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The year is 1864 and twelve-year-old Gabriel, a recently freed slave, is making a name for himself throughout the state of Kentucky. With his competitive spirit and natural talent for racing horses, Gabriel is burning up the horse track--and stacking up wins for his former master, Mister Giles. When Mister Giles asks him to ride Aristo, a powerful but unpredictable horse, in the prestigious Saratoga Chase, Gabriel jumps at the chance to compete against some of the greatest jockeys in the business. But as soon as he begins the journey to Saratoga with Aristo by boxcar, he finds that high-stakes horse racing can be a nasty business. Gabriel also learns the difficult lesson that being freed is not the same as being free. Now Gabriel has more on his mind than winning the race. He must keep Master Giles's horse safe and fend off trouble from horse poachers and jealous jockeys. More than ever, Gabriel misses his father, who fighting with the Union Army. Who else can he trust?