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'Luck' writer John Perrotta gives his favorite racetrack characters new life online

John Perrotta was a racetrack lifer when he got the call from David Milch in 2008 to come to California to join the writing staff for Luck. He’d represented jockeys and managed the stables owned by billionaire breeders for decades, so he was the perfect person to bring authenticity to the gritty drama that starred Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte. His Luck cohort Bill Barich recently wrote in an essay for Narrative Magazine that Milch liked to say that Perrotta “knows where the bodies are buried,” but that’s just a Milch-ian way of saying that his pal knows everything there is to know about the sport of thoroughbred racing, from the barns to the jockey club to the luxury boxes. And while Luck‘s demise was ugly, with HBO pulling the plug after one low-rated season and a cloud of bad publicity surrounding the deaths of three horses, Perrotta and the show’s small but dedicated following still aren’t ready to say goodbye to the colorful collection of characters that roamed Santa Anita for just nine episodes.

Last week, Perrotta posted “Out of Luck … Buy Low, Sell High” on America’s Best Racing website, resurrecting the show’s characters and picking up their stories several months after the season 1 finale. Ace’s prize pony ran in the Kentucky Derby; Walter Smith kept his colt out of the big race, perhaps to steer clear of harsh questions into his mysterious past; and Jerry headed to Las Vegas to compete in the World Series of Poker. Perrotta calls it fan-fiction, nothing more, but for followers of the show and people who saw something poetic in the lives of the people and horses that collide at the track, it’s both exciting and bittersweet to meet these characters again.

Perrotta, who’s now the agent for Hall of Fame jockey and Luck star Gary Stevens, spoke to Entertainment Weekly about his plans for his blog — a second “episode” debuts later today — and how he’s still mourning Luck‘s cancellation.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Reading your first blog post — your first episode, I should say — I realized how much I missed these characters, especially those Degenerate gambles. Was it cathartic to revisit them, after what happened with the show, or painful?
JOHN PERROTTA: I loved them all so much, and they are real people to me. The jockey agent and the jockeys and the Degenerate gamblers were all people that I’ve lived most of my life with. The trainers, especially. I’ve known those guys. I was surprised at the reaction [the blog post] got, but in retrospect I’m not surprised now because as the characters are real to me, then when you read more about them, you don’t need to see it. You can imagine it. So when I talk about Goose or Marcus and those guys, you can put a face on them. READ FULL STORY

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