Escalante has humble origins and is a self made horse trainer. He once worked as a fruit and vegetable salesman outside the track. He is employed by millionaire Gus Economou to train his new horse Pint of Plain but is aware of Economou's links to organized crime figure Chester "Ace" Bernstein. Unbeknownst to Escalante, Ace was responsible for getting him his first job as a stable hand in 1982.
- Main article: Luck (pilot)
In the stables of Santa Anita Park Escalante watches Jo, a veterinarian, examining one of his horses. She removes her stethoscope and reports that the animal has slow bowel sounds. Escalante asks her to see what is going on and she nods and lubricates a long plastic glove. She gets behind the animal and waves a gloved hand at Escalante, asking if he wishes it were him wearing the glove. He calls her crazy and then looks around at a jockey saddling one of his other horses, Mon Gateau. Escalante calls over Miguel, one of his stable hands, to hold the reigns of the horse Jo is examining and then approaches the jockey.
Escalante pulls the jockey’s stick from his back pocket and tells him that he won’t need it. The jockey, a Cajun named Leon Micheaux, defers to Escalante. Escalante instructs him to jog the horse once the wrong way around the track to loosen him up for his race in the afternoon. Micheaux says that he is excited to be riding for Escalante as Escalante helps him into the saddle. Escalante says nothing and Micheaux goes on to say that he will run big with Escalante’s horse. Escalante pauses and then asks him what he said before asking him to clarify if he meant the morning or the afternoon. Micheaux is confused by Escalante’s Spanish inflected English. Escalante tells Micheaux to follow his instructions and keep quiet about what he does not know, threatening to call his manager Joey Rathburn (Escalante uses Rathburn’s nickname “Porky Pig”). Micheaux says that he will comply and Mon Gateau is lead out of the stables.
Escalante returns to Jo. She says that she is surprised Escalante got the horse to race and he tells her that he is cannot believe where she puts her hands. She removes the soiled glove and reports that there was no pathology on internal examination. She says that he working diagnosis is gas colic and Escalante wonders if he can give the horse milk. She agrees that milk of magnesium would be helpful. She wonders if Escalante has met Economou, describing him as the limo driver and referencing his winnings in Las Vegas. Escalante suggests that Economou is being backed by a third party. Jo wonders if there is “monkey business” afoot. Escalante explains that Economou worked as Bernstein’s driver before his three-year imprisonment. Jo nods and says that it is “gorilla business”, aware of Bernstein’s reputation. She returns the topic to the horse, saying that it is entitled to a touch of colic after the long trip from Ireland. Escalante asks her to check on the horse again in the afternoon. She wonders if he has been to Ireland and he says that he has not. She jokes that he has a heavy brogue. Escalante discusses the horse in Spanish with Miguel. He then comments on the loudmouthed jockey. He tells the colicky horse that it has a plain appearance for such a valuable buy.
Escalante calls Rathburn to complain about the loudmouthed Cajun jockey he has sent him. Rathburn is disbelieving and apologetic. Escalante asks Rathburn to keep the jockey quiet and Rathburn assents. Rathburn later reprimands Micheaux.
Escalante waits with Mon Gateau when it is time for the race to begin, catching Micheaux as he emerges from the jockey's locker rooms. Escalante instructs him to keep the horse covered so she does not go too fast and when he is ready to take her wide to ensure that she does not get stopped. Rathburn watches from the sidelines as Micheaux tells Escalante that he hopes this will be the first of many races he rides for him. Rathburn urges Micheaux to keep quiet. Micheaux holds out his fist for a bump and Rathburn hangs his head. Escalante does not respond to the gesture and reiterates his advice that the horse is a strong finisher but must be kept wide.
Escalante sits in the stands for the race. The horses are led into the starting gate. Marceaux and Mon Gateau take their position in the fifth bay. The gate opens as Marceaux calls for more time. Escalante comments on his performance in Spanish. Marceaux is trapped against the rail by another rider. Escalante notes the jockey’s failure to follow his advice. Marceaux calls for his colleague to let him wide and the other rider refuses. Mon Gateau’s pace increases as an opening on the inside presents itself. Marceaux guides the horse through the gap to victory. Escalante is pleased with Mon Gateau’s performance.
After the race, Leon brings Mon Gateau next to the trainer and begins a greeting. Escalante interrupts and chides Leon for failing to follow his instructions. A reporter from HRTV asks for Escalante’s reaction and he feigns surprise.
Escalante goes to a betting machine and claims his winnings; two tickets with $13200 and $26400. Escalante takes a call from Gus Economou, who has arrived at the track to see his horse. Escalante shows Economou into his stables and explains the problem with his horse’s lack of bowel movements. Escalante says that the horse appears otherwise well and checks with Miguel that the situation has not changed. Economou wonders when they will race and Escalante says the horse will tell them when they are ready. Escalante shows Economou over to Mon Gateau and tells Economou about the horse’s recent win. Economou says that he wished he had known and Escalante claims that he was just as unaware of the horse’s potential. Economou notices a goat in the stable. Escalante gives Economou a carrot to feed to the horse but Economou is worried about somehow upsetting the animal. Escalante dismisses his fears as unfounded. Economou enjoys the sensation and Escalante suspects that he is acting. Economou says that it really was his first time and Escalante says he will call him “El Naturale”. Economou delivers Bernstein’s prepared admonition “spare me the hat dance”. Escalante agrees not to hold Economou's hand. Miguel emerges from Economou’s horses stable with a shovel full of excrement. Escalante claps and tells Economou that he can inform “whoever would care” that the horse is out of the woods.
- Main article: Episode 1.2
Escalante walks Lizzie out onto the track and instructs her how to handle Pint of Plain in his workout. He says that since Pint of Plain is a busy body who always has his head out of his stall and will want to see take everything in. Escalante and Lizzie halt as they notice Rosie talking to Walter Smith.
Escalante calls his scout up in the stands to ask about Smith’s bay. The scout reports Gettin’ Up Morning’s name, age and lineage. Escalante recognizes Delphi’s name and says the horse has a right to be OK. The scout says that he might need a vacation because he understood everything Escalante said.
Jo ducks out of Mon Gateau’s stall and tells Escalante that she has given his horse the diuretic he requested. Escalante wonders if she thinks he will lose the horse to a claim and she admits she is baffled as to why the horse is still running claim races given its victory. Escalante says that he is going to run the horse with wraps on its forelegs to scare away potential buyers. Jo calls the ploy “old-school” as Escalante leads her out of his barn. He shows her Pint of Plain and reports that Ace is on his way to see the horse. Jo reassures Escalante that his horse is doing well. Escalante strokes the horse as he says it was all eyes and ears during its workout. He sends his stable hand to water the horse and derisively notes that Ace is trying to butt into his business. Jo responds with a sigh.
Escalante has the bandages applied and then leads Mon Gateau out. He greets Ace and Gus outside the barn. Gus makes introductions and Escalante is sycophantic. Ace urges him not to interrupt his routine and Gus tells them that while Gus’ horse is a champion he is about to race an $8,000 bum. Across the track Goose tells Renzo that the horse looks good. Leon walks up to Escalante and is introduced. Ace wishes him a safe race as he leaves with Escalante and Mon Gateau. Gus asks Ace to explain training races to him. Ace tells him that the horses in the race all have a buying price set by their owners. Gus wonders when you have to pay and Ace says that the claim is put in before the race. Gus asks if you can pull your offer after seeing the horse runs and Ace explains that at that point you own the horse unless someone else has claimed it too. Ace notes that Gus knew the answer to his last question already.
Leon asks Escalante if he should warm the horse up thoroughly. Escalante suspiciously questions why Leon is asking. Leon says he had no reason. Escalante says that Leon should be as sound as the horse while helping him up. Escalante returns to Ace and Gus. Gus says that Leon seems nice and Escalante says that he has no brains. Escalante tells Gus that the horse will win provided Leon stays on.
Leon is led out to the starting gate. The starter’s assistant asks if he is ready and Leon uncertainly affirms. The gate opens. Mon Gateau is trapped between two other riders. Leon pulls back on the reins and Mon Gateau tosses his head in defiance. Escalante is annoyed that Mon Gateau is not beating the competition, knowing that the horse should run better than the others in the claiming race and blaming Leon. Leon eventually slows the horse enough to go outside his competition. He then allows the horse to reach its full speed and overtakes the riders who had boxed him in. Escalante urges him on. Leon progresses through the field and takes the lead. Leon wins lengths ahead of the field. Escalante walks down from the stands and passes a man in the crowd who observes that Escalante made easy money with the win. Escalante replies that the horse ran well. Escalante, Leon and Mon Gateau pose for a photograph. A Steward’s Assistant places a claimed tag on Mon Gateau. Leon dismounts and commiserates Escalante on Mon Gateau being claimed. Escalante warns Leon to hope that he does not find out that Leon talked to anyone. Leon protests his innocence as Escalante stalks off. Gus observes that Escalante looks unhappy for someone who has just won.
Escalante approaches Ace and Gus in the stands, complaining about losing Mon Gateau. Gus offers congratulations to Escalante on the win anyway. Escalante promises to get revenge on whoever talked about his horse, ignoring Gus and addressing Ace. Ace says only good and then waits for Escalante. Escalante apologises for bothering them with his problem. Ace asks when Gus can see his horse and Escalante offers to take them right away.
In Escalante’s barn Gus says that Pint of Plain is looking much better than last week. Escalante says that often people have a feeling and speak when they really know nothing about the subject, insulting Gus and referencing his belief that someone’s big mouth is behind his loss of Mon Gateau. Gus and Ace take offence. Ace and Escalante share a hard stare and Ace asks if it is too hard to keep a civil tongue. Escalante says that he will not beg to keep the horse. Escalante agrees that the horse is better and reports that he has had new shoes fitted. Ace tells Gus that the horse has a great stride, adding that Gus showed him tapes to maintain the illusion of Gus being the decision maker. Escalante agrees that the horse has a smooth action on the track. Escalante says that he had to start paying all of Mon Gateau’s bills himself two years prior because the horse had a problem with its front legs. He is upset that he has now had to give the horse away to Mulligan. Ace tells Escalante that it appears that he lost in a game he ran. Gus is distracted by the goat and points it out to Ace. Ace says only good and does not look away from Escalante. Escalante reports that Pint of Plain likes the goat and will often nudge him with his nose. Escalante’s stable hand says that the goat waits by Pint of Plain’s stall when the horse is out of the barn in Spanish and Escalante translates for his visitors. Escalante says that the stable hands have named the goat after an exercise rider because of his bowed legs. Ace asks what Gus calls him and Escalante tells him “Goat”. Ace asks how much Escalante pays for the bags of carrots he has on the side, clarifying that he means now rather than when Escalante started out 30 years ago. Escalante checks with the stable hand and reports that it is about $15 a bag. Escalante asks why Ace cares about the cost of the carrots. Ace avoids the question and asks if Escalante knows that he was in prison. Escalante confirms that he has heard people say so. Ace suggests that people might also say that Gus’ ownership of Pint of Plain is related to organized crime. Escalante says that he wouldn’t know, being from Peru. Ace smiles and asks to pet the horse. He gently strokes the horses head as Escalante observes that the horse has a plain head.
- Jo: Veterinarian
- Miguel: Stable hand
- Joey Rathburn: Jockey's agent
- Leon Micheaux: Jockey
- Gus Economou: Client
- Chester "Ace" Bernstein: Organized crime figure
- "Wow, that horse run fast." (regarding Mon Gateau in "Luck")
- "What a surprise!" (to a reporter regarding Mon Gateau's victory in "Luck")
|Season one appearances|
|Luck||Episode 1.2||Episode 1.3|
|Episode 1.4||Episode 1.5||Episode 1.6|
|Episode 1.7||Episode 1.8||Episode 1.9|