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Seabiscuit, An American Legend

Hillenbrand, Laura | Random House, 2001


p. 49

“Red Pollard was sinking downward through his life with the pendulous motion of a leaf falling through still air. In the summer of 1936 he was twenty-six and in the twelfth year of a failing career as a jockey and part-time prizefighter. He was an elegant young man, tautly muscled, with a shock of supernaturally orange hair. Whenever he got near a mirror, he wetted down a comb and slicked the hair back like Tyrone Power, but it had a way of rearing up on him again. His face had a downward-sliding quality, as if his features were just beginning to melt. He was, statistically speaking, one of the worst riders anywhere. Lately, at least. Once, he had been one of the best, but those years were far behind him. He had no money and no home; he lived entirely on the road of the racing circuit, sleeping in empty stalls, carrying with him only a saddle, his rosary, and his books: pocket volumes of Shakespeare, Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat, a little copy of Robert Service’s Songs of the Sourdough, maybe some Emerson, whom he called ‘Old Waldo.’ The books were the closest things he had to furniture, and he lived in them the way other men live in easy chairs.”