February 27th, 2012
03:13 PM ET
While Nick Nolte was attending the Oscars last night, in which he was nominated for best supporting actor, his character on the fifth episode of HBO’s “Luck” was noticeably absent.
Walter Smith and his successful horse Gettin’ Up Morning had the episode off, which left the spotlight for Dustin Hoffman’s Ace Bernstein – as well as a meatier role to his companion/bodyguard, Gus Demitriou (played by Dennis Farina).
Gus and Ace head down to the track to visit with the trainer, Turo Escalante, of Gus's horse.
Ace wants to find out whether Escalante is “a gambler or a trainer,” and urges him to put the best jockey on their horse, Pint O’ Plain, in the upcoming race. While Ace handles most of the business, Gus leaves Escalante with a broadcast-network-appropriate, “Hey, don’t be a jerk.”
We learn more about the health of Marcus, the wheelchair-bound semi-leader of the Four Stooges. “My problem isn’t compliance, my problem is I’m about to die,” he tells his doctor. However, the diagnosis isn’t as bad. He has anywhere from five to 15 years to live, as long as he cuts down on extra stress. Well, good luck with that.
Another of the Santa Anita racetrack regulars experiencing extra stress is jockey agent Joey Rathburn. Ronnie, his injured veteran, leaves him for another agent, and his young star Leon is bumped from riding Pint O’ Plain. Joey’s increasingly frantic calls to his ex-wife only exacerbate matters.
Joan Allen’s character, Claire, is back, and the do-gooder paired with Dustin Hoffman’s ex-con role Ace provides an interesting contrast. (Also of contrast is the enormous height differential [4.5 inches according to IMDB.com, but likely much more].)
Regardless, there 's still a sexual tension attached to the pair. “You can call me Ace or Chester,” says Bernstein, to which Claire responds, “Good luck, Chester" – making her the only character to avoid the more gangster nickname.
His $367,000 check to Claire and her charity (367 is Ace’s lucky number) leads to what is likely the beginning of a budding partnership – but one which is surely headed for bumps along the way.
Our Four Stooges (my nickname, they actually go by the name Foray Stables – as we found out by their matching shirts) return to the track to watch the big race, as Pint O’ Plain takes the win, despite sustaining an injury from a horseshoe flying through the air.
After his victory, Ace sticks around the track and takes a rest inside the stable. While Nolte’s Walter Smith character was off this week, Ace sleeping next to his pride and joy leaves a very similar lasting image to that of Walter, albeit with a more expensive wardrobe.
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