California Chrome and Sunset Orange
by J. J. Cannon
First, big CONGRATULATIONS to California Chrome who has captured hearts everywhere and is being called a “modern-day Seabiscuit”. If my horse-racing fanatic grandfather (better known as “Doc Shah” in West Coast racing circles in the ’70s) were still alive, he would surely be swept up in the excitement of this story. Sunset Orange… a good name for a racehorse (or nailpolish!)? Maybe, or maybe they are just two little words I heard yesterday that captured a bit of my heart and inspired this post.
“Nick by a Nose” (working title), the YA novel I’m hoping to wrap up before the end of the year, was put on hold last fall while another book “@Sophie Takes a #Selfie” insisted on being born. Now that she’s settling in and making her mark, it’s time finish this story.
Inspired by true events, this story revolves around Nick Motta and is told through the eyes of his twelve year old granddaughter Nicki. It details their exciting, definitely-not-approved-of-by-Nicki’s-single-mother, adventures together in Southern California during the mid-1970’s. There is one big mystery…maybe two… (dun dun daaa)
An only child, Nicki lives with her mother, Roxy. There is an unspoken, but clearly understood, gag order barring any discussion of the existence or whereabouts of Nicki’s father. Nicki cherishes the time she spends with Grandpa Nick whether they’re diving for lobsters, being treated like royalty at the best restaurants in town or going to the track. Days spent with Grandpa Nick are always spur of the moment and exciting, especially when he picks her up extra early to watch a pre-dawn workout at Santa Anita. Soon enough though she is exposed to the darker side of racing, but refuses to believe Grandpa Nick is anything but perfect.
Grandpa Nick’s horse, Irish Mafia, who his girlfriend Marcelle has pinned all of her hopes and diamond-ring dreams on, is a sure thing at Aqueduct in New York that Fall, and Nicki and her best friend Kelly go along for the crazy, luxurious ride.
My grandfather was one of those people who, without a doubt, lived every single day of his eighty-something years as if it were his last. He was far from perfect, but I loved him anyway.
I didn’t set out intending to tell all of this today, but there it is.
Not sure if it’s just me, but this mind of mine never ceases to think about words and how I might string them together in an original way. As an example, I was driving home from the store last night with my daughters (10 and 8) we were treated to an especially beautiful sunset. We were having one of those simple, easy moments where no one was arguing and the conversation was sweet.
At one point, Sophie said, “Sunset orange is my favorite color.”
Bet you can’t guess what Nicki’s favorite color is going to be…
Thanks for stopping by,