Gallo’s recent success as a trainer provided an income that enabled him to stay at fine hotels and eat at the best restaurants. However, in the days before the Santa Anita Derby, he and Jimmy toughed it out at eighty-six bucks a night in a budget motel across the street from the track. This location allowed them to walk to work at the crack of dawn to prepare Tackle Tim Tom for the Santa Anita Derby.
As they ambled toward the stables on the morning of the race, Jimmy engaged in his daily habit of grousing about the need to work in Los Angeles. After five minutes of the groom’s monologue, Ritchie had had enough. “Jimmy, what are you bitching about? The weather here is perfect. Not too cold, not too hot, it’s perfect all the time, which makes planning our training routine pretty easy.”
“That’s what I’m saying, boss. It’s always the same! I like a little rain, a little snow, some falling leaves, and some Kentucky bluegrass. Something to challenge me every day when I get up.”
“Right, you don’t think our job is challenging enough as it is?”
“Hey, variety is the spice of life, which brings me to the food around here. If I eat any more tacos or burritos, I’m gonna start speaking Mexican.”
“Jimmy, Mexicans speak Spanish.”
“Whatever—there’s too many people, too many cars, and too many Mexican restaurants around here. I’m dying for some bourbon-basted barbecue ribs.”
Gallo just smiled and resigned himself to another few minutes of Jimmy’s complaints. Once they got to T-three, Jimmy would be all business, completing a highly orchestrated set of tasks prior to the race this afternoon.
“C’mon, Jimmy, let’s get our coffees over here at the break truck.”
“Are you buyin’?”
“Of course, I’m buying. Ever since CJ disappeared, I do all the buying.”
“Yeah, I miss that girl,” said Jimmy. “I miss getting free coffee and lunch every day. Sometimes when she was around after the races, I even got her to pay for dinner. I don’t miss her dumb questions or her annoying habit of getting in the way, but I sure miss the free food.”
Gallo smiled to himself. He knew Jimmy missed CJ just as much as he missed Hit the Bid.
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