after each race, Joshua called him with the results.
Ernie’s Pick-Three lost by a nose.
“Damn!” he said, hitting the camelback he lay on with his fist. It was getting harder for him to move, even from bed to camelback. I sat perched on a footstool next to him. “It doesn’t matter,” I said. “It’s only a race.”
I think now Ernie wasn’t really angry about a horse race. He was angry about the big race he was losing, the race we weren’t talking about.
A few days ago, Joshua called me. “Why don’t you pick up a racing form? We’ll confer.”
“I thought about it, Joshua. I even read an article in American Turf Monthly on betting long shots in the Dirt Mile. But I’m already in the Land of Confusion. Why confuse myself even more?”
Joshua called again last night. “I’m looking at the Juvenile Sprint. The only horse who’s won at this distance at this track will be a long shot.”
I don’t say much. It’s his time and his energy and his money. In the end, it will be his decision, not mine.
This morning, while I’m in the kitchen drawing water for the teapot, he leaves me another message. “Last night I thought I’d go to the track, but now I’m leaning the other way. I’ll call you back in a bit.”
I call Joshua back. He’s not there. Is he on his way to Santa Anita?
He calls me back. “I drew out seven hundred dollars from the bank yesterday. I fully intended to play. Then I thought: It’s going to cost at least twenty-five dollars in gasoline to get there and twenty-five dollars to get in. That’s fifty bucks just to show up. Then, you know how Breeders’ Cup races go. I could easily blow my bankroll. It’s happened before. One year I lost fifteen hundred dollars. I felt miserable. I don’t want to go through that again.”
Joshua doesn’t want to feel miserable. This is growth. Hallelujah for him.