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Off-Track Blessing

Published: October 22, 2009

One day while playing the ponies at the track and all but losing his shirt, Mitch noticed a priest who stepped out onto the track and blessed the forehead of one of the horses lining up for the fourth race. Lo and behold, that horse — a very long shot — won the race.

Before the next race, as the horses began lining up, Mitch watched with interest as the old priest stepped onto the track. Sure enough, as the fifth-race horses came to the starting gate, the priest made a blessing on the forehead of one of the horses. Mitch made a beeline for a betting
window and placed a small bet on the horse. Again, even though it was another long shot, the horse the priest had blessed won the race.

Mitch collected his winnings and anxiously waited to see which horse the priest would bless for the sixth race. The priest again blessed a horse. Mitch bet big on it and won. Mitch was elated. As the races continued, the priest kept blessing long-shot horses, and each one ended up coming in first.

By and by, Mitch was pulling in some serious money. By the last race, he knew his wildest dreams were going to come true. He made a quick dash to the ATM, withdrew all his savings, and awaited the priest’s blessing that would tell him which horse to bet on.

True to form, the priest stepped onto the track for the last race and blessed the forehead of an old nag — the longest shot of the day. Mitch also observed the priest even blessing the eyes, ears, and hooves of the old nag.

Certain that he had a winner, Mitch bet every cent he owned on the old nag. He then watched, dumbfounded, as the old nag came in dead last. Mitch, in a state of shock, made his way down to the track area where the priest was. Confronting the old priest, he demanded, “Father! What happened? All day long you blessed horses, and they all won. Then in the last race, the horse you blessed lost by a Kentucky mile. Now, thanks to you, I’ve lost every cent of my savings — all of it!”

The priest nodded wisely and with sympathy. “Son,” he said, “that’s the problem with you Protestants. You can’t tell the difference between a simple blessing and last rites.”

—Thomas Stockton

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