(So, I wrote this absolutely ages ago, around the time that I first joined FF. I never really thought about posting it, but I kind of want to write more, so I thought I might as well kick it off!)
The early morning sun was beginning to rise over the Kentucky bluegrass fields as a sporty black car slowly pulled up the drive of Raceaway Stables. The young woman driving it was slowly taking in the miles of white fence, the rows of barns, and the vast training track that seemed to stretch to the horizon. When she finally stopped the car, she stepped out and simply stood still, her head swimming with the events of the past few days.
“Taylon Hall?” A clean-shaven man about her age stepped out from the stable directly to her right and extended his hand, “I’m Aiden O’Connor, you’re late great-uncle’s trainer. Welcome to Raceaway Stables.”
Taylon smiled weakly, “Thank you, Aiden. It’s so nice to finally meet you in person.”
“Would you like a tour of your new home?” Aiden seemed to sense her eagerness to become familiar with the Thoroughbred racing stable that had so recently and unexpectedly become hers.
“I would like that very much,” she replied, and followed him into the stables.
“This is the main racing barn,” Aiden informed her as they passed empty stall after empty stall, “When Raceaway was a fully operating stable, this barn was full. But as your uncle’s health declined, he began scaling back. About 10 years ago was the last time this stable was filled to capacity. He kept buying a few prospects a year, but was selling more than he bought. These two were his favorite, and they are the last race horses he had.”
Aiden opened a stall door, and stepped back so Taylon could see into the stall.
“What a beautiful filly,” Taylon admired the horse, and stepped into the stall, holding out her palm for the filly to sniff. The big chestnut stood around 17.0 hands, with a white blaze running down her face. She delicately huffed into Taylon’s hand, and then began to rub her big head on her arm. Taylon smiled and rubbed her nose. “What’s her name?”
“This is Pointed Remark,” Aiden told her, leaning on the stall door, “she’s by Point Given out of a Brazen Remark mare. She’s as consistent as they come. Last year she ran just twice, on the turf, and was third both times out. Then she lept out of her paddock a few times, and we got this harebrained idea to try her over the jumps. She’s won twice this year, and she’s never been out of the money, mostly running in allowances.”
Taylon’s head whipped around as a sharp CRACK echoed through the stable.
Aiden’s eyes rolled, “That’s Mistico Cigano, the resident trouble maker. I suppose we should pay him some attention before he rips his stall apart.”
Taylon closed the stall door and followed Aiden down the aisle. A few stalls down, a compact black horse was hanging his head over the stall door, pawing at the wood shavings on the floor of his stall.
“Taylon Hall, meet Mistico Cigano. He’s a two year old by Secret of Love out of Spectacular Star. He’s feisty, but when he puts his mind to it, he can run like the wind.”
Mistico Cigano regarded her intently for a moment, first sniffing the pockets of her jeans, then nosing up her arm before lipping a strand of her hair. “Hey!” Taylon pulled back, laughing.
“I think he likes you,” Aiden grinned.
Taylon smiled, “I like him, too.”
“I also keep some of the horses I’m training for my brother here, and their board goes to you every month. Now, if you want to come walk through the rest of the barns with me, we have just enough time to see them before heading up to the track to watch the morning works.”
Taylon followed Aiden out of the racing barn, and he showed her the broodmare barn, which stood empty for the time being, and the much smaller stallion barn, which also had no residents.
As they began to walk towards the track, Taylon found Aiden studying her. “So what is your next move, Taylon? Will you keep riding?”
Taylon mulled over his question for a moment. She had asked herself the same thing thousands of times over the past few weeks. Before the death of her great-uncle, she had been one of the top young jockeys on the east coast. One night, she had received a phone call from Aiden. Her great-uncle had died, and in his will, had left his stable to her. She had raced a few horses for the jolly old man, and though his health had been declining, no one had thought that he was very badly off.
"I don’t know right now, Aiden,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â� she finally replied, “I had a career, and I used to think I would just keep riding forever. But now,” she sighed, “I have home, horses, people that will depend on me.”
They stopped at the rail, and watched Pointed Remark move through the gap. The big filly moved off down the outer rail in a smooth ground-covering trot, her head down and her ears pricked forward. Taylon laughed, remembering the hunters she had ridden in her youth. “Well, she looks like she’d be an awesome pleasure horse. I can’t wait to see her run.”
Aiden smiled and nodded, “She’s an excellent mover. And you ought to see her form over the jumps. But today, we’re only galloping her for a mile, with a four furlong breeze to cap off the workout.”
Taylon nodded, and watched the filly intently as the exercise rider rose slightly in the stirrups and the filly moved off at a gallop. Her strides were even and controlled, the filly had a simple, elegant way about her that made a beautiful picture for the observer.
A few minutes later, the rider crouched low over Pointed Remarks neck, giving the filly permission to stretch out into a fast breeze. They flew the track at a fast clip, moving around the turn and down the stretch in a fluid motion.
“A good time,” Aiden commented as the rider slowed the filly and brought her toward where they stood at the rail.
A girl with pixie like green eyes and fire-red hair beamed down at Aiden as she brought the filly to a stop and jumped off. “She was perfect today,” the girl’s voice had an Irish lit. She jumped off Pointed Remark and loosened the girth, then handed her off to a waiting groom.
“Taylon, meet my cousin, Brenna O’Connor,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â� Aiden said, putting an arm around the girl, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œShe’s from Ireland, but has come to America for college and I’ve been keeping her busy exercise riding.”
“Pleased to meet you,” Brenna extended a hand for Taylon to shake. Taylon guessed the younger woman was probably 19 or 20 years old.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œAnd IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢m please to meet you, Brenna,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â� Taylon smiled. She liked the girlÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s easy smile and kind way. She had also admired how easily the girl had handled the big mare.
They all turned as a muffled whinny sounded behind them on the path leading down to the oval. Mistico Cigano was dancing next to a groom who was doing his best to stay out of the range of the feisty coltÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s teeth. Aiden boosted Brenna up on the horse as soon as he reached the gap, and the pixie-like girl shoved her toes in the stirrups and quickly moved the horse out on to the track.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œYou canÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t spend much time dilly-dallying with that colt. HeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s too smart for it, and heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s got a nose for trouble. Best to be business-like with him, he doesnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t have time to come up with something to do.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â� Aiden commented as he watched the colt move around the track at a working trot.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œHe really is beautiful,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â� Taylon watched the coltÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s shoulders ripple with muscle, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWhat is his race record?ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â�
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œHis last two races have been less than desirable, he finished 5th in the Kindergarten Stakes, and 8th in an allowance. He did win a 5 and a half furlong maiden a while back. I really think he has the stuff to make it big, but he just needs to find his niche. I think he will take to longer distances well, but there arenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t that many opportunities to try two year olds at them, and I donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t want to push him to hard.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â�
Taylon nodded. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWhat about the Pilgrim Stakes? ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s ungraded, 7 furlongs on the turf. Might be just what he needs to mix things up a little.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â�
Aiden watched the colt move around the track, and nodded in agreement, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI wonÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t say it hadnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t crossed my mind, but I didnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t know if you would want to be putting him in a stakes race so soon. But if you want to take the chance, I think heÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ll be game for it.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â�
Taylon smiled, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œSometimes you have to take a chance to come out ahead.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â� As she watched the colt move into a breeze, she knew she had made the right decision in putting her life as a jockey on hold and coming to Raceaway Stables.