Frankel and Kelso at the Track

Submitted into Contest #194 in response to: Write a story inspired by the phrase “I’ll eat my hat.”... view prompt


Funny Friendship Fantasy

“Why did you tell him you’d eat your hat?”

“Those were the terms. Joseph Macabee comes in less than third, and I eat my hat.”

“But it’s such a nice hat, Frankel.”

“I know, Kelso, but those were the terms. You know how these guys are.”

“A horse only ever owns two or three nice hats in his life.”

“I got at least six good hats back at the stable.”

“I’ve never seen six good hats in your stall.”

“Well, you shouldn’t be looking around my stall anyway. Mind your business.”

“I’m not trying to look around. I just notice how it looks when I come to pick you up in the morning.”

“And to eat all my hay.”

“Listen, Frank, if I’m not welcome at your stall--”

“Did I say you weren’t welcome at my stall? No. I just told you to mind your business.”

“You must be worried about this bet. You only get testy like this when you’re worried about the bet.”

“I’m not worried about the bet. Joseph Macabee never fails to show up. He’ll place first. Second at worst. If he doesn’t, I’ll eat my hat.”

“Didn’t Joseph just have knee surgery?”

“Where’d you hear that from?”

“I heard that his wife was at the drugstore the other day and she was telling people that he had to have knee surgery from an old college football accident.”

“That can’t be true.”

“That’s what somebody told me.”

“Why would he be racing today if he just had knee surgery?”

“Listen, he and Mary Sue just bought that big house out on Narrow Drive. That mortgage isn’t going to pay itself. If Joseph doesn’t run--”

“So he’s going to lose, is what you’re telling me?”

“I’m telling you that maybe you need to get out of this bet.”

“It’s too late for that, Kelso! The ink’s dry.”

“Make another bet then. To make up for the one you’re not going to win.”

“It won’t matter. I still have to eat my hat.”

“It’s such a big hat too.”

“I know. I forgot to put on the smaller one when I went to meet the bookie.”

“What is that--a top hat?”

“It’s just a very tall hat.”

“Isn’t that what a top hat is?”

“I don’t know what a top hat is. Do I look like a haberdasher to you?”

“Okay, calm down, Frankel.”

“Don’t tell me to calm down. I’m going to be down my only good hat.”

“You said you have six good hats back at the--”

“Those are all garbage. Garbage hats. I wouldn’t let a cow wear them.”

“What about the one I have on today?”

“What about it?”

“Do you think you could eat it?”

“Kelso, why would I want to eat your hat?”

“We could switch. You could wear this hat and I’ll wear your hat and when Joseph Macabee loses because of his bum knee, you won’t be eating your one good hat.”

“But I’ll be eating your hat.”

“I have other hats.”

“Now, come on--”

“Frankel, I’m telling you, I have three other good hats back at my stall. I can afford to lose this one.”

“But what if you lose your bet?”


“You placed a bet, didn’t you?”

“Yeah, but I’m not going to lose mine.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I bet on Alan Davidson.”

“You did not.”

“I did.”

“Kelso, Alan Davidson has lost every race he’s ever run in. He’s come in dead last ninety percent of the time. Alan Davidson might be the worst person any horse could ever place a bet on.”

“Keep your voice down, Frankel.”

“How could you bet on somebody like that? You’re not just going to be eating your hat. You’re going to be eating every hat in the barn.”

“I’m not going to be eating any hats, because I have insider information on Alan Davidson.”

“What kind of insider information?”

“Can you keep a secret?”


“He’s been doing the Wilcox Diet.”


“Three weeks in. Last practice run at the track near his house he nearly set the ground on fire.”

“Nobody’s supposed to be doing that diet.”

“I know.”

“It’s been banned in six countries.”

“I know.”

“Alan Davidson could be disqualified.”

“If they find out, but they’re not going to find out.”

“If he shows up and all of a sudden, he’s setting that track on fire--”

“He’s going to tell them he’s been training.”

“Training doesn’t take you from last place to first.”

“Everybody loves an underdog.”

“There’s going to be an investigation. I guarantee it.”

“It won’t matter. I’m only betting on him this once. I take my winnings, I go buy a few more hats--including one to replace the one on my head that you’re going to eat, and I hang it all up.”

“What do you mean ‘hang it all up?’ You’re not betting anymore?”

“Too stressful, Frankel. I promised Bluebell I’d give it a rest.”

“But we come down here every Saturday.”

“I know.”

“We watch the races.”

“I know.”

“We’ve been doing it for years.”

“I can still come watch. I just can’t bet.”

“What’s the fun if you can’t bet?”

“Well, for one thing, if you don’t bet, you can always keep your hat.”

“No hat can compare to the feeling you get when you see the human being you bet on crossing the finish line.”

“How often does that happen, Frankel? In all the years we’ve been coming here, how many times have we managed to bet on winners? Real winners? Four times? Five?”

“But we do okay. Sometimes our guys place okay.”

“Yeah, usually we’re okay. But what’s ‘okay?’ You can’t live off ‘okay,’ can you? Not forever, you can’t.”

“But remember when we both picked Stephen Michael Zamora to win, Kelso?”

“That was a great day.”

“Best day of my life seeing Zamora cross the finish line when everybody said he didn’t have a prayer.”

“I whinnied so loud they probably heard me in Fresno.”

“We watched a lot of horses eat their hats that day, didn’t we?”

“We sure did.”

“Best day of my life.”

“Splurging on apples to celebrate.”

“Even got our photos taken with Stephen Michael Zamora down on the track.”

“That wreath around his neck.”

“Poor guy was practically falling to his knees with that thing on top of him.”

“They need to make those wreaths smaller.”

“They really do. It’d be one thing if they were putting them on horses, but--”

“Too big for humans.”

“Still. What a great day.”

“We’ll have other great days.”

“Yeah, I guess we could.”

“First we gotta go root for Alan Davidson.”

“And watch Joseph Macabee limp his way to the finish line.”

“Just another day at the races, right Frankel?”

“I guess so, Kelso. I guess so.”

April 14, 2023 20:21

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Susan Catucci
21:17 Apr 22, 2023

A horses' tale! I was in from the first line, Kevin. The visuals were so much fun and the banter hysterical. I got a look from my husband because I grinned throughout the entire thing with an occasional nicker - er, snicker. Fun and smart and I had a great time reading. love your stuff, period.


Story Time
17:09 Apr 24, 2023

Thank you, Susan!


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Zack Powell
18:30 Apr 22, 2023

I loved this story, Kevin. So fun, so whimsical. You've got a really good recipe for writing engaging, humorous stories: take something normal from our world and twist it around or invert it. Horses at the racetrack betting on humans? Yeah, I'm on board. Fantastic dialogue throughout (but hey, I'd expect nothing less from a playwright). I particularly enjoyed the Friendship aspect of the story. The prospect of a friend saving you from the punishment of a bad bet by offering their smaller-sized hat is heartwarming. Friends don't let their fr...


Story Time
20:56 Apr 22, 2023

Thank you so much, Zack. I've been trying to use this site and the contests as an exercise in free-writing almost, because when I work on plays I'm so methodical. They sit in my head for a year before I actually start writing, and that's not great for the creative process (mine anyway) so I made a commitment to looking at the prompts each week, letting one hit me, and then running with it regardless of how sure I felt that it would lead somewhere interesting.


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Michał Przywara
20:41 Apr 20, 2023

That's a fun story :) Bit of a flip of roles at the races, and I appreciate a very literal take on the idiom. In the following section, it seems like the speakers switch, due to "Everybody loves an underdog."/"You never know.": Kelso: “He’s going to tell them he’s been training.” Frankel: “Training doesn’t take you from last place to first.” Kelso: “Everybody loves an underdog.” Frankel agreeing?: “You never know.” Kelso losing faith?: “There’s going to be an investigation. I guarantee it.” Frankel is now betting on him?: “It won’t m...


Story Time
16:04 Apr 21, 2023

Thank you, Michal! I think I slipped an extra line in there where it didn't belong. Appreciate your keen eye.


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Mary Bendickson
22:21 Apr 17, 2023

So funny that all the bets hinged on eating of the hat. At first I thought 'well, Kelso didn't bet his hat so wouldn't have to eat the one on his head.' But no. Guess that is all a horse would have to bet. They need to stock up on straw hats. My bet is great use of prompt.


Story Time
22:58 Apr 17, 2023

Thank you so much, Mary.


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Lily Finch
15:15 Apr 15, 2023

Kevin, this is brilliantly written. Horses eating their hats because they make a poor bet is funny since, in this case, they are the prevalent members of society, and humans are the entertainment. Much like other great writers writing from an animal perspective, readers become so invested that readers forget they are reading about animals and believe the characters are human. Well done. The irony of horses going to watch the human races is absurdly hilarious. Totally ironic and excellently executed. The first bloody rumour that circul...


Story Time
18:44 Apr 15, 2023

Thank you so much, Lily!


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Graham Kinross
04:53 Jul 09, 2023

If the humans get injured, do the horses put them down with a shotgun? Have you been watching Bojack Horseman? I am slightly disappointed there wasn’t a scene of one of them eating a hat.


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- Lavendosaii -
19:38 May 31, 2023

This is what all writing should be like!! I love this story!


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