When I was in college, I attended a sports journalism conference at Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby, where Dick Schaap, the late dean of New York sportswriters who at the time was most famous for hosting ESPN’s Sports Reporters, was one of the featured speakers. To the discomfort of our hosts but the delight of the aspiring writers, Schaap proceded to spin anecdote after anecdote about the seedy underbelly of the horse business. To him, the track had, as he put it, an alluring “scent of larceny” about it. What a great phrase. If a screenwriter had scribbled down just a fraction of Schaap’s musings, he’d have had enough material for multiple seasons of an entire television show.
I don’t recall David Milch sitting in the audience with me, but his new HBO series, Luck (video below) certainly captures the mood and characters that Schaap so vividly described. “The racetrack is a place of incomparable beauty, but it’s a rough racket,” says exec producer Milch, the voice behind HBO’s Deadwood. “As a setting for storytelling, you couldn’t ask for anything more.” READ FULL STORY