This is based off of the Thoroughbred series... enjoy!
Chapter One: The Choice
Melanie walked out of the barn furious. Brad Townsend had just decided to give Melanie a choice. The choice was terrible and it was forced. Brad told her in order to pay off for Image staying at Townsend Acres, she could ride for Townsend Acres or she could give up Image. Melanie knew it was an obvious answer; she couldn’t give up her prized Derby winning mare. It would be way too hard.
But then again, why would she want to ride for the snobby Townsend’s. Christina was already mad at her and if she left Whitebrook to work for her boyfriends Farm… well, it just would end up worse.
How do I get myself into this? Melanie asked herself. But the answer was simple. She was desperate for Image to live and the Reese’s weren’t focusing solely on her.
Selfish old me… Melanie mumbled as she tacked up Townsend Triumph for a workout.
When Melanie arrived at the track ready to perform her first workout for Brad, he walked up to her. He seemed very happy about something and he said.
“Melanie! I really hope you will ride here and all… we really need a new jockey and you would be just the person!” He continued, “Just imagine! All the Derby trips and Breeders Cup trips! You would definitely pass up Christina and she wouldn’t take rides you could have had and…” Brad definitely was excited.
Melanie began to feel excited too. Sure, she felt somewhat guilty because she was betraying her relatives but sometimes, you have to start over. She swallowed… hard.
“I will ride here. I like this place much better than Whitebrook.” She said matter a fact.
“Good, now take Triumph three furlongs at a breeze. He should do pretty well. I mean, I know he’s not experienced or anything but…”
“He’s like how Image was before.” She said nodding.
“Exactly.” Brad smiled. He was so happy that Melanie would be here, besides, she wasn’t related to Ashleigh at all… just Christina, (who he absolutely despised I might add)
Melanie smiled back and hoped on Triumphs back. The big bay colt was very smooth and Melanie liked him a lot.
He breezed at a fair time. He actually did pretty well for his first time. 37:80 wasn’t bad at all. Melanie was very pleased and the colt barely broke a sweat.
“Impressive! Now, I need to talk to you about Image and breeding her if you wouldn’t mind…” Brad said motioning for a groom to take Triumph.
“Listen Brad, I know Image breeding is my decision as to whom but not to when. Jazz owns Image. I’m the trainer and jockey… not the owner.
“I understand but why don’t you talk to Jazz… call him up. I don’t mind.”
“Ok, I’ll call him, but foals are expensive and I don’t know if he has the extra money lying around…”
“Just call him! The phone is right there!” He said.
Melanie obeyed and called up Jazz, her hand shaking. He didn’t pick up. Melanie left a message.
“Hey Jazz… it’s me, Mel, um. I need to talk to you as soon as possible. Please call.”
Melanie turned around and saw that Brad had left. Suddenly, Melanie had a bad thought.
What about Jinx? What am I going to do with him?
Of course, now Melanie was too occupied in Townsend Acres for Jinx. But maybe he could come to Townsend Acres and she could work with him at the fantastic training facility.
Melanie made a mental note to ask Brad about that next time she saw him. She sighed when she walked out of the office building. It was so pretty, Townsend Acres. Melanie wondered where the Townsend’s got all of this money. The Oak trees lined the pathways down the pastures and the training track was absolutely gorgeous. Oak trees surrounded it on the back side and the track itself had a great landscaping job on the flowers in the center of the track. It spelt out Townsend Acres, quality Thoroughbreds for generations.
That must have been expensive. Melanie thought.
Melanie went to go visit Image. Image was grazing contently in the pasture with three other mares. Melanie recognized two of them, Townsend Lily and Townsend Mischief. Lily, the chestnut, was Libby’s dam. Libby (short for Liberty) was one of the top stallions at Townsend Acres right now. As for Mischief, Melanie always loved her. The dappled grey was very well fitted for her name.
“There you are! I’ve been looking all over for you Melanie!”
Melanie turned around only to see Brad. He continued.
“Ashleigh called and said you needed to get rid of Jinx. And she also wanted you to call back.”
“Did you tell her I was staying here?”
“No, decided to let you do that.”
“And about Jinx… I think I’m going to sell him…”
“Oh really? I’ve been looking at his lines and I could offer you something for him. Follow me.”
Melanie was happy yet sad she would be getting rid of Jinx, yet again, if Brad was buying him, he’d be on the farm.
Brad made his offer and Melanie accepted. It was a really great price for a horse like Jinx, and Melanie would still jockey him. So it was all good.
“I guess I’ve made my choice.” Melanie mumbled as the trailer containing Jinx arrived.
Chapter Two: Emily
Melanie saw exactly what was happening to her. She was betraying her life! She wasn't really allowed to live at Townsend Acres yet... was she? It wouldn't work out. She would have to live miserably at Whitebrook until she was eighteen. Melanie sighed. At least her birthday was coming up. Hopefully she'd be out of this mess soon.
Now that Ashleigh and Mike knew about her plan to leave Whitebrook, they probably wouldn't want her there at all.
I got myself into this mess, I'm gonna have to get myself out. Melanie thought to herself.
As she pulled back the covers, the phone rang.
"Hello, Melanie Graham speaking."
"Mel, it's Jazz. Listen, don't sell Jinx. I've found something that will help us and-"
"Jazz, listen, I already sold Jinx. I sold him for higher than he'd ever earn! The money is yours of course, but I still get to Jockey him."
"Melanie! I thought you would consult me first."
"But you said if I got an offer above-"
"Yes, I know, but to Brad Townsend? He has caused you trouble in the past you know Melanie."
"Yeah but look at Image! She's so much healthier and- and if she stayed at Whitebrook, I don't think she'd have lived. I really don't."
"Yeah, I guess you're right. Oh, and I know you called earlier about breeding..."
Jazz and Melanie talked about Image all night long and finally came up with the decision to find where Wonder's Legacy went. They wanted a Wonder baby. So the next day, Melanie and Jazz did their morning work then went up to New York to look for Legacy.
"We need to ask Ashleigh Mel, we are never going to find him on our own!"
"I can't face her though. I can't even talk to her; I know she's mad at me!"
"Fine. I'll call her then. What's the number?"
Melanie told Jazz the number and gazed out the window. There were horses at every corner, Kentucky was always a beautiful place and it was filled with horses everywhere. The Kentucky Oak tree's lined the fences and many horse trailers clinkered and clankered behind the cars. It was definitely horse country.
When Jazz got off the phone with Ashleigh, he had a name and an address. Melanie remembered where this was.
"JAZZ!" she screeched, "I know the person who lives here!"
It was Emily Popovich, her friend from school. Melanie was so excited to find that out. Maybe they'd let Image breed cheep. Plus, Image won the Derby. Melanie realized that they might not recognize Melanie. She'd changed over the years. She used to be the rambunctious risk taker who dyed her hair pink or blue with kool aid. But now, Melanie was much more settled and controlled. She had matured.
Melanie thought about it the rest of the way there. There was no way she would ever be recognized by Emily. I mean, Emily was probably still rambunctious, she and Melanie both used to be. Emily was probably much different than Melanie now. Melanie sighed. It just wasn’t fair. She changes the way she is so someone will like her but she changes it permanently and then she loses her old friends.
When they finally arrived at Emily’s house, they saw a girl with long straight blonde hair walking towards them. It had to be Emily or maybe…
“Hello, I’m Emily Popovich, my parents own this place. Why are you here?”
Emily had matured as well. Her long blonde hair glistened in the sun and when Melanie looked at her longer, she realized that she and Emily were still so much alike. They both were into horses and they both had their blonde hair. Melanie let her hair down as she and Jazz followed Emily to the farm house.
Melanie was too struck to talk. She was very surprised that Emily didn’t recognize her. I guess Melanie wouldn’t have recognized her either if she didn’t introduce herself.
“Emily?” Melanie asked unsure.
“Do you remember me?”
Emily looked confused. Jazz and her parents were talking away about Image and Legacy when Emily saw it. It was really Melanie.
“MEL! Is it really you?” She exclaimed.
Jazz and the Popovich’s stared then, finally, Mr. Popovich spoke up.
“Melanie Graham. How nice to see you again.” He said irritated. His face said, mess with my daughter and you die.
“You too,” she said, trying not to lose her temper. Mr. Popovich never liked Melanie.
Melanie had always been in trouble back in those days. Now, Melanie never would have tried anything against the rules. Whitebrook had changed her. Melanie realized her mistake. Whitebrook made her good. That was something Townsend Acres could never do.
Melanie swallowed hard and she and Emily went up to Emily’s room. It was just as Melanie remembered it, small and cozy. The two talked about horses for a long time. Melanie only listened for part of the time. She was almost homesick for Whitebrook.
Chapter Three: The Complication
Emily and Melanie had a great time over the weekend riding around Emily's family farm, Sarasota Stables. It was a gorgeous facility. Melanie really enjoyed it. It was a lot like Whitebrook, since it was small, and a lot like Townsend Acres too, with it's spectacular facilities and landscaping.
Melanie also grew fond of Wonder's Legacy. Legacy was one of Wonder's foals who didn't really race that great. But unlike Pride, Legacy had produced some awesome foals. Legacy's first crop are three year olds now. One is heading for the derby and others are doing well in Graded II stakes races. Then there was one who injured himself badly in the Breeder's Cup Juvinille as he came down the strech. He won by a nose but might not be able to race again. His name being Time Is Legacy.
The arrangements had been made. Wonder's Legacy would be bred to Perfect Image the next weekend. Melanie and Emily were both very excited. Legacy had produced top foals, and Image won the Derby.
Of course, Brad wasn't too happy about this decision. He though that Image would be bred to a Townsend Acres stud. Most likey, Celtic Mist. Jazz and Melanie decided that next year, they would definately breed Image to Mist. They liked the stallion, but Legacy was more important to them.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The next week, Image was shipped up to Saratoga Stables to be bred. Melanie stayed up there with Image about a week so they could make sure Perfect Image was indeed, in foal.
When they were possitively sure she was, Melanie gave them the check Jazz had handed her and she and Image were back off to Kentucky. Melanie hoped she made the right choice.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A week later, Melanie was sure she made the right choice breeding Image to Wonder's Legacy. She had just gotten a phone call from Emily saying that Legacy wasn't expected to have another crop of foals after this one. Melanie was happy that she would be getting a foal. Legacy was close to the last of Wonder's lineage.
Brad still wasn't happy and forced Melanie to work for him more and more. She was exercising 4 out of every 10 horses. It was a lot of work. Most of the horses that Melanie exercised she groomed too. She didn't have time anymore.
Meanwhile, Melanie's cousin, Christina, sat around her house with nothing to do. Star had fallen sick so she couldn't take him out, and her parents didn't need any extra help at the moment.
Melanie had an idea. She didn't hate Christina anymore. In fact, she missed Christina. She was going to propose to Brad that Christina help out. Of course, it might seem a little odd Christina going to help her parents’ biggest enemies. But Melanie did decide she needed to visit Chris.
Melanie dialed her number on the phone. No one picked up at Whitebrook. Melanie left a message.
"Hey Chris, it's me, Mel... um, I'm sorry I have been kind of a jerk lately. Hope you can call soon. I love you!"
Melanie hung up the phone feeling stupid. She felt like she had just oh, who cares. It didn't matter but she didn't feel well.
The days seemed to be getting longer and longer. Melanie couldn't take it anymore. She groomed and exercised "her" horses then took one of them on a trail ride. He was a grey colt named Determination. He was one of Melanie's favorites. He was a lot like Pirate... that's probably why.
On the trail ride she went to visit Image. She was doing well. No complications with her. Suddenly Melanie felt tears coming down. She had no idea why. She had exactly what she wanted! All of a sudden Melanie felt spoiled. She felt as if because she had everything, she was hated. Melanie got so upset she cantered Determination back to the barn and went straight to the phone. There was a message waiting. No, two messages.
She hit the button and received the first message, it was from Christina.
"Hi Melanie! So good to hear from you. Sorry, I've been a spoiled brat over the years... I promise I'll change. I hope you come back! I love you too! Call back soon!"
She deleted it and wrote down to call Chris.
The next message was from Emily. Melanie panicked. She hit the button and listened to the news.
"Mel, its Emily. I wanted to let you know we will be gelding Legacy. We have to, he's getting so hard to handle. If your aunt wants a foal have her call right away!"
Melanie was in shock. She dialed the Reese's number as fast as her fingers would let her.
"Hello, Ashleigh Griffen speaking."
"Aunt Ashleigh! Thank God!"
"Mel? What's wrong?"
"Emily is gelding him!"
"Wait... hold up? Who's Emily and who's him? Jinx?"
"No, I sold Jinx, Emily owns Wonder's Legacy and that's him!"
"Oh My Gosh..." Ashleigh whispered.
"Uh huh, well if you want a foal I suggest you-"
"Where can I reach her? I need to-"
Melanie gave her Aunt Emily's phone number. They hung up.
I wonder why she's that desperate... Melanie wondered.
Then it hit her. Aunt Ashleigh would probably offer to buy Legacy. That could save him... but then again, Whitebrook was running low on money. Maybe they would buy half interest... no, Townsend Acres owned Oh no they didn't! Not anymore. The Townsend’s sold them full interest. So that means half interest really was possible.
Melanie couldn't sleep that night; she was too busy pondering what would happen with Legacy. She hoped the outcome wouldn't be gelding. But then again, Pirate was a gelding. Pirate. Another thing Melanie had left behind.
Chapter Four: Guilt
Melanie woke up the next morning early. She was exhausted and Brad was getting to her more and more.
"MELANIE!" Brad yelled at the top of his lungs. "Oh! There you are! My top jockey! You have a ride coming up... I expect you to be working extra hard for this guy."
"Who?" Melanie asked.
Then, to her amazement, she saw a chestnut colt coming up to her. He was absolutely gorgeous. He had a little temper, but it wasn't like Image's or Jinx's... it was more like Sterling Dream's. Sterling was Christina's old event mare, however, when Star was born, Christina threw her out like an old rag and sold her to one of the girls she took with.
"This," Brad said as if he just won the lottery, "is Legacy Dancer, by Wonder's Legacy out of Street Dance."
"What are you doing with him? When did you buy him?"
"Well, let's just say I got him in a little trade... nothing big, don't worry! But I'm excited! Street Dance was born here... her dam and sire live here too... This Melanie is your chance. Your chance to become the greatest jockey since Ashleigh Griffen herself. This is your chance to shine. Beat Christina to it! Think about it Mel... think of the fame you will get!"
Melanie considered this, it all sounded great. A life on horseback. Melanie sighed. This was the life.
"Alright! What should I do with him?" Melanie asked excitedly.
"Trail. I know that you know that I think trail rides are useless, but it seemed to work with Wonder so maybe it will work with this guy."
"Ok... I guess I'll go then..."
"Oh! And Melanie, I don't want you working with any other horse but him right now. And I've assigned my new trainer to work with you... He'll be there in a moment."