Kentucky Derby weekend was upon them before Mike realized it, and he spent his four days off in a constant stream
of tears. Should he watch the race on TV or not? Papenfus was a contender. Mike felt incredibly
I have a greater crown now, he heard Betsy say within. He was somewhat consoled. He had been feeling
cheated for her sake, but her voice reassured him that such was not the case.
He and Cap--who was spending part of his bereavement leave with Mike--would sometimes be caught up in a spontaneous,
tearful hug. With the Triple Crown approaching, they'd been wearing their emotions on their sleeves.
Cap hadn't been able to go back to his own house. Chet and Marco had seen the place, and reported that it had been
riddled with bullet holes. They did what they could to secure the property. Both Mike and Dr. Brackett had extended
invitations for Cap to stay at their places. He gratefully accepted, and was staying with Mike first.
Cap was presently out grocery shopping. From the den door, Mike surveyed his house. So much like
the dream--same basic structure, similar circumstances--yet so different--no marriage, no spectacular racing career.
He sat on the step and cried. He felt more like someone's mouse running around a labyrinth anymore. The phone
rang, and he answered it in the den. Elizabeth.
"They caught the conspirators!" she exclaimed.
Mike was taken aback. "What?"
"The cops caught those who. . ."
"That's what I thought you said. Who was it?" He was halfway expecting to hear that it was the Mafia.
"Someone overheard one of the jocks say something about it, so the police sent in someone undercover, disguised
as a trainer."
"He was asking about Betsy, and this guy jock let loose some profanity, and proudly stated that they had gotten rid
of the . . .well, you know."
Mike felt the blood leave his head. Next thing he knew, he was waking up on the floor. He could hear Elizabeth
calling his name through the phone. He reached for it.
"Yeah, I'm here," he said.
"By O'Flannigan's beard, Mike! What happened?"
"I think I fainted," he said, rubbing the back of his head with his free hand.
"Yeah, I think I'll be okay. The ground caught me. Now, where were we? The police sent in a so-called
trainer, and then what happened?"
"The jock was dumb enough to spill the beans to him. . ."
"The jock was dumb enough to get involved," interjected Mike. "But, that's beside the point. Go on. . ."
"Mrs. Papenfus was overly jealous of her husband's admiration for Betsy's riding ability, then Geoff came on the scene,
ranting and raging about how Betsy had dumped him, and they struck up a friendship--if you can call it that."
"I call it a conspiracy myself. But how did the other jocks get involved?"
"They were starving and needed the money. This is all quite embarrassing to the sport, and everyone in racing is
like a huge family, and everyone's upset about it, especially at Derby time."
Never mind about that, thought Mike. "Why would Mrs. Papenfus even care?"
"Trainers' wives can be very jealous of the women who work for their husbands. Use to be, it was only men on the
backstretch, you were never late, and you never had a girlfriend."
"Oh, good grief," he moaned. "What about the other horses' trainers?"
"She was registered as the owner, and Mr. Papenfus, the trainer, of the other two horses--the ones who were held
back. The other entries just didn't have a chance. One didn't even finish the race, he was so badly
Mike then remembered that he hadn't viewed the entire tape of the race. "How'd they manage the colors on
something like that?" he asked.
"Mrs. Papenfus' two horses were the entry--1 and 1A. Mr. Papenfus' horse, with whom Betsy won, was the 2 horse.
Mrs. Papenfus had her own colors. And, by the way, Papenfus is a Derby contender," she continued, the words getting
caught in her throat. "Mr. Papenfus sold him and left the sport. I guess he regrets doing that now.
He refuses interviews. I think his attorney told him to do so."
"Is there any chance she was shot because she did have a Triple Crown contender?" asked Mike.
"That thought had crossed my mind, but Bobby said there was no evidence of it."
"Who bought the horse?"
"Josiah Hague. He's a volunteer firefighter in the Lexington area. His colors are rather unique, too.
They're white with a blue maltese cross, with white sleeves, but where the sleeves join the jacket, it's blue for an inch
on each side of the seam."
"Why blue and white?"
"The University of Kentucky. Betsy found out that a lot of guy owners make their silks the color of their favorite
ball team. Are you going to watch the race?"
"I haven't decided. If Papenfus wins, I don't know how I'll react."
"Come to think of it, neither do I. I'll tell you what, though. If he does win, we'll be happy for the owner."
"I'll work on that. With all due respect, I'm seeing it from another perspective."
"I understand, Mike," she said softly. "Believe me, I understand. Chief's been going through a lot of the
same. Have you heard from Betsy lately?"
"Funny you should ask. I was upset about the Triple Crown today, and I heard her say within that she
had a greater crown now."
"Oh, my dear daughter! Always the consoler. If any of us came in upset from work, even when she was just
a little thing, she would say something to console us."
Her loss bit all the harder for Mike. "I could've used that, too."
"I'm sorry. I'm not hitting on all cylanders today."
No sooner had Mike and Elizabeth hung up did Cap come bursting through the front door. "THEY GOT THEM!" he yelled,
arms wide open.