At last, Wonder's Star has begun to recover from the illness that halted his promising racing career so suddenly. The vet says he'll be back on the track in no time. But Christina Reese is convinced the colt has lost his spirit. She can't seem to communicate with him like she used to. Christina needs help.
When Lyssa Hynde offers to work her magic with Star, Christina takes the colt to Lyssa's ranch in Montana to rehabilitate. But Montana is worlds away from the track, and Christina and Star are lost there. Will Christina and Star learn to take risks and trust each other again?
About the Author
Joanna Campbell appears here with her six-year-old Thoroughbred, Meyersville Magic, known around the barn as CC. He's a son of Horatius out of Northwich by Timothy's Champ and is owned by Cathy Day. Formerly trained for racing, he is now being trained for eventing. Last Year he was the Maine Entry Level Champion in Combined Training.
Read an Excerpt
"Ms. McLean, I'm afraid you'll never race again." The doctor's devastating words echoed in Cindy McLean's head as she left the downtown Lexington medical clinic. Never race again. Cindy made it out the door and then leaned against the clinic's rough brick wall, not trusting her legs to carry her to her car.
An icy gust of January wind swept over her, ruffling her short blond hair. Cindy automatically pulled her coat closed, feeling a twinge of pain as she shifted her left shoulder. At least her recent shoulder surgery had taken care of the constant ache that had tormented her for the last few years. That was something to be thankful for, she reminded herself. But at the moment she didn't feel very grateful.
A group of teenage girls walked by, carrying brightly colored shopping bags from a downtown department store. Still numb with shock over the doctor's grim words, Cindy listened to them laugh and talk as they crossed the busy street. Itseemed strange to see people go on about their business when her life had suddenly been turned upside down.
A second gust of wind sent a scrap of paper tumbling along the sidewalk. It reminded Cindy of the video clip she had watched of one of her more spectacular accidents on the racetrack.
It had been near the end of the Riva Ridge Stakes, and she was galloping her colt into the final stretch, sure they were going to pull off a win. She had eased the Thoroughbred she was riding into a space between the lead horse and the rail. When the outside horse swerved toward her, Cindy's horse slammed into therail. He flipped, sending her flying into the middle of the track and into the path of the rest of the field of racehorses.
In the video she had looked like a rag doll, rolling and flopping under the churning hooves of the ten Thoroughbreds running that day She shuddered slightly at the memory and shook her head. But wrecks were what came with racing horses; she knew that. And she was willing to take the risks, if only she could race again.
Another blast of wind cut through her coat, forcing her to move. Cindy felt like a robot as she walked stiffly to her car. She slid behind the wheel and started the engine to let it warm up. The numbness surrounding her slowly faded, only to be replaced by a terrible, aching emptiness. Cindy clenched her fists and focused on breathing steadily.
Rotator cuff surgery was supposed to have repaired the damage her shoulder had sustained over the years. When Cindy had decided to have the surgery, she had planned to take a few months off to recover, and then return to the track as soon as possible. She had been certain her leave from racing was temporary. But according to the surgeon, repeated abuse had made the joint weak. If she reinjured it, she might never regain full use of her arm. Unless she was willing to take that risk each time she went into the gate, Cindy would never race again.
For the last sixteen years racing Thoroughbreds had been her life. But now any hope that she might return to the track as a jockey had been ripped away with a few words from the surgeon.
A sob caught in her throat, but Cindy gritted her teeth and forced it down. One thing she had learned as a jockey was that if you got knocked down, you got right back up and kept going. The world didn't wait for quitters. And Cindy McLean was no quitter.
Her gaze settled on a sun-bleached parking pass from Belmont sitting on the dashboard. Cindy had spent the last twelve years at the famous New York track, earning a reputation as one of the best women jockeys, and one of the top all-around jockeys, on the East Coast.
Then, last fall, she had wrenched her shoulder so badly that she had been unable to use it for several weeks. She had forced herself to ignore the pain, but it didn't take long for the trainers and track officials to order her off the track until she had a doctor's clearance.
So Cindy had come home to Whitebrook, the Kentucky breeding and training farm where her father, Ian McLean, worked as the head trainer. As a young orphan who had run away from an unhappy foster home, Cindy had been drawn to Whitebrook by the horses. Ian and Beth McLean had adopted her, and she had grown up working with the Thoroughbreds there, riding and helping to train the high-strung racehorses.
Ashleigh Griffen, a highly acclaimed jockey, owned Whitebrook with her husband, Mike Reese. Ashleigh had helped Cindy fulfill her dream of becoming a jockey Ashleigh knew how hard a woman had to work to succeed as a jockey, and Cindy had been determined to make Ashleigh proud of her. Cindy sighed. For all her dreams of coming back to Whitebrook a proud success, she sure had been humbled.
She put the car into gear and merged with the traffic. It took only a few minutes to get out of downtown Lexington, and soon she was in farm country. She drove past small farms with simple homes and barns, and large estates with long curving drives that led to stately brick mansions and sprawling barns. Rail fences divided rolling fields of Kentucky bluegrass.
Near many of the barns, large paddocks held young Thoroughbreds of every color, from dappled gray to gleaming black. Groups of yearlings stood together, grazing or staging mock battles with each other. Too young to be raced and too old to be with their dams, the colts and fillies would soon be trained to accept the weight of a rider on their backs, and in another year they would begin their racing careers...Thoroughbred #45: Star's Chance. Copyright © by Joanna Campbell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.