Swan Song (Julie O'Hara Mystery Series)

Swan Song (Julie O'Hara Mystery Series) by Lee Hanson Read Free Book Online

Book: Swan Song (Julie O'Hara Mystery Series) by Lee Hanson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lee Hanson
said to go in the second entrance and they’d direct us to the barn.”
    They turned in and were surprised to discover that the stable area consisted of forty barns! And they were big , with thirty-six stalls each. Palm Meadows was three-hundred plus landscaped acres with a grid of horse paths connecting all the barns to a track. It was a state-of-the-art facility where thoroughbreds were never subjected to pavement. For the uninitiated, however, it was a dirt path maze. Fortunately, they were given a map with directions to barn ten, stall twenty-two, where they hoped to find Jack Folsom.
    If they were two minutes later, they would have missed him.
    There was a commotion outside stall twenty-two. A jockey was mounting “Pair-O-Dice”- a huge, dark-chocolate horse with a double diamond blaze on his forehead. The excited animal couldn’t seem to stand still. The trainer led the horse forward a few feet and settled him down. Folsom had short, dark hair parted nearly in the middle and a sinewy strength about him that reminded Julie of the boxers of yesteryear.
    “Hi,” he said, turning toward them, “Joe Garrett?”
    “Yep. You must be Mr. Folsom,” said Joe. “This is Julie O’Hara.”
    They all shook hands.
    “Call me Jack. Nice to meet you. This is Carlos,” he said, indicating the jockey, who smiled, acknowledging them. “We’re headed to the track. Pair-O-Dice is breezing today and we don’t have a lot of time. Do you mind talking while we walk?”
    “No, not at all,” said Joe as they fell in step next to him.
    “Did you say ‘breezing’?” asked Julie. “I don’t believe I’ve ever heard that term; what does it mean?”
    “Pair-O-Dice has been doing slow gallops for the last few days. Today he’ll ‘breeze’ at racing speed. The turf track is only open for breezing for an hour, so we need to get right over there,” he said. “You wanted to talk to me about Beau Grande and Linc Tyler?”
    “Yes,” said Joe. “Beau Grande came down on the twenty-seventh of January to train for the race on February fourth. Do you remember when he arrived that day?”
    “It was around dinner time, five or six o’clock. I remember because I was tired and I wanted to go eat, but I had to wait for Beau Grande.”
    “Did Lincoln leave after turning the horse over to you?” asked Julie.
    “No, he helped me get Beau Grande settled in for the night, and then we left.”
    “You went out to eat?”
    “Nah, I was too beat. I went back to the pavilion here at Palm Meadows. I’m leasing a one-bedroom apartment for the season. I invited Linc to come over for a sandwich and a beer, told him he could sleep on the couch if he wanted to, but he said he was all set, he had a room at the Best Western. Didn’t blame him. That’s a long ride for a sandwich and a couch.”
    Pair-O-Dice snorted and started dancing around again.
    “Almost there, boy, almost there,” soothed the trainer, picking up the pace a bit. The horse calmed down almost immediately and they resumed their walk.
    “Sorry,” said Folsom. “Pair-O-Dice loves to run. He senses it when we’re gonna let him go; makes him antsy. What did you ask me?”
    “I was asking if Lincoln Tyler was here the next morning,” said Joe.
    “Oh, yeah. Linc always comes by first thing in the morning to watch. I usually have the jockey pick it up down the stretch to see what kind of shape the horse is in. Lots of handicappers out here in the morning.”
    “What time would that be?” asked Julie.
    “Six-thirty.”
    “So you saw Lincoln here?”
    “Yeah, I’m pretty sure I did,” said Folsom.
    They had reached the track.
    “Look, I’m sorry, but I can’t talk to you guys anymore. I got a horse to run. I gotta get him out there now ,” said Folsom leading Pair-O-Dice onto the turf.
    “No problem,” called Joe after the trainer. “Thanks! Good luck in the race!”
    “Well, it wasn’t a total waste,” said Joe, as they walked back to the Land Rover.

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