The Divine Wager

Dante at Gulfstream

The race ended with Bailey, like his career, losing steam in the stretch. Silver Tree sputtered across the finish line in second. And who should come rocketing along the rail in the lead? This lucky auto part's pick, Miesque's Approval, with the youthful, up-and-coming Eddie Castro aboard.

As the Gulfstream machines were tallying the results on the ninth race, the 'Pipe floated euphorically up the stairs to 10 Palms, where the mood was, of course, melancholic. Bad show, old boy. Bailey was just a woooonderful representative of horseracing, and what a shame it couldn't have ended better.

This battered cylinder, who not only had bet Miesque's Approval across the board but also paired with Silver Tree in the exacta, had a fleeting moment of panic. Would the authorities allow the results to stand? At the last minute, they might declare Bailey's horse the winner by acclamation.

So long, suckers!
So long, suckers!

But, no, the results were in. Tailpipe's horse paid $99.60 on a $2 bet. Down near the Winner's Circle — but not in it — Bailey was sheepishly discussing his last race with reporters. "I hope all my friends bet me to place, not to win," he said with a self-deprecating smile. The bettors clustered nearby weren't laughing.

The 'Pipe locked eyes with one of the restaurant patrons, an attractive woman in a tight black dress with a diamond pin. She smiled.

"Sad, no?" she said. "I would have loved to see him go out with a win. Sad, sad, sad."

"Yes, sad," said the 'Pipe, his laugh veering dangerously toward the maniacal.

— As told to Edmund Newton

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