|Season 1, Episode 1|
|Air date||January 29 2012|
|Written by||David Milch|
|Directed by||Michael Mann|
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"Ace Meets with a Potential Investor"
Chester "Ace" Bernstein is released from prison after serving a three year sentence. He reconnects with his friend and driver Gus Economou. While Bernstein was in prison Economou won millions on a Las Vegas slot machine and has conspired with Bernstein to purchase a racehorse with some of the money. Bernstein is plotting revenge on the associates that he believes were responsible for his conviction and is tempting them into the purchase of the struggling Santa Anita Park racetrack in Sacramento, California. Bernstein knows that the racetrack is in financial difficulty and ripe for a buyout. He also believes that the local government will be open to an application to install a casino in the facility because it could reverse recent reductions in their tax base.
At the racetrack gamblers Lonnie, Renzo, Marcus and Jerry win $2.8 million on the pick six. Kagel, a loan shark and security guard, offers to help them conceal their identities from the government to escape tax liabilities. Trainer Turo Escalante wins $39,600 betting on his horse Mon Gateau. The horse was ridden to victory by loud mouthed new jockey Leon Micheaux. Escalante complains about Micheaux to his agent Joey Rathburn and Rathburn warns Micheaux to be more careful.
Another trainer Walter Smith is preparing a promising new prospect. His exercise rider Rosie hopes to be allowed to ride the horse when it races. Rathburn notices the horse's potential and plots to install his client Ronnie Jenkins as the rider. Micheaux's mount in a later race breaks its leg and has to be put down. Jenkins consoles Micheaux afterwards.
Chester “Ace” Bernstein is released from Victorville prison. He is met outside by his friend and driver Gus Economou. As they drive away from the prison Bernstein grips the bridge of his nose and sighs in the backseat of the car. Economou asks how he is doing. Bernstein ignores the question and says that he wants a tape recorder. Economou queries his meaning and Bernstein reasserts his desire. Economou suggests that he has a penci, offering to write down a note. Bernstein assumes that he is joking and rebukes him. Economou produces the implement and says that he has a scrap of an advertisement he could write on. Bernstein’s glare melts into a look of affection and he asks Economou about the trees he grows in his back yard. Economou smiles, says that they are good and mentions that he was considering taking the wraps of his fig trees. Bernstein asks to see Economou’s horse owners license and Economou passes the identification card back to him. Economou jokes that he was surprised that the cameraman didn’t see through him. Bernstein firmly reminds Economou that he is the true owner of the racehorse. Economou says that he understands. Bernstein rhetorically asks if Economou thinks that he is the first front in history and shakes his head.
At the Santa Anita Park racetrack horses are cared for in their stables, Jockeys watch practice rides and gamblers complete pick slips. The big screen advertises the pick six jackpot which has risen to $2,250,540. In the stables trainer Turo Escalante watches Jo, a veterinarian, examining one of his horses. She removes her stethoscope and reports that the animal has slow bowel sounds. Escalante asks her to see what is going on and she nods and lubricates a long plastic glove. She gets behind the animal and waves a gloved hand at Escalante, asking if he wishes it were him wearing the glove. He calls her crazy and then looks around at a jockey saddling one of his other horses, Mon Gateau. Escalante calls over Miguel, one of his stable hands, to hold the reigns of the horse Jo is examining and then approaches the jockey.
Escalante pulls the jockey’s stick from his back pocket and tells him that he won’t need it. The jockey, a Cajun named Leon Micheaux, defers to Escalante. Escalante instructs him to jog the horse once the wrong way around the track to loosen him up for his race in the afternoon. Micheaux says that he is excited to be riding for Escalante as Escalante helps him into the saddle. Escalante says nothing and Micheaux goes on to say that he will run big with Escalante’s horse. Escalante pauses and then asks him what he said before asking him to clarify if he meant the morning or the afternoon. Micheaux is confused by Escalante’s Spanish inflected English. Escalante tells Micheaux to follow his instructions and keep quiet about what he does not know, threatening to call his manager Joey Rathburn (Escalante uses Rathburn’s nickname “Porky Pig”). Micheaux says that he will comply and Mon Gateau is lead out of the stables.
Escalante returns to Jo. She says that she is surprised Escalante got the horse to race and he tells her that he is cannot believe where she puts her hands. She removes the soiled glove and reports that there was no pathology on internal examination. She says that her working diagnosis is gas colic and Escalante wonders if he can give the horse milk. She agrees that milk of magnesium would be helpful. She wonders if Escalante has met Economou, describing him as the limo driver and referencing his winnings in Las Vegas. Escalante suggests that Economou is being backed by a third party. Jo wonders if there is “monkey business” afoot. Escalante explains that Economou worked as Bernstein’s driver before his three-year imprisonment. Jo nods and says that it is “gorilla business”, aware of Bernstein’s reputation. She returns the topic to the horse, saying that it is entitled to a touch of colic after the long trip from Ireland. Escalante asks her to check on the horse again in the afternoon. She wonders if he has been to Ireland and he says that he has not. She jokes that he has a heavy brogue. Escalante discusses the horse in Spanish with Miguel. He then comments on the loudmouthed jockey. He tells the colicky horse that it has a plain appearance for such a valuable buy.
Another horse trainer, Walter Smith, brings a donut to a stable hand. He explains that it is frosted as the vendor warned him that their chocolate covered stock was not as fresh. He asks for a report and learns that his big horse has slept and eaten well. The hand asks if Smith is aware of the pick six and its growing jack pot. Smith is distracted wondering if he should allow his exercise rider, Rosie, to let the horse take the lead in the final quarter of its practice today. The hand is positive regarding the suggestion. Smith confirms that he explained about the donuts and then encourages the stable hand to rest before going to see his horse. He asks the horse how it is doing and feeds it from his hand. He wonders if it feels like stretching out as Rosie approaches with a saddle. She greets the horse, calling it bruiser, and then asks Smith if he wants her to take the same approach as last time. He relays his plan to let the horse open up down the stretch and she says that she is pleased to hear it because the horse has been pulling hard to go faster. Smith notes that the horse wants to run and helps his rider into the saddle. He then makes his way to the stands to watch her ride, timing the lap with a stop watch and talking to himself.
Escalante calls Rathburn to complain about the loudmouthed Cajun jockey he has sent him. Rathburn is disbelieving and apologetic. Escalante asks Rathburn to keep the jockey quiet and Rathburn assents.
Up in the stands Marcus, a wheelchair using gambler, sorts through the listings for the day and draws on oxygen from a portable tank. He is approached by his friend and fellow gambler Jerry. Jerry complains that he has no money and Marcus wonders what happened to his $390 winnings from the previous day. Jerry explains that he lost it playing poker. Marcus is annoyed at Jerry’s foolishness given the rising pick six jackpot, now in its third day of carry over. Jerry shows Marcus his picks for the day but Marcus remains frustrated, disregarding the picks, calling Jerry a degenerate and asking where his money is. Jerry warns Marcus not to get wound up and observes that his face is changing colour. Marcus profanely responds “oh, fuck my face” coughs and puts his mask to his mouth.
Smith murmurs advice to his training rider under his breath as she brings his horse around the far side of the track.
Renzo approaches Jerry and Marcus. Marcus feigns pleasure at seeing him and sarcastically calls him a brain surgeon. Renzo waves a wad of cash at them, saying that he has his $255 disability payment. Marcus clarifies that Renzo has actually borrowed the money against his expected social security benefit cheque; called a payday advance by the lenders to get around usery laws. Jerry watches Smith’s horse round a bend as Marcus shows his picks to Renzo, explaining that it is Jerry’s only contribution.
Smith’s horse breaks into a gallop in the final stretch and he excitedly times the ride. He checks his stopwatch as it finishes and says that he still knows a peach when he sees one. Jerry and Rathburn also watch the impressive finish from their positions around the track.
Renzo marvels that Jerry has chosen only a single horse in the fourth race, admitting that he had assessed the race as being a semi-spread for their syndicate. Marcus checks the listings and notes that Jerry’s pick Mon Gateau, the fifth horse in the race, is being ridden by Micheaux. Marcus denigrates Micheaux as an inexperienced jockey who has not won ten races in his whole career and notes that the horse has not won in two years. Renzo points out that Escalante is training Mon Gateau and Marcus exclaims excitedly, reaching for Jerry’s picks.
Rathburn approaches Micheaux as he trots a horse back to the stables. Micheaux relays meeting Escalante and Rathburn wonders how it went. Micheaux says that it was hard to understand Escalante. Rathburn tells him that he did “some job” and Micheaux is surprised. Rathburn clarifies that Micheaux was successful in irritating Escalante by commenting on his horse’s prospects. Micheaux explains that he was merely talking to fill the silence and Rathburn suggests the weather is a more appropriate topic in such circumstances. Micheaux admits that he was trying to impress Escalante because of his reputation as a great trainer. Rathburn points out that Escalante might want to be on his horse and warns Micheaux that Escalante would not want a bigmouthed jockey in that case. Micheaux asks if Escalante is betting and Rathburn says that he does not know. He adds that if Micheaux wants to know then he does not want to represent him. Rathburn explains that Micheaux’s job is to ride everything hard and keep his mouth shut. Micheaux whispers something about Escalante and Rathburn reminds him of what they have just discussed. Rathburn notices Smith talking to his training rider prompting him to leave a message for his star client Ronnie Jenkins. Rathburn asks Jenkins to come to the track, describing Smith’s horse as a potential derby winner and complaining about Jenkins lack of contact and drinking.
An overweight security guard named Kagle asks Marcus, Jerry and Renzo to move along. Marcus sarcastically asks if anyone is morbidly fat and if anyone ordered a heart attack. Kagle says that he would not hold his breath, and then notes that Marcus cannot. Marcus asks when Kagle last saw his genitals without using a mirror. Jerry asks Kagle if he is looking at the pick six and Kagle admits that he holds a few opinions. Kagle asks if Jerry is going to bet and then moves along. Renzo tells Marcus that there might be more development at the coffee shop. Marcus asks Renzo to clarify and Renzo persists with being mysterious, explaining that he does not want to say in case it does not happen. Marcus calls Renzo a moron. Marcus warns Jerry not to borrow money from Kagle because of his high interest rate (3% a week).
Economou and Bernstein arrive at a hotel. Bernstein gazes around wistfully and is greeted by the manager, Maurice. Bernstein jokes that if Maurice has been partying in his suite he should make sure it is cleared. Maurice counters that if he missed one or two Bernstein can send them down the fire escape before becoming serious and saying that they have been preparing all week. Maurice gestures at Economou and references his windfall. Bernstein notes the timing and Economou jokes that he only drives Bernstein for fun now. The doorman excitedly greets Bernstein and tells him that he has graduated, Bernstein deadpans that he has done the same.
Marcus, Jerry and Renzo arrive at the coffee shop. Renzo nods at a man in a yellow shirt, Lonnie, and says that he is there. Lonnie wonders why Renzo sounds surprised and Renzo says that he never guaranteed he would be there. Marcus asks Lonnie to stand back so he can manoeuvre his wheelchair to the edge of the table. Renzo introduces Lonnie, adding that Marcus has met him once before. Lonnie introduces himself to Jerry, recalling that they have also met once before. Lonnie invites Marcus to guess how he refers to him when discussing him with Renzo. Marcus suggests asshole and Lonnie reveals that he calls them the brains housing department because of their accurate picks. The waitress approaches and Jerry says that they will all have their usual. Lonnie continues to describe his respect for them and Jerry interrupts to prompt him to order. Lonnie orders eggs and bacon and Renzo backs Lonnie’s claims. Lonnie adds that Renzo has told him about their methods, describing them as genius. Marcus dejectedly says that their picks often lose. The waitress asks if Lonnie wants home fries and he declines, citing concern for his figure. Lonnie asks Renzo to relate what he always says and Renzo reports “let me once make half a score, I’ll bankroll that genius gimp.” Marcus shakes his head and hesitantly asks them to define half a score. Lonnie claims to have earned money as a gigolo and reveals a wad of cash.
Bernstein dresses in the mirror. He pulls off his tie and undoes his top button, unhappy with the fit of his shirt. Economou calls from elsewhere in the suite, wondering if Bernstein is ready. Bernstein asks how Economou left things with Escalante. Economou reports that he agreed to call when he was a few minutes away from the track. Bernstein advises Economou on his attitude with Escalante, telling him to be businesslike. Bernstein puts on his jacket and approaches a box of mail on the counter. Economou explains that it is correspondence from Bernstein’s friends and associates while he was in prison and that he has replied to all of it. Bernstein picks up a recorder from the counter; Economou has fulfilled his request. Bernstein continues with his advice regarding Escalante, instructing Economou to be assertive and furnishing him with the sample phrase “spare me the hat dance, just train my horse.”
Jerry returns to the track and approaches Kagle. Kagle senses Jerry’s urgency and wonders if Jerry would lend himself $1000 in his position. Jerry is confused and says that he is not asking for $1000. Kagle elucidates that he is operating a one policy for all system with a $1000 minimum. Jerry wonders why and complains that Kagle is his own boss. Kagle counters that he does not feel self employed given his uniform and Jerry retorts that he is self employed as a shylock. Jerry wonders if one pant size fits everyone and Kagle is irritated, believing Jerry is referencing his weight. Jerry claims that he said hat size. Kagle reasserts his conditions, $1000 minimum with 3% weekly interest, and adds that he does not want to have to chase Jerry for the interest on small loans. Jerry agrees to the offer and Kagle then says that Jerry doesn’t qualify. Jerry swears and walks away. Kagle calls him back and holds out two $50 bills, looking around nervously. Kagle asks Jerry to give him his picks in exchange and Jerry does so, demonstratively annoyed.
Marcus, Renzo and Lonnie return to the stands. Marcus says that he will explain Jerry’s picks. He draws Lonnie’s attention to the single horse in the fourth race and elucidates Jerry’s method of handicapping based on the trainer’s reputation. Marcus explains that as a syndicate they are going to purchase enough pick six tickets to cover four horses in the fifth race and six horses in the sixth race. He clarifies that by betting a single horse in the fourth race they will be in a minority of viable ticket holders if that horse wins. He says that they are protecting themselves by spreading their bets in the subsequent races. They are buying enough tickets to have a bet on every horse in the final race so that they will be guaranteed a share of the $2,000,000 plus jackpot if their picks are proven up to that stage. Marcus rounds this up by saying that it is the gist of Jerry’s thinking. Lonnie repeats his nickname for them “Brains housing”. Marcus wonders where Jerry is and predicts that he will be feeling guilty for losing his stake in poker and borrowing money from Kagle.
Bernstein enters DiRossi’s restaurant, still adjusting his clothing. He is greeted by the hostess and then warmly met by DiRossi himself, who says that they are back to full strength. DiRossi leads Bernstein back to his office and asks how he is doing. Bernstein says that he is great and noting the plush surroundings adds that DiRossi must be doing very well. DiRossi reports that his clubs are also doing well with new venues in Atlantic City, Miami and Macao.
Micheaux prepares for the upcoming race, praying to a Catholic shrine in his locker and then being weighed. He wears a green jacket with a black star to match Mon Gateau. He walks out onto the track and Rosie calls to him as he passes, wishing him success. Leon finds Escalante waiting with Mon Gateau. Escalante instructs him to keep the horse covered so she does not go too fast and when he is ready to take her wide to ensure that she does not get stopped. Rathburn watches from the sidelines as Micheaux tells Escalante that he hopes this will be the first of many races he rides for him. Rathburn urges Micheaux to keep quiet. Micheaux holds out his fist for a bump and Rathburn hangs his head. Escalante does not respond to the gesture and reiterates his advice that the horse is a strong finisher but must be kept wide.
DiRossi commiserates with Bernstein about his conviction. Bernstein says that he is pleased with the trouble people took regarding Economou. DiRossi offers his blessing to Economou. Bernstein elaborates that he wanted Economou to be showing legitimate income and paying taxes when he purchased the horse. DiRossi says that his accountants needed the exercise and says that he hopes the horse gives pleasure to Bernstein. Bernstein says that he must keep his distance from the track and DiRossi says that he understands. Bernstein adds that he needs to feel out his supervised release and determine if there is give on his leash. DiRossi brings up Bernstein’s suggestion that he invest in a racetrack. Bernstein seems surprised that DiRossi is interested. DiRossi reports that the track is in financial trouble, assuming that Bernstein already knew. Bernstein suggests that with the shrinking tax base in Sacramento the council is ripe to approve a casino. DiRossi likes the idea of having a casino on the grounds of a racetrack. Bernstein adds that the area is also ripe for development with hundreds of acres of land around the track but that he cannot get involved given his recent release. DiRossi agrees that it is too risky for Bernstein and Bernstein says that he is worried about still being an asset. DiRossi says that Bernstein is an architect and that he should take his time. Bernstein admits that he has a shorter temper and worsening memory and shows DiRossi the recorder. DiRossi is taken aback by the recording device. Bernstein asks what is wrong and clarifies that it is just a memory aide. Bernstein becomes incensed at the idea that DiRossi suspects him of being an informant and stands up, tipping over his chair. Bernstein tears his shirt open, sending buttons flying, to prove that he is not wired. DiRossi tries to placate him, calling him Basta. Bernstein wonders if DiRossi has been watching old film, insults his Itlalian origins and asserts his loyalty by referencing his 3-year prison term. DiRossi says that Bernstein’s loyalty is appreciated as Bernstein regretfully notes that he has lost the buttons from his shirt. There is a knock at the door and DiRossi instructs his driver, Jimmy, to take Bernstein back to the Beverley Hilton. Bernstein thanks DiRossi and DiRossi says that he will fly his associates in to discuss the racetrack whenever Bernstein is ready. Bernstein puts this off, referencing his high blood pressure, and DiRossi encourages him to relax. DiRossi says that Economou’s horse ownership is an opportunity to get an inside view of the track. Bernstein says that he has shrunk and needs new shirts.
Back at the track Escalante sits in the stands. Jerry has rejoined the rest of the syndicate. Rathburn waves to an associate. The horses are led into the starting gate. Marceaux and Mon Gateau take their position in the fifth bay. The gate opens as Marceaux calls for more time. Escalante comments on his performance in Spanish. Renzo asks Jerry for commentary and Marcus tells him to keep quiet. Marceaux is trapped against the rail by another rider. Escalante notes the jockey’s failure to follow his advice. Marceaux calls for his colleague to let him wide and the other rider refuses. Rathburn urges his rider on. Mon Gateau’s pace increases as an opening on the inside presents itself. Jerry calls for the horse to take it. Marceaux guides the horse through the gap to victory. Rosie and another jockey are impressed by Leon’s performance. Escalante is pleased with Mon Gateau’s performance.
The announcer reports the win as the track manager enters. A screen reports that the pick six pool has reached $2,859,540. The manager suggests a headline “multimillion dollar pick six payout distracts gamblers from track’s insolvency.” This amuses the announcer who then directs the manager’s attention to the victorious Escalante.
Leon brings Mon Gateau next to the trainer and begins a greeting. Escalante interrupts and chides Leon for failing to follow his instructions. A reporter from HRTV asks for Escalante’s reaction and he feigns surprise. Escalante walks away and Leon shares a high five with the jockey who refused to let him wide earlier.
Jerry, Lonnie, Renzo and Marcus come inside. Lonnie says that he is on a roll and asks Renzo if he has told the others how he got his stake. Marcus points out that Lonnie has told them and Lonnie wonders if they want to hear it again. Marcus defers and Jerry quietly admits that he sold his picks to Kagle. Marcus is annoyed that Jerry has given Kagle the chance to share in the jackpot. Jerry claims that Kagle gave him $50 and that he accepted in order to pull his weight in the syndicate as he hands the money to Marcus. Marcus asks if Jerry knows that Kagle bought the ticket but is afraid to admit it and Jerry says that he does not know for sure. Lonnie and Renzo watch as the number six horse wins the fifth race – another of their picks.
Escalante goes to a betting machine and claims his winnings; two tickets with $13200 and $26400. Escalante takes a call from Economou, who has arrived at the track. Escalante shows Economou into his stables and explains the problem with his horse’s lack of bowel movements. Escalante says that the horse appears otherwise well and checks with Miguel that the situation has not changed. Economou wonders when they will race and Escalante says the horse will tell them when they are ready. Escalante shows Economou over to Mon Gateau and tells Economou about the horse’s recent win. Economou says that he wished he had known and Escalante claims that he was just as unaware of the horse’s potential. Economou notices a goat in the stable. Escalante gives Economou a carrot to feed to the horse but Economou is worried about somehow upsetting the animal. Escalante dismisses his fears as unfounded. Economou enjoys the sensation and Escalante suspects that he is acting. Economou says that it really was his first time and Escalante says he will call him “El Naturale”. Economou delivers Bernstein’s prepared admonition “spare me the hat dance”. Escalante agrees not to hold Economou's hand. Miguel emerges from Economou’s horses stable with a shovel full of excrement. Escalante claps and tells Economou that he can inform “whoever would care” that the horse is out of the woods.
Rathburn enters Smith’s barn (number 19), leaving another message for Jenkins about Smith’s horse. Rathburn finds Smith sat outside with the horse, while it grazes. Rathburn eavesdrops as Smith tells the horse that it is special because of its lineage. Smith goes onto recite his regrets about the shooting of the horse’s father.
Jerry cheets as the number 7 horse wins the 7th race, another of his picks. Marcus glances at the napkin to check. Lonnie questions which horse they are rooting for. Renzo announces that they are going to win the pick six because they have a ticket for each horse in the final race. Kagel approaches and offers them the opportunity to use a go-between to accept their winnings to avoid the IRS becoming aware of their identities for a fee. Marcus realises that Kagel did not bet. Kagel admits that he thought the picks were wrong, particularly backing Escalante’s horse in the fourth race, and says that he did not want to waste $864 buying the required number of tickets. Marcus crows about their victory. Kagel observes that Marcus cannot resist humiliating him. Jerry says that no-one is trying to humiliate him and Kagel asks Jerry to tell that to whoever put him in his overweight body. Marcus jokes that it was someone called Ronald McDonald. The screen displays the possible payouts (based on the number of betters who will share the jackpot) for each horse in the final race winning. The sixth and eighth horses are reported as being the maximum winners. Lonnie notes that lowest payout is $48,840 and Renzo says there would be nothing wrong with that. Marcus jokes that he would prefer the full 2.7 million as it would be less of an adjustment.
Marceaux rides out in a different uniform on a different horse, Tattered Flag. Rosie’s friend Lizzie tells her that Smith will not let her ride his horse. Rosie says that she plans to ask anyway and complains that she could stop trying to make weight if he would tell her now. Marceaux asks if the steward’s aide guiding him is familiar with the horse he is riding and finds that he is not. Marceaux observes that the horse is tight on her back legs and tries to loosen her up. Tattered Flag is led into the eighth bay of the starting block; she is one of the two pick six long shots in the ninth race. The gates open and Marceaux makes a strong start. Jenkins finally arrives at the track and Rathburn complains that he smells of marijuana and alcohol. Lonnie wonders which horse they are rooting for and Jerry tells him that it is the longshot. Jenkins asks Rathburn if he got him onto Smith’s horse. Rathburn reveals that the horse was sired by Delphi and says that he held off given Jenkins’ current state. Jenkins wonders who is going to ride him and Jenkins says that it is an exercise girl. Marceaux progresses through the field and Jerry realises he was the jocky that won them the fourth race. Renzo adds that Tattered Flag is one of the longshots. Rosie and Lizzie cheer Marceaux as he passes. Jenkins murmurs advice to the younger jockey. Tattered Flag breaks her leg on the final bend of the race. Leon manages to bring her to a stop and dismount safely, talking to the horse to try to calm her.
With Tattered Flag out of the race the syndicate note that the number 2 horse is the remaining long shot. Lonnie and Renzo are confused when Jerry says that the chalk is drifting out. Jerry and Marcus watch in awe as the number 2 horse takes the lead. Lonnie asks what is happening and Jerry says that they have won. Lonnie jumps up and down calling that he is the champion of the world. Renzo backs away, mouth agape. Marcus runs down their winnings. Jerry asks Marcus to humour him and Marcus shows him the winning ticket. Jerry sings under his breath as he gazes at the screen. In the office the track manager takes a call from his boss, saying that the tellers have been alerted to the win.
Marceaux continues to calm Tattered Flag as a vet gives her a lethal injection, ending her pain. A screen is set up to shield them from the crowd. Marceaux walks back to the dressing room. Rosie is speechless as he passes her. Jenkins steps in line with him. Marceaux tells him that Tattered Flag was moving well or he would not have asked for more from her. Jenkins agrees and says that he was watching. Rathburn trails behind them. Marceaux asks Jenkins if anything similar has happened to him, explaining that he means watching the light go out of a horses eyes. Jenkins says that you never get used to it and that it is why they make Jim Bean whiskey. Rathburn tells Marceaux to get dressed and after he has gone chastises Jenkins for dragging Marceaux down. Jenkins simply says that Rathburn has not been there.
Smith and his stable hand discus their big horses training lap. Smith says that the horse is a good one.
The track manager gives a television interview about the pick six win. The syndicate emerge from the track behind him. Renzo details his plans for his share including sending money to his imprisoned brother and to his aunt. Renzo wonders if they should admit that they are the winners and Marcus says they will wait until tomorrow. Lonnie suggests that they stay in a motel with connecting rooms so they can both party and keep an eye on one another.
Bernstein sits in bed remembering his past. He says that he was responsible for building an organized crime empire from the ground up, having learned from his predecessors who had plenty of blood on their hands. Economou calls through to ask if he wants anything and Bernstein instructs him to check the thermostat. Bernstein asks about Economou's visit to the track and learns that their horse has opened its bowels. Economou avoids commenting on the horses condition given his inexperience so Bernstein asks if Escalante was satisfied. Economou confirms that he was. Bernstein notes that the guards at Victorville prison could by themselves Cadillacs with the money he paid them to allow him to view race tapes of the horse. Bernstein says that the horse is all heart. Economou observes that there were other animals in the stable and Bernstein says that is not unusual. Economou says he saw a goat with huge testicles and Bernstein says he hopes the animal was bow legged. Economou confirms that it was and wonders how Bernstein knew. Bernstein says that it would need to be to be able to walk around. Bernstein recalls following Escalante’s career from its humble beginnings. Economou says that Escalante is like Bernstein in that regard. Bernstein checks the clock and says that he is falling asleep although it is only 7:45 p.m. Economou excuses Bernstein, saying that he has had a busy day. Bernstein nods and changes the subject to his betrayers, saying that they are going to move on the racetrack and that Economou is their new favourite Greek. Economou says that he is nervous about Bernstein relying on him when he is out of his depth. Bernstein replies that Economou does not know his own depth. Bernstein says that he should get a girlfriend and see if they reach out. Economou wonders if they should use someone they trust or someone they don’t. Bernstein counters that he trusts no-one, not even himself, but gives Economou a pass. The two friends share a smile.
- Chester "Ace" Bernstein - an organized crime mastermind who is freshly released from a prison sentence.
- Gus Economou - an old friend and driver to Ace.
- Turo Escalante - a paranoid horse trainer and gambler.
- Joey Rathburn - a Jockey's agent.
- Marcus - a wheelchair using, oxygen dependent rail bird.
- Lonnie - sometime gigolo and fledgling gambler.
- Renzo - a disabled gambler.
- Jerry - an excellent race handicapper and gambling addict.
- Rosie - a training rider.
- Ronnie Jenkins - a veteran jockey with substance abuse problems.
- Leon Micheaux - a bug (new jockey)
- Jo - a veterinarian.
- Walter Smith - an embittered horse trainer.
- DiRossi - an organized crime figure and associate of Ace.
- Maurice - the manager of the hotel where Ace lives.
- Kagel - a track security guard, loanshark and bookie.
- Lizzie - a jockey and friend to Rosie.
- Dustin Hoffman as Chester "Ace" Bernstein
- Dennis Farina as Gus Economou
- John Ortiz as Turo Escalante
- Richard Kind as Joey Rathburn
- Kevin Dunn as Marcus
- Ian Hart as Lonnie
- Ritchie Coster as Renzo
- Jason Gedrick as Jerry
- Kerry Condon as Rosie
- Gary Stevens as Ronnie Jenkins
- Tom Payne as Leon Micheaux
- Jill Hennessy as Jo
- Nick Nolte as Walter Smith
- Peter Appel as Kagel
- Don Harvey as Track Manager
- Bill Plaschke as Track Announcer
- Martin Pedroza as Jockey
- Mario Roccuzzo as Smith's stable hand
- Chantal Sutherland as Lizzie
- Tony Curran as Steward's Assistant
- Jeanne Chinn as Waitress
- Unknown as Track Veterinarian who puts down Tattered Flag
- Unknown as Reporter
- Unknown as DiRossi's hostess
- Unknown as Jimmy
The pilot garnered a total of 1.14 million viewers on its preview airing on December 11 2011 with a 0.36 ratings share among adults 18-49.
The premiere on January 29 2012 drew 1.04 million viewers. HBO announced the renewal of the series for a second season two days later on January 31 2012 reporting that the series had garnered 3.3 million viewers between the two airings and the on demand service they offer.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Kondoloy, Amanda (March 11, 2012). Sunday Cable Ratings: 'The Walking Dead' Dominates, 'Oprah's Next Chapter' Sees Series High. TV by the Numbers.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Seidman, Robert (December 12, 2011). Friday Cable Ratings: 'Gold Rush' Wins Again + 'Smackdown,' 'Sanctuary,' 'For Better or Worse' & More. TV by the Numbers.