Sara struggles to find her place in the fast-paced world of Thoroughbred horse racing, but will the arrival of a new trainer cost her everything she's worked for?
Fast horses, strong personalities, and the thrill of mixing business with pleasure fill Sara's world as an exercise rider. Her real desire, though, is to ride her favorite stallion, Cat, to victory in a race. There are two problems with this dream. The first lies in the fact she is a woman who wants to be a jockey. The second is a new, sexy horse trainer named Carter.
While Sara struggles to stay focused on her dream, Carter fights to prove his past doesn't define his present. Will a tornado, a wounded jockey, a rich rival, and a horrible accident ruin everything, or can Sara cross the finish line in A Race for Love?
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"How could this have happened?" Mr. Abbott questioned.
"Well, you know the horse is temperamental—" Carter started.
"Was he off before Corte got on?" Mr. Abbott asked.
"No. Sara didn't have any problems with him today. He was a little stronger, you know, because of the mud, but they managed alright. Actually, they had one of their best workouts. But she understands his quirks. To be honest, Corte didn't take her advice and they fought with each other the entire go 'round."
He paused again. "Well, you know we were lucky getting Corte. After all, this is the busiest weekend of racing with the Golden Mile, the Florida tracks still in season, and the East Coast tracks starting their spring meets." He shook his head. "No, I don't know of any jockey in need of a horse to ride in the Golden Mile."
Sara could hear Mr. Abbott's voice raise on the other end. She figured he had started to put some pressure on Carter, knowing that he and Cat's other partners had a lot to lose if the horse didn't run in the race. Not only would they lose out on the chance of taking home a $500,000 purse, there were other perks that came from winning this race, including points toward the Triple Challenge.
"Well, I'll see what I can do," Carter told him before ending their conversation. When he hung up, he looked like he had just lost his best friend. Sara had never seen him so whipped. For the first time since she met him, he seemed vulnerable.
"You know I won't be able to find another jockey," he said. "Even if there were someone available, once word gets around what happened to Corte we might as well forget it. No one will want to take a chance on getting hurt with this only being the first leg of the Triple Challenge, and two more races in the series yet to run. Nope, our horse is probably already pegged for dumping jockeys."
Carter paced the aisle. Between the filly that had colicked the night before and having to scratch her, and now Cat with no jockey, it had been a bad turn of events for the young trainer. "Why the hell couldn't Corte just have listened to you and tried to get along with the damn horse instead of letting his anger show so Cat could feed on it!"
Sara reached out and touched his arm, trying to calm him down. "Carter, I think there's only one option now..." She paused, gathering her thoughts. "I'll ride Cat in the Golden Mile."
Carter pulled away from her and focused his look. His face became skewed like he had just bitten into a sour lemon. "That's not an option!" he snapped.
Sara bristled at his abrupt response. After all of this...did he still think she wasn't a capable enough rider? "I can't believe you! I don't think that either you or your good old boys have a choice at this point. I seem to be the only one that can make it around the track in one piece on Cat," she fumed.
"Sara, I never meant that you weren't good enough. God knows I'm not that stupid or blind. I've seen you with that horse and I know that he'll run for you, and probably better then he would for anyone else. It's not that at all."
He reached out and pulled her close to him. Her first reaction was to resist his touch. "Damn it, do you have to be so obstinate?" At his outburst, she stopped fighting him and listened to what he had to say. "You can't blame me for wanting to protect you. Even if Mr. Abbott agreed to let you jockey in the race, I would never forgive myself if something happened to you. I know you've developed a relationship with Cat. But to be honest, he's kind of a nut and I'm sorry if I don't want the woman I'm in love with to get herself killed just for a stupid horse race."
Ann Black is a former newspaper journalist, and worked in the media for over 25 years. She is well-published in the non-fiction genre—including several books in the equine industry. In addition, she has had numerous poems that appeared in anthologies and chapbooks. She has been a horse owner for over 35 years and maintains a small horse farm in Michigan.