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Blue Nitro the Finger Eater
Dave, my hotdog partner, and I accepted an offer from a couple of money guys to develop a system for selling reproductions of the photo finish at the cigar stands at the New York State Racing Association flat track system: Belmont, Aquaduct, Saratoga. The Saratoga season occupied the month of August. For that month Dave and I took a room in nearby Balston Spa at the Whitehorse Hotel, Michelob on tap in the men-only bar. At Belmont and Aquaduct we’d arrive in the morning, go about our business, and go home: we had nothing to do with the races themselves: the horses, the stables. But at Saratoga the track was our whole day. We started attending the evening events, watching the morning practice, walking among the stables, talking to the handlers. One afternoon I recognized the name on one particular stall as a winner that day: Blue Nitro. Beautiful horse, and there he was being walked. I was never much of a horse guy but in this case I went over and started stroking Blue Nitro’s muzzle. The horse was instantly intimate with me, kissing my hand, licking my hand, sucking on my fingers.
an heir I presume
Blue Nitro had won that day. Normally I didn’t know one horse from another. But I’d met this one, the name stuck with me: and every time I noticed his name in the morning line thereafter, he won! and I wasn’t surprised.
“Don’t let him get your fingers in his mouth,” said the handler, “He’s a finger-eater.” The exercise boy held up his own right hand: several fingers missing! just stumps! Then he showed me his left hand: a couple of fingers missing!
I still have ten. I’m sure glad the handler warned me in time.
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