Skip to main content
Original Issue


A racetrack begins to stir before dawn. For a few hours, a singular group of men goes about specialized asks. Even the stable pets seem a breed apart from the ordinary. Here is the way it was at Belmont one morning this season

"Come on, baby. Come on, little fat girl."

"Come on, sweetie. Come here before I slap you down."

"Come on, Mind your manners, young lady. Don't get smart. Put that foot down before I get mad and knock the ears off you."

"Come on. Stop being a donkey. Get over. Don't push me up against this thing. I ain't hurting you."

It is 6 in the morning at Barn 8B at Belmont Park, the racetrack situated in Elmont, N.Y. The grooms are in the stalls talking to the horses, shaking out straw. Spot, the old, subdued dog, sleeps on the dark, raked-earth floor. Toes and Calico and the other cats wait on Popeye to bring their breakfast of jelly doughnuts and chicken. A rooster crows, far off. Sparrows awake in the dim eaves. There is the fundamental sound of water slowly filling a pail.

"I had a good time way down in Georgia," sings January. Large safety pins that had done up leg bandages are fastened to his trouser leg.

Alston, a slender, amused man of some abandon whom they call January, is a groom. He does not know why he is called January. "They just call you anything when you come on the racetrack," he says. January, who is 43, came on the racetrack in 1934 and has been with the stable since 1946. He makes $350 a month, shipping money and, on occasion, stake money. (When a stable horse wins a stake race, a portion of its earnings is divided among the hands.) January, like other stable grooms, works a 41½-hour week caring for three horses and their stalls. He has four children. "That's why I ain't got no money," he says. "Only things I never had was no money and no car." January is leery of cars. Once, when he was 18, his employer sent him for the papers. He was reading the dope as he drove back. "I was sideswiped," he says, ruefully. "I was scared four or five days. I wasn't doing no betting then either. I was just getting ideas.

"This is a pretty good game," January says. "This one here. Nothing wrong with this job. If you get up out of bed there's nothing to it. Ain't nothing to it if you start on time. Everything all right. I've fooled around. Now this is a little easier job than fooling with polo ponies, which I did. War shot that polo racket around Rumson, N.J." January was born in Warren County, Va. "I don't know the town," he says. "They got counties there." He was raised in Red Bank, N.J. "I worked on all kinds of farms in Jersey to make a little spending money," he says. "I worked in a defense plant. This here job, there's more excitement. It's not deadening.

"Ninety-five percent of the races are won in that stall," January says. "You ain't got no horse, you ain't got no race. My favorite horse was Oligarchy, but I just like horses like a person like a dog or a cat. I had to say Oligarchy because he won the biggest race I ever won. He was the kind of a horse like that he knew your voice and smell. He was an easy horse to work with. He was the color chestnut and didn't sweat. He had no bad habits, and he's a big, old stud, too. Only way to get along with a horse is find out if they mean or just roguish. Otherwise you'll be on your back. That's the little secret. A horse like music, you know. Most generally a horse like a radio. This is a good game, a good game, real good game. A good game.

"Tell your ma, and tell your pa...," sings January.

B.B. washes Social Leader's face with a damp rag. "This mare might win off her class," he says. "Off her class. Ain't nothing in there can beat her. Off her class, her class. This ain't walking up and down the street. You got nothing to worry about. All you got to do is get out there and run, Social. She'll win that little old race today."

"It was 73° at 5:30," says Big One, turning bedding.

"It'll be 173° before 7 o'clock," says Popeye. "Big One, you short a rider this morning? You can get on him."

"Ain't got no boots," says Big One, who must weigh 250 pounds. "I'm going to get a job as a bat boy. The New York Mets. A good job."

"How'd the Mets do last night?"

"They lost."

"Morning, Richard. How you this morning?"

"Still getting up."

"Still make it. Richard had to decide between the ring and the racetrack. You heart beating, Richard? Can you see? You legs last 20 minutes? You can still fight."

Richard McKinney is 31 and once had visions of fighting professionally. He wasn't much as an amateur, however. He was born in Aiken, S.C., wears violet socks, has six children and is a hot-walker, the humblest and most poorly paid job on the backstretch. Richard says he makes $50 a week. He works a 21-hour week. He has been a racetracker for some 14 years, in and out. Holding the horse by a leather strap called a shank, the hot-walker walks him counterclockwise, as at the races, around the walking ring, a dirt oval in the stable area. "There's nothing to it," says Richard, tonelessly.

Richard began walking hots when he was 14. "It looked easy," he says, "and it was something different." Richard says that in the past he has been an exercise boy and a groom. "For the pay," he says, "I'd rather be a groom. Otherwise, this is the best job. A lot of people end up walking. You've seen people come up, do pretty good and eventually wind up where they started."

He would like to get another job, from 4 p.m. to 12 mid. "So far, that's been fruitless," he says. Sometimes he thinks about leaving the racetrack. "You can always come back here," he says. "You learn something you don't forget. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, but that don't mean I'll wait around forever. First thing that pops up. This is more or less a standby." Richard has worked outside the gate from time to time. "I'm not skilled," he says. "I'm semiskilled. I did dry cleaning, not fancy but spot cleaning, rough spot, but that job paid $50 a week, too. I'd like to get back into dry cleaning. But if I did I'd have to get in as a porter, and that pays $45 or $48. They want a man with 10 years' experience dry cleaning. Last year I worked in a bakery shop. I wouldn't mind being a baker, but I don't have time to go to school. That blew up, too. I wasn't lucky enough to hang on to it. Like I said, you have to be skilled in order to make it. You don't, you're out. A little man has a small chance.

"A man can't really say the world has done him an injustice," Richard says. "A man is what he makes it. I've gotten a few raw deals but I don't think the world owes me anything. A small chance, I'll make it. I once tested stereophonic sound. Test and finish for $50 straight time. If there was something wrong I had the same map as the troubleshooter who got $90.

"Well, I got the rest of the day to get something else, you know what I mean. One of the advantages the racing game has is the chance to do something else. You get around. Do you know a good job a man can latch on to?"

It is 6:30 a.m. Frank Radigan, the assistant trainer, goes down the row of stalls in his tweed cap, looking in at the quiet, mute horses; large, dusky, inviolable eyes they have. Some of the stalls are eerily lit by heat bulbs, like a Doré engraving. Elliott Burch, the young trainer, high pants, container of coffee in his hand, rushes through to his office in a white house in the compound between Barns 8A and 8B. ZuZu, a black cocker fat with age and indulgence, follows him wistfully, gives up. The exercise boys drift in, pick up their helmets, gather at the bulletin board to find out who they are riding in the first set. There are about 25 horses in the barn divided into three sets, or groups, of eight horses each, some to be breezed, others galloped, others jogged, others walked.

Carmine Donofrio is an exercise boy. He is 22, has long, appealing lashes, is married, has a daughter and a son. Carmine makes $400 a month plus stakes, shipping money, hospitalization, etc. Much of his pay goes for acting lessons. "They're very expensive," he says in the new voice he is cultivating. Carmine was born in Brooklyn. His father had a butcher shop near the old Aqueduct racetrack, and Carmine began walking hots there when he was 13. "I was always fascinated by horses," he says. "I guess maybe because I was always so small. At 15 I started galloping in New England. At 16 I started riding. When I had a year to go at Boys' High, I wanted to go to Florida with the horses. There was a big beef at home. My gym teacher figured I was better off to go and get it out of my system. I should have finished school.

"I wasn't a bad rider but I had trouble—a weight problem. I was getting sick over it. I got a bleeding ulcer from it. I used to take 50 Epsotabs a night. You're supposed to take one or two. That's a laxative. Ed eat, then throw it up. That tears you up. Then Ed get out in the afternoon and try to hold 1,200 pounds. Ed be so weak when I got on a horse, when I got to the eighth pole it kind of caught up to you. I had two spills in Maine.

"To me, it's not an accomplishment. I'm not fulfilling anything. It's the best job on the racetrack and I enjoy horses very much, but it's like someone going to a factory from 9 to 5. Gallop my three horses, walk them, go home, same thing.

"I haven't got much education. I want to be an actor. I took acting lessons for one and a half months before I told anyone about it. I wanted to be sure in my mind. I feel I can accomplish something through acting. I enjoy myself doing it. I can help other people enjoy themselves. It's doing something where you can be someone else. You can create. I'm not tied down. It's an outlet. It gives you something. My teacher is clearing my speech up. I'm taking color. That's like: 'mad revolution.' Make the mad sound mad, or gay sound gay. I take rhythm, the pattern of speaking. I work on my emotions: fear, anger, hatred, the basic emotions. I love the stage. I'd love to go on Broadway. I have a new name for Broadway: Kip Sloan. As I got older I finally got riding out of my system, but there's a certain thrill about it that you never get enough of.

"Racetrackers are the sleepiest people in the world, always taking a nap somewhere. Don't let anyone tell you it's lovely to see the dawn."

The grooms give the boys a leg up on the horses, the old, easy ritual, and lead them out of the shadows of the barn to the walking ring. The boys stand up, test the stirrups, tighten the cinch, secure the whip under a stir up, perched high, small, absentminded and irreverent as sparrows on the shining horses.

"Turn him loose, fat man," a boy with a pinched, sallow face whom they call The One and Only Little Wizard tells Big One.

The boys casually parade their horses about the walking ring, reining up as they approach Burch and Frank. Burch bends down, coffee container in one hand, the other feeling the horses' front legs for heat or filling, and, in a rapid, abrupt monotone, gives the boy his instructions. "Some of them you have to draw a picture for," he says, wryly. "The general run of boys overeat, overlive, overeverything," says Frank. "Prosperity kills them or their background kills them or weight kills them. They grow up. Some of them were riders, but that herd—you get fainthearted. It takes courage."

The boys guide the horses out of the barn on the way to the racetrack. The sun transforms the coat of a horse the grooms call The Big Red Fox into a field of fire, like many coals. They go down the road in the dapple of pin oaks and maples. Pale green maple wings litter the pavement. A sign reads: Slow. Please Consider The Horses. "Tally ho, Big One," says The One and Only Little Wizard, the last to leave the barn, saluting with his whip.

Old John counts linen in the tack room. Old John, who wears gold-rimmed glasses, is the foreman of the stable. "John Calhoun," he says. "John H. H stands for Henry. John Henry Calhoun. I came to the races in 1919 when Man o' War was a 2-year-old. I worked for Mr. Jimmy Rowe of Brook-dale Farm until 1924, Mr. Max Hirsch in 1925 and 1926, grooming horses and rubbing. Mr. George Odom, I worked for him in 1929. I came to work for these people in 1930 and got the foreman in 1945. I rubbed Sarazen for Mr. Hirsch in 1925. He won the Gadsden D. Bryan in the fall of the year. He won the Dixie twice. One mile and 3/16th. I rubbed Broomspun in 1921. He won the Preakness. Later on he broke a leg and had to be destroyed. I rubbed Upset. Not when he beat Man o' War but when he was a 4-year-old.

"When I was small I worked with polo ponies and hunters where I was raised and born in Aiken, S.C. 62, no 61, years ago. I was raised up on a farm where they had mules and horses, animals, things like that. Just took it up and liked it, you know. I like to be around animals. They need someone that's not going to abuse them, fight them. I like the job. I like the people. Yes sir, this is a great game. More you around horses, more you like them. I'm up in the age and ready to quit it. Makes you kind of tired. I'll go to a farm and get a job on a farm with horses. You don't have to move around then. When you're young you can move around good. It's like a circus. Put up your bed before you go to bed."

The trainer's stand, an elevated shed, is located at the end of the stretch. Burch and Frank climb up to it. The ornamental fountains in the infield spurt blowsily, the rails shine with dew, blackbirds call sharply and fly across the track, their shadows preceding them, seeming swifter, on the harrowed loam. Horses are galloped by—harsh, stentorian breathing like a faulty, laboring engine—boys standing in the stirrups, pulling hard on the reins in the attitude of water skiers. The stable horses walk onto the track, boys humming, talking to each other, high voices drifting as palpably as smoke in the still air. It is a hot, silent, harmonious morning and the clubhouse is as grand, empty and reposeful as a Roman ruin. The stable horses turn and jog by, the boys, hunched, restraining them.

Max Hirsch, 82, the celebrated trainer, sits in his chair in the sun, fondling a worn rabbit's foot, abused by time and his fingers.

"Morning, Mr. Hirsch."

"Morning, Mr. Hirsch. You did all right yesterday."

Frank and Burch go over to the clubhouse and stand by the rail. On a terrace above them the clockers sit like conspirators. A stable horse starts his breeze at the half-mile pole. Burch and Frank start their watches.

"Thirteen and three."

"Thirteen and three."

"Twenty-six and two."

"Twenty-six and two."

"Fifty-two. She dogged it from the eighth pole."

"Fifty-two and some change," says Frank.

"What's that dark bay filly called, Elliott?" a docker calls from the terrace.

Burch looks disdainfully up at him. "Only two dockers are worth a damn," he says. "Sea Nurse," he shouts back.

"Wise Nurse?"

"Sea Nurse. Fifty-two."

They go over to where the horses, stained and blotched with sweat, are leaving the track.

"Fifty-two," Burch mutters. "She was supposed to go 48. It isn't always this way. It's never the horse that bothers you. It's the human element. It's the same in the afternoon." The Little Wizard rides up. "How he go?"


Burch winces. "No faster?"

"Uh, uh."

"Better shoot him," Burch says. "I'm not usually this jocular," he explains. "How'd she act, Carmine?"

"All right."

"Norman, you missed it a little." Burch looks about him. "Hosses, hosses, everywhere hosses. Morning, sir, how are you? That's fine. Everyone's friendly here—on the surface."

Norman Kerr is an exercise boy. He is 36, quiet, mannerly, has a fine carriage and wavy, dark hair. "I can remember," he says, "when I was a wee little kid grandfather put me on horseback and walked me around the barn. I was born in Winnipeg, Canada and my grandparents owned racehorses. My father was killed when I was 3. He was a salesman. I couldn't wait to get out of school to get to the racetrack. I was 15 when I quit school and started walking horses for my grandparents. At 16 I started galloping. At 17 I started riding—all the tracks in Canada. I quit riding in 1950. I was too big. I trained horses in New England for a year, but the man I worked for went out of business. I galloped horses for a few more years and then I went back to riding at Scarborough. I weighed 125. It wasn't hard losing the weight. I had a friend. It's not hard when you got someone with you on diet, hit the road together. I rode horses in Jersey last year, but I didn't do too good. I don't know what I'm going to do. I may go riding again around the fairs. It's all I know. It's a lot better when you're riding.

"It's hard to get started in anything else. You'd have to go to school to become a doctor or lawyer or something. I don't have brains for that kind of work. I guess this is the best kind of work for me. It wouldn't be too hard to lose the weight. I'd just quit eating." He laughs. "I'm not married. I never been in one place long enough. I live right in this house right here. I just sit around most of the day."

While the horses are out the grooms muck out their stalls, tote the old bedding off in muck sacks (great squares of burlap), fork new bedding in and toss and shake it out, hang up fresh, sweet feed, fill pails with water and set them along the walking ring. Then they sit out in the sun on broken chairs, bumming cigarettes and telling lies. Robins sing like fast, cold water in the secrecy of the trees. The hot-walkers go around, a melancholy carousel. In the comfort of the barn, cool as a root cellar, grooms rake bits of straw off the earth in front of the stalls, sweep the boards. Popeye trudges down the row, followed by cats.

"Come on, putty," he says. "You want your breakfast? How come you don't eat no more? You ought to stay home nights instead of running around so much. You don't want no doughnuts no more. You wants meat, you big, sleepy-eyed devil."

"How'd the Mets do?"

"They lost."

"Come on, cats. It's time for breakfast. Kit, kit, kit. What's the matter, girl, you in foal?"

"Where's the Ale Man?"

"Who is the Ale Man? It's Kingfish," says Popeye. "Next time you see that Ale Man commercial on TV you just watch him with that rub rag. Watch his left hand with that rag."

"Who is the Ale Man? Kingfish! See that last night on TV? Old Kingfish comes strolling through with a great big muck sack."

Evans Gantt is the serene, dignified man they call Kingfish. He is a groom. "How I started in this racket?" he says. "First with polo ponies in Aiken, S.C. Then I started working with hunters, hackneys, trotters. Then I quit. Went to the Army. Out of the Army, started to work here in 1945, 6th of October. Never will forget that. Why? Just a memory.

"Thought I was going to walk around awhile when I got out of the Army, but it don't feel right looking at other people working. When I was in the Army I learned a nice trade as a rigger but I never went back to it. I love horses. This here puts you in mind of the Army. I'm never lonesome. Always can get a dollar. Outside the gate you couldn't get a quarter. It's the way you carry yourself. Would I like more money? Hell, yes. Lord, have mercy.

"I was born in 1906, 6th of August, Aiken, S.C. That makes me a young boy. I was a country boy. I came to town. Things got so hard on the farm, I quit. Went to Florida in 1923. Worked on the highway awhile, tore down buildings. Started raining so much I came back to Aiken. Then I started to travel. Came to Philly. Was in a garage there five or six years. Worked at night so long I got tired. Quit that. Went to Atlantic City working in hotels. Quit that. Came back to Carolina. Went back in 1930. By God, the bottom fall out! Worked a few cars, private homes. Went back to Carolina and started working for horses. Personally, I didn't like it right away. Man in the Army told me the way to catch on is to stand around and look. Stood there and looked for a while and couldn't stand still.

"I can get up anytime. Get up anytime. People interested in work can get up. Going Away, Bold, I rubbed them. I ran Bowl of Flowers in the Gardenia. She won that. I rubbed a lot of winners."

Cats wrestle in the high weeds. Spot stretches, turns around and returns to sleep. "Old man time...," sings an old hot-walker in a billed cap, like a fisherman's. ""

"I told him yesterday the old gray horse wouldn't be on the boards."

"What you talk about? Won from here to Maine Chance barn, man."

"I was the biggest fool in the world yesterday. As they say, the day you lay off, they pay off."

"Not yesterday. You the biggest fool always."

"He run so fast the grass see him coming and jump out of the way and come down in time for the next horse. He wasn't mowing no grass. And the name of that horse was Round Table."

"How'd the Mets do?"

"They lost."

"He run under blue and yellow colors."

"Put your bean down." A dollar bill is flung to the ground. "He run under blue and white colors."

"He didn't run under no blue and white colors. Blue and yellow colors. I know. I looked for him to bet on and I didn't see no blue and white colors."

"There's my bean. Put your bean down."

"Shut up, Calico. You're not a damn bit hungry."

Calico walks off and goes into Matelot's stall. Matelot puts his head down and slowly licks Calico with his great tongue. They rub unequal noses, pink and somber blue. The boys come back and dismount in the galloping shed. Since it is a hot day, the grooms wash the horses in the shed, backs steaming under the sponge in the gray light. They dip their tails in the bucket and wring them out. Scrape them, rub them and throw a sheet over them.

"Look here," says The Little Wizard. "This horse let me do anything to him. I'm holding him by the ear. Some groom probably hit him and he scared of everything."

The boys lead the horses out of the shed and walk them about the ring, every so often lifting a bucket of water so they can drink and cool out gradually inside. After a bit the boys turn their sheets back, like turning down a bed.

"Street Fighting's a fretful horse," says Mike. "You can feel it." He holds a hand to his flank. "Everything he does. He gallops fast, he eats fast."

Several years ago when he was a bug boy, or apprentice, with three *s, or kisses (denoting a 10-pound weight allowance), beside his name, Michael Kay, a well-spoken, pleasant and dapper young man who weighed 93 pounds, was considered an extremely promising jockey. Today, at 25 and 103 pounds, married with two children, Michael Kay is an exercise boy. He hopes someday to go back to the races.

Michael was born in Hershey, Pa. His father, who had a Ph.D. in aeronautical engineering, worked with Einstein for 17 years, according to Michael. He died when Michael was 7. Michael went to an orphan school in Hershey which had a 350-acre farm. It was there that he became acquainted with horses. "It's hard to say why you like a horse," he says. "They look nice." Michael attended St. Joseph's College in Philadelphia for two years, studying biological chemistry. "I got a job, too," he says, "for a guy who had a few old horses—jumpers. I galloped them, mucked them out. Once in a while he let me show one. Then I went to work in a dental lab. This is ironic. A fellow came in one day, a dentist. 'Hey,' he said, 'how'd you like to be a jock?' 'That sounds pretty good,' I said. 'I'll bring you a contract tomorrow,' he said. I got to thinking and a friend of mine introduced me to Preston Burch [Elliott's father, the manager of the farm] and I went with him instead.

"I went to the farm in Virginia to learn how to ride racehorses. My first race was on Sword Dancer in 1958 and later on I broke my maiden on Sword Dancer, too. I was up at the races! I was the second leading rider at Belmont and Jamaica. I rode at Aqueduct, Hialeah, Tropical, Bowie, Laurel. I was doing quite well until...just an unfortunate situation. One year at Jamaica I broke my collarbone. The horse broke his bridle and as he fell I fell.

"I like this so much,'" says Michael. "This is my vacation. It's good to get up at 5:30 in the morning, see the sun come up over the hill. It's romantic. It's a good life. It's a liberal life. I love Belmont, the trees here, the big turns. There's a lot of room and good lighting. Take this, for instance: a tree!

"Today when I go to the races, sometimes it's like being on a bench in a ball game. My mother remarried a guy, they came out one day. I was so tickled. I won three races. Being a rider is a demanding sport. It's not like being a cop taking a ride. Riding from the quartet-pole to the wire is equivalent to a man working from 9 to 5. I mean, really sitting down and getting into them. You like horses as a group but you have to like them more when they win."

It is 10:30 a.m. The horses in the third set have been rubbed and taken back to their stalls. The boys have washed their tack and hung it up to dry. A groom sits in the shade, slicing carrots into a pail.

"This is the only thing left in the world where you can become famous overnight," Frank says. "All you need is one good horse and you never know when you're going to get one."

"I had 10 broodmares to muck out," says Ray Swope, an exercise boy. "Foreman! Sure, I was the foreman. I was the only man: boss and foreman and a pair of boots for $30 a week. The promises! Your gyps around there get you to gallop 10,11 horses, promise you the world."

"It's like everything else," Frank says. "Times go fast, things move faster, methods change. It's all for the good. It's so much better a life than it used to be."

"Racetracking is different now, somehow," says Donald Mercer, another exercise boy. "More like a business. When I used to get up in the morning it was, you know, kind of a good feeling. No more."

"My brother rides races," The Little Wizard says. "He brought me around. I was more of a carefree, didn't even give a damn. I worked horses from wire to wire but I never got to the wire. I broke my back. A horse fell on me. I was a week away from riding horses for Mr.———."

"Who's———?" Frank asks. "Where does he tend bar?"

"I'll say one thing," The Little Wizard says. "I wouldn't give the racetrack up. I worked in a factory once. They put a chisel in this hand and a hammer in this one. I swung but I kept missing. No education. That's my biggest fault. That's the reason most of us come back; lack of education."

"Know how many years Max Hirsch had?" Swope asks. "He was taken out of school at 4 years old and he knows every bone and nerve in the horse's body. There's very few horsemen at the track today. Your definition of a horseman is a man that can take a horse that's a cripple and make money with him. Anybody in this racket's got to be discouraged that's not on the top. I feel I can train horses but I'll never get the opportunity. I don't know anyone that's got money."

"There's only one important factor on this track," The Little Wizard says belligerently. "The exercise boy."

I was always too big," says Swope. "And I was born to it. I was born in Lexington, Ky. I was born right next to a racehorse. I used to sneak in the paddock and ride the yearlings using only a halter. A green yearling threw me as far as that walking ring."

"I got a dynamite story," says The Little Wizard. "I used to thumb 50 miles to get to the track."

"I quit and went to mechanic school," says Swope. "Bought a place but got in with the wrong people. The business failed. I'm too honest."

"Who made Bowl of Flowers? She made herself. The horse's got it, he's got it. He ain't got it, he ain't got it."

"One thing about a racetrack. If you feel you're being loused up, you can walk off. Only thing is that you can't better yourself. We're way underpaid for the chances we take, the skill, the work."

"Ah, you're a dedicated racetracker."

"I dig the horses, I dig the work. They'll never catch me outside that gate again."

"I ran the most honest, legitimate business as a mechanic. What do I do? They ruin me."

"We racetrackers always want to go home and punch the old lady in the mouth."

"You hear more gripes around a racetrack but it's the greatest sport run outdoors."

"Nobody ever gets the truth about the racetrack," The Little Wizard says. "What do you see in the movies? Mickey Rooney!"

They leave as they came, one by one. "I'm going to the beach and sit on the rocks and read poetry," says Carmine. "I had quite an audience yesterday."

Donald Mercer is going to his job at the butcher shop where he works from 12 m. to 7 p.m. "I bone and trim meat," he says. "I'm not real crazy about it but everywhere I go I try to get another job. In Florida I work as a valet parking cars. I get 17, 18 bucks a night on the weekends. Racetracking is a funny business. I've known a lot of boys been on the racetrack 10, 15 years. They go away but something always bring them back."

"Did I ever tell you about the first horse I bought, Donald?" Frank asks. "The man said, 'Now, this horse don't look too good.' I couldn't see anything wrong with him so I bid $37 and bought him. I took him home and found out he was blind so I took him back. 'I told you that horse don't look too good,' the man told me."

"Come on, girl, where you going? Hold it, little girl. Hold still before I get mad. Where you going? Brooklyn? You stop that!"

"Come on, you may look funny but you're not funny. So stop looking. You're just a bad actor. Now stop it!"

"I had a good time way down in Georgia...."

"What'd the Mets do?"

"They lost."

It is 11 a.m.