All throughout the book, luck is a thread that ties the entire story together. Each character, involved in horse racing in one way or another, relies upon luck to guide their fates. Their wins and losses on the racetrack are attributed either to luck or a lack of it. Tommy Hansel feels himself blessed with good luck like a gift from heaven, and makes daring moves and purchases based on that assumption. Unfortunately, his luck does not keep through the end of the novel. His faith in his luck wins over many that cross his path, especially his girlfriend Maggie. Medicine Ed has had his share of good and bad luck through the years, and is hoping for a few more lucky bets to help him to buy a property of his own and settle down for the rest of his life. His luck is intermingled with his belief in the power of his medicine. Other characters in the novel have no respect for luck and instead take matters into their own hands, shaping the races and circumstances in their favor, using force and intimidation. Luck is seen as a powerfully addicting temptation, one that people cling to for salvation, but one that usually disappoints.
The power of regret is embodied most noticeably in the character of Two-Tie, an old horse gambler who made a lot of poor decisions in his life. Most of his regrets center on how he treated his former wife, Lillian. His poor treatment of her drove her away, and in his older years he came to regret many of his callous actions and words towards her. Two-Tie's regret motivates him to spoil Lillian's son, and then to seek out his distant niece, Maggie. Through Maggie, Two-Tie sees a chance to redeem himself from his history of poor family relationships. He takes on the role of protector for her, all the while nursing the regrets of his former days. Medicine Ed too spends a lot of time contemplating things that he could have done differently that might have led his life down a more profitable path. He regrets poor bets, the dangerous effect...
(The entire section is 826 words.)