the Death-Hole



the horse owner who is also a famous painter told me that

he had paid 450 thousand for the horse and that it

would have been a million except that the horse had

this small bump but the small bump had gone away and the

horse had raced to its breeding and its potential and

today he was running in a million dollar race and

the trainer said it was ready and that if they won

it was probably on to the Kentucky Derby.


the owner-painter took us down to the walking ring to

look at the horse and the horse looked good, then

he gathered his friends about him and a photo was taken

and then we went back upstairs to the box and we waited

for them to warm up and then they were approaching the



the horse read 3 to one under a morning line of 7 to 2,

had one of the better jocks and the trainer was the

leading money winner of the nation.


everybody had tickets on the horse. that is, almost



then they were in the gate and then they were off and

the horse broke in mid-pack, then gently eased over to

the rail, stayed mid-pack for a while, then along the

backstretch it began to move up and then it got just about

even with the leaders at a spot just before the turn that

I called the Death-Hole.

I had seen thousands of races at that track and I had seen

almost every horse stop at that space along the rail

just before the last turn home.


but the horse looked good and I thought it might beat the

Death-Hole but then it stopped and just started dropping



there was a terrible silence in the box about me.


the other horses came around the final curve, then the

even-money favorite got to the lead in the stretch and

held it all the way down to the wire.


“my horse finished last,” said the owner-pointer.


"there'll be another race,”

I told him.


            (cont. new stanza)


2-the death-hole                                                            2-buk


his friends started telling him jokes, trying to cheer him



I thanked him for inviting me over, shook hands with him

and his friends, then left for the checkout room to turn

in my borrowed coat and tie for my old jacket, then

walked over to my section of the track, sat down and

looked at my program, there was still the 9th race.


my guess was that the owner-painter would get back to his

paints and paint his way right the hell out of all of


laying his brush against the largest odds ever



then I bought a ticket on the 6 horse and got out

of there.



Charlie Bukowski