Tough Act to Follow

Eckerly bet Tough Act to Follow to win in the sixth at Belmont and had just enough time to wheel the Quinella before the window closed. He’d put his kids through college with horses that ran in the stretch and would wait patiently for these come from behind kids, even if it took weeks. Saw this one at Monmouth in the middle of the summer; he'd been half paying attention to a garden variety fourteen thousand claiming race when this one horse placed out of the money but made up twenty lengths in the last quarter mile, and made it look like a frolic at the beach. Eckerly had driven down that day only to get out of the city for a few hours and had been eating a hot dog when he realized what was happening. In fumbling to lift his binoculars, he smeared mustard across the lens so he couldn’t be sure if the jockey had pulled up or not just before the wire. They shipped Tough Act up to New York for the fall season and that Thursday he’s moved up in class and there was Gino and Vladimir leaning on the paddock railing, eyes glued on Tommy O'Fannon, the horse’s trainer who’d been indicted more times than Eckerly had fingers.

Tough Act to Follow's morning line started him off at seventy to one until two minutes till post time when ten grand dropped. Eckerly's cigarette fell out of his hand as he stepped into line and placed another five thousand on Tough Act to win as well as doing his Quinella thing. The horse paid 62 dollars and Eckerly went to Peter Luger's that night, had their Porterhouse with creamed spinach and German potatoes. Then he took a cab into the city for a cannoli and coffee at Veneiros.