Hazy steam rises from the stallion’s back as he snorts and sashays across the entrance to the track. I reach down to pat his dark, damp shoulder, and I can feel his muscles rippling under my palm. I breathe deeply, inhaling the sweet mustiness of hay, horses and Florida dew. I can do this. Or not. I have no idea.
“Go ahead and throw your cross,” whispers the rider next to me, as he studies my hands closely. He is scowling, this judge of my 6 a.m. job interview — my ability to navigate a racehorse around a gray oval of groomed sand.
This essay was the winner of a writing contest co-sponsored by the St. Petersburg Times and Saint Leo University. The full essay can be read on the Tampa Bay Time online.