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A Halloween Race

by Paul McFarland

In the very last race at Union Fair
    Back in nineteen sixty-three,
A horse named Phantom was entered to run
    And was driven by Ned McKee.

He nosed the gate at slot number eight,
    And when that race had begun,
The odds that showed on the old tote board
    Had put him at fifty to one.

Three favorites broke when the gate pulled away,
    And when things had all sorted out,
The bettors with long shots were crowding the fence
    As the favorites all scampered about.

Then Phantom went wide on the very first turn,
    And Ned took him down to the rail.
With a burst of speed and a wide open track,
    Down the backstretch Phantom set sail.


At the half mile post with a ten length lead,
    It looked like the race had been won,
But he’d gone out fast and the old tired horse
    Was finding it quite hard to run.


When he finally made the homestretch turn,
    The field was closing up fast.
But the valiant steed would not give in.
    Too often he’d finished dead last.


It didn’t look good for that worn out horse.
    He really had started to tire.
And though fading fast, he held his own
    And won by a nose at the wire.


That hard run race was his only win,
    But his heart at the finish line burst.
So he paid the price for his gallant effort,
    For today he had finished dead first.


And when he went down in a big tangled mess,
    The horses that he had held back,
They ran over Phantom and old Ned McKee,
    And they both died right there on the track.

Now if you are out on a Halloween night
    And driving on route seventeen,
If you look real close as you go by the fairground,
    You’ll notice a real spooky scene.


And if you pull over and walk through the field,
    And then find a good hiding place,
You’ll see ghostly horses with sulkies and drivers
    Awaiting a Halloween race.


There’s four jack-o-lanterns that sit on the turns
    That give off a mystical light.
And there in the grandstand you’ll see ghouls and goblins
    Just whooping it up on that night.


Now you’ll see a race with the horses who’ve died
    At the old country fairs in this state.
And you’ll see Ned McKee with his whip in his silks
    As he noses that old starting gate.


The grandstand is teeming with zombies and demons
    Who’ve slipped from their graves for the fun.
They’ve all placed their bets on the longshots and favorites,
    And Phantom is fifty to one.


As they round the track, you’ll see some of them falter
    And crash at the places they died.
There’s only a few that will get to the homestretch
    To finish this nightmarish ride.


And then at the wire there’s one horse remaining.
    He’s left all the others behind.
Then Phantom goes down, but once more he has won
    As he dies again crossing that line.


Now if you’re a race fan and might have a yearning
    To see something few fans have seen,
Then hide in the woods at the race track in Union
    At midnight on some Halloween.

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