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Ace Pitches a Deal - Recap

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The scene opens, as dark omens abound all around. Joey is at the end of his rope in the meanwhile. An employee at the stables gets a phone call telling her that her son is dead, leading to yet another snipe-fest between Escalante and veterinarian Jo. Walter Smith gets what appears to be a very disturbing letter; worry is very clearly written on his face. Meanwhile, flocks of birds are swooping away, and the horses are whinnying and bucking; unusual occurrences. It can only mean that something big and scary is about to happen, and on cue, an earthquake strikes; thus explaining the unusual behavior of the animals.

Thankfully, though, nothing bad comes from the quake, other than a few jangled nerves. In fact, the temor strikes just as Joey is about to stick a gun in his mouth and kill himself; thus ending the misery he is going through. Instead, stunned and shaken by the earthquake, the jockey agent accidentally fires, and the bullet ricochets (in a rather silly effects shot) off a pipe and grazes his cheek; thus Joey is saved, at least for now. At the hospital, after getting stitched up, Joey begins to realize something. He’s lost his stammer while regaining the will to live; a truly surprising occurrence for him. We’re looking at a new Joey Rathbone, one who’s eager to get back into the fray. Later on, he saunters into The Long Shot bar loudly proclaiming his drink order and greetings to everyone in the place. He even pulls off a tongue twister in the face of Ronnie, his former client. However, it doesn’t take too much time, or much taunting from Ronnie, for Joey to get his stutter back and revert to the sad sack we know.

So basically it’s back to square one, for Joey. Meanwhile, the track rats are excited to see Mon Gateau race again, even if two of them, Lonnie and Renzo, thought of scratching the horse after the quake. Marcus and Jerry quickly put the kibosh on this line of thinking, and we get to see the horse in action, this time being ridden by young jockey Leon. In the early going, Mon Gateau is caught in the middle of the pack before Leon presses him to surge, only this time, he bumps another horse. So while Mon Gateau wins, the result is placed under inquiry; there are aspersions cast on the horse’s win. The officials reviewing the race decide to uphold the results, though, since it looked like the horse Mon Gateau bumped was moving “backwards” anyway; hence it wasn’t really Mon Gateau’s fault.

The better friends, who go by the Foray Stables moniker, exult, as does Leon, who finally has something go his way, at long last. (Not happy, though, is the jockey who was riding the horse Mon Gateau bumped. In the jockey locker room, he accosts Leon and warns him never to let that happen again; frustration of losing clear on his face.) Meanwhile, Walter Smith’s Gettin’ Up Morning also gets to run this week, but not before the craggy old trainer/owner gets a threatening legal letter from the stepson of “The Colonel,” the man who owned Gettin’ Up Morning’s sire. The stepson wants Walter to pay back stud fees, which Walter says were originally forgiven by The Colonel as payment. The stepson, however, argues that The Colonel was not of sound mind; and thus wasn’t really in the position to make such a decision.

Walter had been reluctant to put a big spotlight on his horse, whom he knows to be a potential sensation, but now he’s really wary of doing so; especially with the dawn of the recent events. With this in mind, he tells jockey Rosie to sit tight and let the horse do all the rest during the race; as he is absolutely confident about his abilities. At first, it’s a tight contest, but as Gettin’ Up Morning begins to pull away, as expected, Rosie gives the horse two cracks of the whip to really get him moving, and then there is no stopping him . The horse wins by a huge margin while setting a track record, and a horse racing journalist up in the box says he’s just seen the “second coming of Man O’ War.”

Walter, however, is furious, and Rosie knows it, so she just hurries off when she sees how enraged the old man is. Later on, Rosie apologizes to him at the stable, and Walter appears to be understanding; although apparently still not pleased with how things have turned out. It’s about to get “crazy” now, he warns her, especially after this recent win. Just then, a younger man, apparently the Colonel’s stepson, shows up and asks, “How’s my horse?” Ace, meanwhile, is fresh off the night he spent in the stables with Pint O’ Plain. He has a big day ahead of him, and the earthquake doesn’t bother him at all. It’s time for his plan to kick into higher gear, as he arranges a lunch meeting with the owner of the track (Jurgen Prochnow) while his “go-between,” Nathan Israel, plunges into the shark tank that is Mike’s yacht, as he finally meets with Mike and his cohorts, DiRossi and Cohen.

They’re eager to know what Ace’s play is, so they move to put Israel on their payroll, too; that way they can expect a constant trickle of information. They also come away with the impression that Ace has the Indian gaming lobby on his side as he moves to push for legalized casino gambling at the track, so they decide to buy off the lobby themselves, in order to prevent him from getting the edge. Just when you think they’re pulling out the rug from under Ace, we see him meeting with the young investment guru. Everything has gone just as he expected it: Mike’s team is now scared about the Indian lobby, and they hired Israel to act as a double agent.

This doesn’t sit well with Israel, who says it makes him feel “sick.” If you’re sick, Ace tells him, it shows you’re an honest man, at least for now. Thus expressing the trust he has in Israel, at least for the present moment. Ace also takes a step toward a more romantic connection with Claire Lechay. He sends her roses, and later, they go out for a steak dinner. Something’s off, though; a fact that is clearly apparent from his behavior. Ace can’t seem to enjoy himself, but Claire tries to reassure him. She seems to understand the quandary Ace is in, and thus does her best to put his troubled mind to rest.

Meanwhile, we do see a little more of veterinarian Jo this week, but nothing more than her usual arguments with Escalante and references to their sexual encounters at least until near the end of the episode, where we learn, through her under-breath mutterings, that she’s “knocked up.” Presumably it’s Escalante’s kid, from the look of things. It comes across as a plot twist, probably to kindle the interest in a character and a relationship that hasn’t really distinguished itself yet. The episode ends with this seeming revelation.

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