Mother Nature proves costly for Vinny Fitzpatrick in his pursuit of fast buck

Clontarf’s finest has to pinch himself as wife Angie sets up a trip to Belmont Park

Wed, Jun 11, 2014, 06:00

At every corner were curvy jockettes, handing out purple posters of California Chrome, and plastering purple strips on the noses of punters – it was a gesture of support for ‘California’ who raced with a nasal strip.

A buxom beauty called Sandie applied a strip to Vinny’s fleshy schnoz, which he wore with pride.

Studied the form

Ahead of the Belmont Stakes, Vinny studied the form and felt California Chrome was vulnerable over the extended distance. At odds of 4/5, he wasn’t value.

Instead, Tonalist made appeal to Vinny, as a proven stayer who skipped the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, and was fresh. He checked his wallet, winced slightly, but decided to invest $20 on Tonalist to win, place and show.

It was at this moment, that Vinny made his biggest mistake of the day. With a crate of beer rattling inside him, he waddled off for a pee, reckoning he had enough time to do his business and place a bet. He left things tight and when he arrived at a betting booth, where a large impassive woman was stationed, Vinny could see the horses being loaded up on a nearby monitor.

As Vinny reached for his dough, he became flustered. “I want to put 20 bucks to win, place and show on, er,” he stuttered. He couldn’t recall the name. “It’s tunnel-something or other,” he said, cursing himself for leaving his programme on the table.

The woman shrugged. “Do you know the number sir? I need the number.”

Vinny reddened. “It’s near the end of the field. It’s 10, I think. Or maybe 11. Hold on. I’ll be back in a tick.”

The dash to the table, to gather the programme, and get back to the booth, took Vinny no more than 20 seconds – it may as well have taken an hour.

As he blurted out: “Tonalist, 20 bucks to win, place and show,” and slapped 60 bucks on the counter, he heard the commentator call “And they’re off”. The poker-faced Tote operator flipped her window down to closed and turned away.

If Vinny was cursing his luck at that point, some two and half minutes later, he was positively fuming as Tonalist swept from the clouds to claim the Belmont Stakes at 10/1. At The Scurrier’s table everyone celebrated, as they were all ‘on’ and Vinny felt like a gate-crasher.

The Scurrier poured him a glass of bubbly and said: “You ok, Vinny? You look like you’ve found a dime but lost a dollar.” As Vinny lifted the sparkling wine to his lips, he said softly “you’ve no idea just how many dollars, Scurrier, no idea.”

Two hours later, Vinny was stuck in a lengthy queue for a train at the Belmont Park station where The Scurrier cracked a joke about the best way “out of here is on horseback”.

Vinny smiled to himself. Even allowing for the betting mishap, it had been a day to treasure.

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