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The Red Ponies is the fifth episode of Season 3 of The Mentalist


Patrick Jane and the CBI team hit the horse track when a jockey is found murdered and suspects abound.


Relief from the boredom of the night shift comes first in the form of card tricks, and then a dead body. The body of Bill Sutton is in the alleyway, dead of some blunt force trauma. Jane dubs this the Case of the Jilted Jockey, deducing that Sutton is a jockey based on stature and a number of other things, and because he likes the alliteration. Sutton was found to have a note written on a cocktail napkin (“Forgive me”) as well as a ring in his possession. Also entered into evidence: Rigsby’s card, the ace of spades.

Sutton was a jockey for stable owner Cobb Holwell, but only for the past three weeks. Sutton had been out of the riding profession for a while, but as a friend had known him for years. Jane wanders off and ends up betting Ellis Barnes, another former jockey, and another man that he can choose the top three horses, which he then does successfully.

Cho and Rigsby drop by an apartment complex looking for Linda Lecure, Sutton’s ex-girlfriend. They end up running after another girl who fled when she saw police because she has a bench warrant out for her.

They bring her in and get their whole story. Sutton was banned from riding, and he had temper issues. One night when they were going out, they got into a fender bender and the guy in the other car was trying to intimidate Sutton when he lashed back — majorly. As in, broken bones and all. She left the next day, and they hadn’t seen each other since. Cho shows her the note and the ring.

Cobb caught Frank Lockhart, a rival stable owner, lurking around his stable, and they get into it pretty heavily — verbally, that is. They’re interrupted by Sam Starks, Cobb’s new jockey, dealing with an unruly horse, Pollock’s Dream. Pollock’s twin, Castor’s Folly, is the more mild-mannered of the two, and the one that Sam will be riding in the race. Jane gets a call that Sutton caused a pile up in a race a few years ago that caused several injuries — including Ellis Barnes.

Lisbon, Jane, and Sam talk. Sam’s nervous and Jane points out that she's not a very good liar when she says she’s not being threatened. Lisbon and Jane catch Barnes intimidating Sam verbally, and they make their move to bring him in.

Barnes isn’t talking about who paid him to intimidate Sam, until Cho comes in posing as someone from the California Racing Board. Barnes was about to get a smackdown for divulging inside information, unless he cooperated with Lisbon and the investigation. So he spills: it was Frank Lockhart. Lockhart doesn’t make much of an attempt to deny anything, but he does call in a lawyer.

Meanwhile, after hearing twice about how Van Pelt grew up around horses, Jane takes her to the stables and convinces Sam to let Van Pelt take a ride. Once Van Pelt goes around all properly saddled and everything, Jane puts Van Pelt on Pollock, bareback, and it’s only a couple seconds before Sam freaks and sends them on their merry way — but that’s alright, Jane already has all the information he needs.

On race day, nobody can find Jane — but he puts ten thousand dollars on Castor’s Folly to win, at one hundred to one odds. Holwell freaks out at Jane’s bet, and Jane tells him that he switched the twin horses in their stalls — the horse actually preparing to race right now is the much faster Pollock’s Dream. Jane begins to spout Holwell’s own plan and guilt right back at him, as he does. Sutton wouldn’t go along with the plan to switch up the horses, so Holwell killed him and coerced Sam into it.

While Sam races the horse out on the field, the CBI agents all chase after Holwell. They get him right as Castor and Sam win the race. They find a lug wrench in Holwell’s truck with Sutton’s DNA all over it, but disappointment soon follows: it turns out Jane really can’t read horses. But in order to make Barnes and the other guy think he could, he bet on every three way combination for that first race.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

Season 3 Episodes
Red Sky At Night  · Cackle-bladder Blood  · The Blood On His Hands  · Red Carpet Treatment  · The Red Ponies  · Pink Chanel Suit · Red Hot · Ball of Fire · Red Moon · Jolly Red Elf · Bloodsport · Bloodhounds · Red Alert · Blood for Blood · Red Gold · Red Queen · Bloodstream · The Red Mile · Every Rose Has Its Thorn · Redacted · Like a Redheaded Stepchild · Rhapsody in Red · Strawberries and Cream