Homestretch

Part 10

By: Girl Bard

girl_bard@yahoo.com

Disclaimer: See Part 1.

*****

For a split second, the crowd goes completely quiet. Then a loud roar erupts, louder than I ever could have imagined. I pat Baby's neck over and over, telling her what a good little filly she is and allowing her to gallop herself out.

Baby gradually slows, and for the first time I feel her muscles shaking with exhaustion. She's completely spent from her race, as she should be. I'm equally shaking, the adrenaline of what just happened erasing all thoughts of pain.

We just won the fucking Kentucky Derby.

Glancing at the tote board, I see Sea Storm battled for second with Foghorn coming in third. Baby's final time was 1:59 , only two sixteenths of a second off of Secretariat's winning time and the second-fastest Kentucky Derby ever run.

Not only did we win, but we won in style. The reporter on horseback comes riding over as our attending rider congratulates me. I'm in too much of a state of shock to really realize what is going on. Baby prances along the track as the reporter shoves a microphone in my face.

"How does it feel to have just made history?" She questions and I wipe the dirt off of my face with my silks.

"Incredible. This is the best horse I've ever seen and we have the best trainer." I tell her, my words coming out rushed and jittery.

"Did you have confidence you could win this race? You had a serious fall a few weeks ago, how did that effect you?" The reporter continues.

"I knew I had the best trainer and horse. My fall didn't affect me at all because I have the confidence of Ms. Santoro and the talent of Foxfire." I answer, patting Baby's lathered neck.

"Do you think you can win the Triple Crown?" She questions and I shrug my aching shoulders in response.

"If she stays healthy and we get a good trip, anything is possible."

"Well, you sure showed everyone today! Congratulations!" The reporter finishes before riding away.

The media is flocking around us as we arrive at the weigh-in, Charlie taking the filly's reins as I hop down and slide her saddle off.

"You done it girls, you done it!" He tells me over and over as he strokes the sweat-covered filly. I grin at him as I step on the scale and see it register at 121 pounds.

"The winners of the Kentucky Derby, check." The steward tells me with a smile as I step off the scale.

It's official now, and Charlie quickly puts the saddle back on the filly. "Hop up, girl, we're off to the winner's circle!"

The groom leads us over, where I am easily able to recognize Dena being mobbed by reporters. When she sees us, she practically runs over, patting the weary filly's head and neck and murmuring to her.

"You were perfect!" Dena calls to me, squeezing my leg in relief and gratitude. "I am so proud of you!"

The stewards place the familiar blanket of roses over Baby's neck and the sudden realization of what just happened hits me. Tears start freely flowing down my face and I look up at the sky, hoping I've made my mother proud.

A thousand shutters snap, and everyone takes our picture.

The rest of the ceremony flies by, reporters snap pictures and Dena receives a huge trophy. I'm interviewed a thousand times, and finally Baby starts pawing at the ground in frustration.

"Okay folks, that's enough." Charlie tells the anxious media who are all clamoring to pat the sport's newest hero.

I can't even keep my head on straight, I'm exhausted and it seems like everyone is talking at once. I feel like I'm in a movie, where everyone is on fast-forward, and I'm moving in slow motion.

"Let's go." Dena tells me as I finally am able to hop down off of Baby's back. The filly affectionately butts me in the head with her nose, and the force of it combined with my still-sore body is enough to send me toppling down.

But Dena catches me just in time. "We need to get you to bed." She says, the sexy grin I've fallen hopelessly for firmly etched on her face.

"I'll give everyone an interview tomorrow. Call my assistant Charlene to set up a time." Dena commands to the media before leading the tired filly back to the barn.

Charlie takes a hold of the other side of her head as the filly puts on a good show, prancing and whinnying the entire way back.

"You'd never thought she just ran the race of her life." The groom states proudly. He glances at me, struggling to keep up. "You two get on out of here, I'll take care of her." He clears his throat. "Ah, we having a celebration tonight?" Charlie asks, his grin revealing his white teeth.

"You bet your ass. I might never win the Derby again and I'm going to do it right. We'll come back here after we rest." Dena says, looking at me for confirmation. I nod in agreement.

"Let's go home, I'm starving." I tell her.

"Sounds good, I'm wiped out." Dena states as she gives control of Baby over to her groom and puts her arm around my shoulders.

"What do you say we get out of here, grab a shower and some food, and get some rest for awhile." She tells me and I can't help but grin.

"I'd say that's perfect."

*****

Once we get back to the hotel room, I strip from my clothes and leave them in a pile on the floor. "Shower." I tell Dena, still feeling dazed from the events of the day.

"Shower." She agrees, stripping and joining me.

My eyes close as Dena wraps her long arms around me from behind. She kisses the back of my head and I let out a long moan of complete satisfaction.

"I can't fucking believe it." I tell her and she murmurs in agreement.

"Me either." She says as she takes the washcloth and starts to gently lather my body. "You rode her perfectly."

"You trained her perfectly." I respond. "She was bred to win, she loves to run, and she's easy to ride. That's all because of you."

"And you." The trainer responds.

"Us." I answer and I feel her smile against my bare skin.

"We make a pretty good team." Dena says softly in my ear.

"Yeah." I tell her, trying not to shiver as her breath sends delightful waves down my belly.

"There's lots of things we are good at doing together." She continues as she runs the washcloth over my breasts.

"Yeah." I agree again, this time unable to stop my legs from shaking. It's as if the excitement and stress from today combined with the sexual frustration I've been experiencing since my accident have suddenly combined and turned me into a psychotic-sex-deprived-raging-maniac. I need Dena and I need her now.

"Dena." I whimper as her hand reaches around my body to cup my breast. "Let's get out of the shower. Now." I state and she chuckles low and deep behind me.

I barely have time to towel off before I am taking her hand and practically running toward the bed. She falls onto it, gently bringing me on top of her and my aching body lets out a sigh of relief as our naked skin meets each other for the first time in over two weeks.

"It's been too long." She tells me before capturing my mouth in a searing kiss. Her hands are frantic, yet careful of my still-healing and overtired body and I have to will myself to slow down as I try and touch every square inch of her body.

"I know. Let's never fight again for that long ever." I tell her as I grind my hips into hers.

"It was stress from the Derby. It won't happen again." She responds, moaning as our centers meet for the first time.

"Oh God, we can't deprive ourselves of this again." I answer, thrusting into her shamelessly. Her hands reach up to cup my breasts and I am mesmerized by the cobalt blue of her intense eyes.

"We won't." She states more firmly, rocking into me.

"I mean," I start breathlessly, "we were both upset and we never really resolved anything. We need to have better communi.."

"Gen, shut up and fuck me." The trainer commands and I am happy to oblige.

*****

Yawning, I roll over and wince at the fatigue still evident in my healing shoulders and ribs. I really am looking forward to the day where I can not have this stupid pain anymore.

But there's not much to do today, horses need to be fed and exercised, but it's a light work day. Baby needs to be jogged just to keep her loose, Elmer can jog with us, the colt will be walked by Dena and Bob, and Bits can be taken out by Maya.

An easy day for everyone. We leave for Pimlico on Tuesday after Bits runs in a turf race here at Churchill on Monday. Bob will drive the big truck up to Pennsylvania and then take the colt back home.

He needs to be turned outside for a few months, get his head on straight before we do any more with him. Dena's talking about picking up another horse to make the ride back with him so he doesn't get lonely.

We need Elmer here for the filly, and my own sanity. I love the big lug, and like having him around.

"Dena." I call to the trainer, who is uncharacsterically still asleep.

"I'm awake." She mumbles before pulling the covers over her head. I can't help but feel a sense of pride, we ended up skipping the party at the barn and having our own little naked-in-bed party.

"Come on, time to rise and shine. Besides, you have lots of interviews you promised to give today." I remind her and she groans from under the covers.

"Shit."

"That's what you get for training the best 3-year-old in the country. Lots of fame and recognition." I add, placing a soft kiss on her buried head before stiffly getting out of bed.

"Why are you in such a good mood?" She questions as I pull on my barn clothes.

I shrug, grinning at her as she removes the covers from her tousled hair. "I had great sex last night and now I get to spend the day with you and Baby. What more could a girl want?" I ask as I button my pants. "Besides breakfast. I'm starving so hurry up, will ya?"

If looks could kill, Dena would be commiting homicide at this moment. Instead, she elegantly climbs out of bed and heads directly into the shower. "Order room service, I'm not finished with you in bed yet." The trainer tells me, smiling saucily.

Scratch that, I can think of lots more things that a girl could want. And it looks like I'm going to get all of them.

*****

After giving countless interviews and completing our chores at the barn, Dena and I make up for skipping the celebration last night by taking everyone out for dinner and dancing.

Well, I didn't do much dancing. I'm trying to keep my movement down to a minimum until I'm completely healed. Now that we have a valid shot to win the Triple Crown, I'm not taking any more chances until after the Belmont.

Except for riding Bits in the turf race tomorrow. The mare is bombproof and she's long overdue for a race. I'm sure Dena could get someone else to ride her, but I rather do it.

"Let's get the hell out of here." The trainer suddenly whispers in my ear as she wraps her arms around my midsection. "We still have a lot of making up to do."

I smile. "Do I need to say goodbye to everyone?"

Dena snorts. "Why, you'll be seeing them bright and early at 6:00am."

"Good point." I respond as she releases me and offers her hand. Clasping it in mine, I wave to Charlene and Maya who are dancing with a very-drunk Charlie. "Everyone had a great time tonight, huh?" I tell Dena as I hop into her truck, the few drinks I've had making the pain from my injuries completely dissapear.

"I think so." She answers as she drives toward the barn. "Let's go check on everyone one more time, okay?"

"Sounds good." Usually Charlie and Maya stay in the barn, watching over the horses. Since Baby won the Derby, Churchill Downs has provided us with incredible security so the grooms have a little more freedom, but Dena doesn't trust anyone like she trusts her own workers. And I don't blame her, there are a lot of creeps around.

We find the horses dozing and quiet. Dena gives each of them a few more flakes of hay to keep them content through the night.

"Thanks, guys." We tell the burly security guards standing watchfully over our end of the barn. They give Dena a wide smile as we walk away.

That's my girl, always turning heads. Not that I mind it, hell, I'm damn proud to be the one she's chosen.

By the time we make it back to our room, it's almost midnight. As I open the door, I move to switch on the light.

Dena's warm hand closes over mine. "Don't." She whispers, her voice making the hair on the back of my neck stand up with excitement.

Closing her hand over mine, she silently leads me over to the bed, closing the door behind her.

"Let me show you how much you mean to me." The trainer tells me, her hair backlit by the sliver of moonlight that snakes its way through the opening in the drapes.

"You look beautiful." I tell her, my voice suddenly thick with emotion. There are so few things in my life that I cherish; and she is easily the most valuable to me.

"You are beautiful." Dena responds, placing her lips to my forehead. "So beautiful. I want to wake up everyday by looking into your eyes." She smiles, a sight so simply stunning it brings tears to my eyes. "Do you know they are the color of the most perfect turf? Eternal springtime." She breathes, touching her nose to mine.

I know I must be blushing, I can feel the heat on my face and I look away with embarrassment.

"Gen, look at me." Dena commands, and my eyes meet hers. "I love you so much that it consumes my every waking moment. Yesterday should have been the happiest day in my life, with or without you, and all I could think of as you crossed the finish line is how lucky I am to be sharing this with you."

No one has ever made me feel this way, or ever could again. "I don't even know you." I tell her honestly. "I mean, I don't know what your favorite color is or anything about your family."

"Me either." She responds, brushing her thumbs over my damp cheeks. "But I look forward to having an entire lifetime devoted to finding out all about you."

I grin. "It sounds good to me." The trainer's smile echoes mine as I lean in to kiss her. She wraps her arms around me as we sink down onto the soft mattress.

*****

As Bits loads easily into the trailer, I secure the now turf stakes-winning mare's halter before giving her a loving pat.

She ran her ass off yesterday for me and we won surprisingly easily. I am really proud of her effort, and Dena is just excited beyond belief that the once-bound-for-slaughter mare is now a stakes winner.

Shutting the door to the trailer, I double-check the latch before giving the all clear to Frank. Immediately, the man starts the big dually and allows it to creep down the driveway.

"Careful, isn't he?" Charlene asks as she grins at me. Nodding in agreement, I link my arm with hers as we head toward Dena's truck.

I've missed having the bubbly blonde around, the two of us became fast friends back at the farm and it's been nice having her up here since the Derby.

"So, my friend, tell me all about you and my boss." Charlene says conspiratorially as I hop into the backseat of the truck.

"What do you want to know?" I ask and she blushes, ducking her head and looking away. "Charlene!" I say in mock outrage, putting my hand over my chest in mock outrage. "You want details? She's wonderful, perfect, sexy, gorgeous, romantic,"

"Go on." Dena's deep voice calls as she pokes her head in the open door. "I like what I'm hearing, don't stop for my benefit!"

Charlene's boisterous laughter just makes my face turn an even brighter shade of red as I try to hide it with my hands.

"Let's get out of her ladies." The trainer says, relieving me of my horror.

"I'll drive." Charlene suggests, removing a videocassette from her purse. "You guys can relax and watch this."

"What is it?" I ask as Dena climbs in the back with me.

"I taped the Derby and all the interviews before and after for you. Thought you would enjoy it." The blonde answers as she starts the truck and follows the waiting trailer.

"You rock." Dena responds, tugging on a piece of Charlene's curly hair. "Thanks a lot for doing that."

"Yeah, well, just keep the volume turned up so I can at least hear it." She answers as Dena slides the tape in the truck's VCR. Grinning at me, the trainer settles back in the seat and puts her long arm around my shoulders.

"Gotta love technology." Dena states, pressing play and flashing me a bright smile.

The picture immediately reveals the famous twin spires of Churchill, covered with thousands of people, reporters, and horses.

I watch in fascination, thinking of how as a kid I watched the Derby year after year, never thinking I'd be running in it, let alone racing in it.

The main reporter comes on, giving the current odds and probable winners. As expected, the only two horses any of the reporters are really talking about are Foghorn and Sea Storm.

"Let's take a look at our Budweiser Longshot." The reporter says, and suddenly Dena's gorgeous form appears on the camera.

The voiceover shows Dena leading Baby, and then the familiar form of Gomez on her back placing second in the Florida Derby. The scene cuts to the easy race we ran before the Derby, and another shot of the filly's fast works days before the big race.

"Foxfire hasn't proven herself in any highly-rated stakes, but many Derby winners don't before the first Saturday in May. Trained by Dena Santoro and ridden by a first-year professional female jockey, a lot of things will have to go right for the filly to win today. But her breeding is impeccable, her winning times have been good, and she's clearly got speed. That makes Foxfire our Budweiser Longshot." The reporter finishes.

I snort. "Shows what they know. Not that many things went right on Derby day, sure she broke well and fast, but we had our own traffic problems."

Dena pats my arms. "I know, they're all talk. If we watch the coverage before the Preakness, all we'll here is how they all knew she'd win the Derby."

"Exactly." Charlene pipes in.

"Hey, it's me!" I exclaim suddenly, pointing to myself. It's the quick interview I gave right before going to the jockey's room and getting dressed. "I look weird."

"No you don't! Look how cute you are." The trainer exclaims, turning the volume of the TV up. "Nice interview, but you look nervous." She adds.

"That's because the jerk caught me right before I had to get dressed. I just wanted to get out of there!"

I quiet at the sight of Dena, dressed in her gorgeous linen white suit as the reporter shoves the microphone in her face. Charlie is in the background burnishing the filly's coat to a bright shine as she crops at the short grass next to the barn.

"Ms. Santoro, what will have to happen to let Foxfire win today?"

Dena grins at the camera, while the Dena sitting next to me scowls at her appearance. I elbow her in the ribs. "You're gorgeous." I mention.

"I'm hoping she gets a good trip, and doesn't have any traffic. All she needs is a track to run on and she'll be unbeatable." Dena tells the reporter who gives her a fake smile.

"How did you decide to go with Gen Dietz rather than a more successful and well-known rider? Aren't you worried her inexperience could cost your filly the race?"

The on-screen Dena looks like she wants to rips the reporter's head off. Instead, she gives him an even bigger grin as she answers.

"I chose the best rider for my horse. I have no doubt Gen is a better jockey than anyone else I've had on the filly. She knows the horse as well as I do and better so, knows exactly how to ride her." Dena answers the reporter who gears up for his next question.

"That was really nice." Charlene mentions.

"Yeah, it was. Thank you." I tell the trainer softly.

She shrugs slightly. "It's the truth."

Snuggling into her warm form, we watch the rest of the tape with smiles firmly etched onto our faces. *****

Turning my head over my shoulder, I see the waving figure of Dena as I ride the filly out to the post.

I'm going to be severely sick. Where in the heck did these last two weeks go? I feel like it was just yesterday we arrived at Pimlico, and though the time went fast with all the press we received, it feels like the Preakness should be at least another week away.

Trying to swallow the saliva that is building in my mouth, I pat the filly's wet neck as I post to her fluid trot. I know my attending rider is speaking to me, but I can't think about anything else other than the race ahead.

We've got to win. Foxfire not only has to prove herself to those who think she's just a Derby fluke, but win today if she has a shot at becoming the first filly Triple Crown winner in history.

Dena's been fresh and confident these past two weeks. The filly adjusted to the track here like a dream and has been working fabulously, even better than she had at Churchill. She's been healthy and sound and we couldn't ask for more.

In every interview, when asked if Baby had a chance at winning the Triple Crown, Dena's standard answer was, "Why not? We've already set new records, what's one more?"

I wish I could be as confident. Not that I don't have the utmost faith in the ability and talent of my horse. But anything can happen in a horse race, especially with all these other more-experienced jockeys that know way more tricks than I do.

We didn't have the luck we had in the Derby and draw an inside post position. Today, we are number 11, with only two horses to the outside. This is a huge disadvantage for Baby's front-running style. With ten other horses closer to the rail, she'll have a lot more ground to cover and a rough bit of traffic before going to the front.

Dena advised me to try and settle her off the pace and be content to sit fifth or sixth rather than rush to the front. I've never ridden the filly that way and am unsure if to try it with so much at stake.

"Good luck." The attending rider tells me as we are suddenly at the gate. All of my nerves disappear as Baby enters the gate effortlessly. She's the best horse I've ever seen, nothing fazes her.

The favorite, Sea Storm, enters the number five stall. He'll be hard to beat today, he's been training as well as Baby and he has a better post position.

InstaHot, a horse I've never seen before, loads into the 10 gate and immediately starts causing trouble. He rears, almost throwing his rider, and it takes two gate attendants to get his head down.

Most of the Derby horses are here, with the exceptions of a few that have been injured or are waiting for the Belmont. There are also three new horses, including the high-strung InstaHot that are trying for the purse.

The last horse loads, and InstaHot rears again. I talk to Baby, telling her what a wonderful and gentle little filly she is and her black-tipped ears flick nervously. I know she's unsure about the commotion, but she's being wonderful by not freaking out herself.

I'm ready to break; knowing as soon as InstaHot comes down on four legs the gates will open. As expected, they do and Baby springs out.

Always quick on the break, Baby doesn't disappoint. Grabbing the bit in her teeth, the filly jumps ahead of the majority of the pack. I guide her toward the rail, careful not to bump any horses charging behind us.

Clear, I settle her behind the speedy Lightfoot, who surges away to the front just like in the Derby. The two grays, Ca Ching and Sea Storm tuck in behind me and the rest of the field surrounds us.

The far turn comes and goes, and I allow the speedy leader to draw ahead. Homebred moves up to challenge him and I shake my head as the two pratically bolt away. Neither will have anything left for the stretch drive, and that's fine with me. Two down, ten to go.

Down the far stretch I give Baby a little more rein to keep her a bit broken from the bunched pack. We're running third right now, and that's perfect for her. She doesn't like when other horses are breathing down her back end, and in this spot she settles nicely and is the picture of a perfectly-poised racehorse for the stretch dual to come.

I hear yelling behind me, and I turn to look. Wingding is being severely bumped by InstaHot, and it doesn't look like the two jocks can do anything about it, they are standing in their irons and jerking the horses away. When clear, Wingding bolts to the front and almost crashes into Baby.

Pulling slightly on her reins to get a little more control, I carefully watch the colt to my right, making sure he doesn't bump me and injure my horse. I don't want what happened to Chance to happen to my filly. I don't know what I'd do.

By the time we reach the turn for home, the field has started to make their move and are gathering up around us. Lightfoot and Homebred start to stagger as if their batteries have died and Wingding drops back in the field. I see the red-hooded Sea Storm out of the corner of my eye and know he and Foghorn are back there, waiting for the filly to quit.

But she won't.

"Piece of cake, little one." I tell Baby as we reach the stretch for home. I will let her sprint earlier than in the Derby, this race is 3/16 of a mile shorter so I need to get the filly ahead now.

"Let's go!" I call to her, encouraging her with my hands. Baby responds, her powerful hindquarters digging into the hard Pimlico surface. She begins to draw away from the field, but Sea Storm stays with us for a few seconds. When Baby doesn't draw away like I would like her too, I use my crop twice and then wave it next to her eyes.

That does it, and the filly's mind is completely on business. She bolts ahead of the gray and Once we find a clear path, I let her go by allowing the reins to slip all the way through my fingers, allowing her to run to her heart's content. Her speed never ceases to amaze me.

I'm almost thrown backwards by the force of her sprint, and I tangle my fingers in her thick black mane for stability as she draws away from the field. My crop rests against my leg, and I doubt if I'll have to use it again today.

"They're cheering for you!" I shout to the filly as the crowd goes wild. There is no horse nor rider ahead of us as the wire grows closer, and I know everyone is amazed by the sheer speed of my horse.

She gallops for the sheer joy of it, and all I can do is sit and enjoy the ride. Baby is so fluid it's as if she's not even moving. Only the blurry forms of the white rail and colorful grandstand show she's moving at all.

As the wire grows closer, I glance behind and almost wet my pants. We are easily 15 lengths ahead of the next horse. My filly is literally running away from the field.

"Yah!" I can't help but cry in joy. I want to shout to everyone who's doubted our horse or Dena, or myself and thought the filly had no class, "Look at her demolish this field!"

The noise of the crowd, their frantic cheering and the thundering of my filly's hooves are the sweetest symphony I've ever heard. Baby sweeps under the wire, completely exhausted and a true champion.

*****

Slamming her cell phone in disgust, Dena lets out an unintelligible curse.

"How much this time?" I ask, studying a picture of Baby in Sports Illustrated.

"Four million." The trainer responds, smiling slightly.

"Four million? Please, she's worth eight times that." I mention as I read the article covering Baby's brilliant Preakness victory. Since we won the race a few days ago, Dena's been getting call after call from people wanting to buy the filly, usually for an outrageously low price. But someone offered Dena 20 million for her. She hung up on them.

"It's better than the crap some of the others have offered me for her." Dena says as she flops down on a bail of hay in the aisle. "I mean, she's already won over 2 million in purse money, do they really expect me to sell her for twice that? Her first foal will be worth 2 million."

"Really?" I ask, looking up from the article that touts the filly's victory by 12 lengths. It was actually 16 lengths, and she broke the race's 29-year-old record by a full second, not a 1/16 like it's reported here. This article also makes it sound like she outraced a bunch of no-class horses, not the best 3-year-old colts in the world. Retards.

"Sure, not that I'd sell her first foal or any of her foals. But I'm sure that's what they would be valued at. Even if we lose the Belmont, no filly has won both the Derby and the Preakness. Plus, her breeding is so good that buyers would be frothing at the mouth to get some of her stock." Dena responds as she pulls long wisps of hay from the bail.

"Who would you breed her too?" I question, always curious about Dena's ideas. Hell, she bred the filly so she could obviously become a brilliant breeder.

Her striking blue eyes study mine. "I'm not sure yet. There are a lot of nice up-and-coming sires. Monarchos, Touch Gold, just to name a few."

I immediately think of Monarchos, the beautiful gray stallion that held the record of having the second-fastest Derby time until we broke that three weeks ago. "He's nice." I mention, wondering what his and Foxy's baby would look like.

"But I want her racing for years to come, not in the breeding shed." Dena says, absently braiding together the pieces of hay.

"She will be." I respond confidently. "Nothing's going to stop us from winning the Triple Crown."

Dena's eyes meet mine as she stands up and offers me her hand. "Come on then, let's go to Belmont."

Part 11

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