"Hey, Henry. Wanna know who was riding the horse she beat?"
A darkness came into his eyes as he looked down at his program.
"Of course," he spit. "Vasquez. The goddamn crook. Like I told you, you cannot bet the man...Who else. Vasquez! C'mon, you corrupt Jankee dog. Buy you a drink."
That should be the end of the story, but it's not. In her next start, Sunshine Mary managed to finish ahead of four horses. Then, on August 31, 1981, she tried again. After breaking dead last from the gate at Calder, the race summary says, she gained ground along the rail and was moving up smartly when she came to a section of fence that is removed in the mornings so that horses working out can leave the track and return to the barn. Seeing this, Mary suddenly turned left and tried to jump the fence.
She broke her neck and had to be destroyed. Even while her trainer wept, a pet-food company rejected Sunshine Mary's body. She was carted off to a dump.
For my own part, I never found the courage to call Henry Martinez about what had happened. And now, I don't play Vasquez if I can help it.
The bowl games get going in earnest next week, and there's probably no college football fan who won't savor that rematch between Florida and Florida State in the Sugar. It certainly looks like the main event of the postseason.
Here in Colorado, there's plenty to crow about, at least for now. It's pretty to think that those glorious upstarts from Colorado State, playing in their first Holiday Bowl, can upset Michigan, but it doesn't seem that way. Led by Ty Wheatley, the Wolverines are bigger, stronger and faster--and the heartbreak laid on them by a certain other Colorado team this season is bound to provide added motivation.
Rams coach Sonny Lubick will pull out the stops, but CSU is one eight-point dog that won't bite: Michigan 31, Rams 20, though I'd love to be wrong.
But none of that will keep the balanced, talented Buffs from thrashing the Domers: CU 41, Notre Dame 17.
The real blowout should be the Rose Bowl. Oregon had a nice little season for itself, but big, bad Penn State will whack 'em by 40. Meanwhile, the Senior Bowl, usually a redheaded cousin to the glamour matchups, has some cachet of its own this year: Three outstanding senior quarterbacks--Alcorn State's Steve McNair, Alabama's Jay Barker and Penn State's Kerry Collins--will all be on the field, complete with NFL coaching.
Think the pro scouts will have a look at that one?