As we count down to the publication of Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown, coming soon from the University Press of Kentucky, I wanted to do something special for the amazing horses and people of Old Friends. Watch the video for more details!
The road to the 145th Kentucky Derby is paved with points; the road to the 45th was far different. You can read about it in “The Road to Glory.”
The Triple Crown celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Learn more about the evolution of Triple Crown at Old Smoke Clothing Co.’s Dark Tuesday blog.
And I had the best time writing this for the Converse County (WY) Board of Tourism:
The other day, I had someone ask me where I put Sir Barton in the pantheon of Triple Crown winners. Where did the first Triple Crown winner rank amongst the thirteen that have won the honor of being the most elite of this sport? In order to answer this question, I sat down with a notebook and my trusty copy of Champions and contemplated exactly how I was going to rank all thirteen.
For my final Books of Note prior to the publication of Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown, I wanted to spotlight Taking Shergar, the first book published under the Horses in History imprint from the University Press of Kentucky. Much like Jamie Nicholson’s book Never Say Die, Milt Toby tells the story that starts with a horse and ends with a story woven together from unexpected threads, a mystery that only a storyteller like Toby can truly tell.
I knew of Shergar as racing’s most famous cold case, a horse kidnapped for ransom and never recovered. However, like most mysteries, I discovered that this one has so much more to it than I thought.
My birthday was this past weekend and I got a lovely little gift from my talented sister-in-law: Little Sir Barton. He will join me at my appearances in support of Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown. I hope you can come by and see us at any of the events listed on the Appearances page.
Many thanks to the amazing Krystal for this lovely gift!
My Book of Note for March is Never Say Die by Jamie Nicholson, a book about the winner of the 1954 Epsom Derby. Never Say Die’s victory marked the swing in how the thoroughbred industry regarded American breeding versus that of their European counterparts. The story of Never Say Die’s Derby win weaves together disparate threads of a story, from the genesis of the Beatles to the controversial figure behind the Singer Manufacturing Company.
Author Jamie Nicholson was kind enough to answer some questions about the book and his family’s Jonabell Farm (now part of Darley America), where Never Say Die was bred. Here are Jamie’s Author Answers!
The 4th Annual Kentucky Derby Fan Fest will be Sunday, April 28th, at the Kentucky Derby Museum, located on the grounds of Churchill Downs. I will be there for a signing and a presentation. I hope you can join me! This year’s theme is the Triple Crown! Fan Fest will celebrate the 1st and the 13th Triple Crown winners as we commemorate 100 years since Sir Barton’s spectacular wins.
Visit the Kentucky Derby Museum’s website for more information on Fan Fest! If you would like to pre-order Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown, find your favorite bookseller and order a copy. I look forward to the chance to chat and sign!
In 2015, nearly sixty years after Sir Barton entered the Hall of Fame in its inaugural class, Billy Kelly, his stablemate and frequent workout partner, got his own place among the ranks of great horses in American racing history. This gelding, sprinting speed in a plain brown wrapper, had an unremarkable pedigree, his name and fame faded with time. Yet his place in the Hall of Fame was assured not because of his proximity to a Triple Crown winner, but because of his consistent excellence carrying high weights over a variety of distances.
If you have read Seabiscuit or Man o’ War or any other book on a horse, you know that the races are the focal point and the narrative builds around what happens between them: the decisions, the challenges, and the interactions between horses and humans that color any career. Jamie Nicholson’s book Never Say Die takes its title from the 1954 Epsom Derby winner bred in the United States and raced in England, but the title belies the story beneath. Not only does the title refer to the horse in question, but also to the state of American racing and breeding within its global context. This is a horse book unlike any other I have read, weaving together the various threads of pedigrees and persons necessary to make American thoroughbreds the gold standard for racing globally.
You might be a frequent patron of your local library, but have you ever taken advantage of their interlibrary loan services? NO? If you haven’t, my earliest post on ILL can help you learn more about this essential service. I have several ILL books sitting on my desk at the moment as I work on my next project and, in order to share more on this important service, I thought I would ask my local ILL librarian, Misty Perkins, about her job at the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library. Go for it, Misty!