"What a month," Comet thought to himself. The Fall Meet at Churchill Downs had been romp. After he easily broke his maiden, he pounded the competition in the allowance ranks. A win in the Grade II $500,000 Clark Handicap would have been the tinsel on the tree - the very idea of defeating the likes of Einstein and Commentator made him absolutely giddy - but Huey got into a verbal altercation with a racing official prior to the race, resulting in a late scratch and a fine.
"He said some unflattering things about you," the elf had informed Comet. "So, I reminded him of the time when he was 11-years-old and he swiped Mr. McGooken's brand-new riding lawnmower and took it on a joyride around the neighborhood. Put him squarely on the Naughty List that year, I told him. And if that jerk didn't apologize for calling you The World's Ugliest Equine, I could assure him a return trip to the Naughty List."
Needless to say, it seemed like a good time to quickly vacate Churchill Downs and head to the Fair Grounds. Huey had a weakness for jazz and beignets. And that P Val character owed them a favor or two after last year's debacle in California.
When they hit New Orleans, Comet and Huey had met up with Huey's cousin, Sid, a rogue elf that left toy manufacturing behind to play the ponies. Not only was he an excellent handicapper, he had the knack to secure good jockeys for Comet. Francisco Torres and James Graham were somehow magically available to ride after a few words with Sid. And Comet had recently observed Sid chatting it up with Jamie Theriot. Huey surmised that Sid's success had more to do with residual Elfin Magic rather than smooth talking.
"Hey, Huey," Comet called out from his stall. "Don’t you think we should be getting back to The North?"
"Oh yeah," Huey mumbled absentmindedly, concentrating on The Daily Racing Form.
Comet continued speaking. "Filmore’s probably started training camp. I’ll be lucky if I even get the Christmas Eve gig if I don’t get back there soon."
"I wouldn’t be worrying about Filmore," Huey replied. And muttering under his breath, "He’s a doofus."
"You know, ol’ S.C. put up a lot last year with my little expedition to Hollywood Park and all," Comet said.
Huey let out an exasperated sigh. Rolling his eyes back he spoke directly to Comet, "There’s nothing to worry about. Just a couple more races then we head home. Good stakes races are a little sparse at the moment, but I've got you lined up in the Classic on Louisiana Champions Day next Saturday. Easy. $150 K purse. Party on Bourbon Street. Buy Mrs. C. a nice Christmas gift. Home before the first Polly Pocket is loaded on S.C.'s sleigh." Huey returned to his racing form, "And you could teach that Guitar Hero a thing or two."
"Star Guitar," Comet corrected.
"Whatever," mumbled Huey.
Comet fidgeted. He loved this. He loved racing. He loved being with thoroughbreds. He loved the Call to Post. He loved the railbirds. He loved the post parade. He loved hanging around with D. Wayne Lukas. And he especially loved flying across the wire first and having his photo taken in the Winner's Circle.
But the fact remained that Comet was a reindeer. Not just any ol’ Norwegian variety reindeer, but he was Santa’s reindeer. A flying reindeer. And Christmas Eve was only a few of weeks away, and racing against Star Guitar or Autobeacat didn’t seem nearly as important as making sure that Teresa got a Hannah Montana Malibu Beach House, or John received a Nerf N-Strike Vulcan EBF-25 Blaster.
"Hey, dreamer!" called out Huey.
Comet shook off his reverie. "What?"
"Time to head over to the paddock." Huey folded up his Daily Racing Form and stuck it behind his back into the waistband of his blue jeans. "Sid thinks he can lure Borel to ride next time," he said nonchalantly. He opened Comet's stall.
"Calvin Borel? Sid knows Calvin Borel?" Comet asked excitedly.
Huey grunted in affirmation.
Comet's hooves didn't touch the ground all the way to the paddock. Calvin Borel might be his rider. Thoughts of returning to the North Pole were immediately forgotten; Comet was thrilled. He greatly admired Calvin Borel, especially when he won the Kentucky Derby aboard Street Sense.
All of a sudden, Comet harbored the idea of going back to Churchill Downs ... on the first Saturday of May.