I Will Be at the Kentucky Derby Museum’s Fan Fest!

FanFest-2019-HomepageFeatureThe 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!

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Billy Kelly, Hall of Famer, Stablemate to History

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.

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Books of Note: Never Say Die

neversaydiebookIf 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.

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Tools of the Trade: More on Interlibrary Loan

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!

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Tools of the Trade: More on the Keeneland Library

The Keeneland Library is a valuable resource for anyone who works in the sport of horse racing in literally any capacity. For writers, it is the home of the richest collection of publications, photographs, and other resources that one would need to create any book on the sport. For anyone working on breeding or a fan who wants to find more on their favorite horses, the Library will help any patron find the information necessary to answer nearly any question out there. As a follow-up to my post on the Library, I wanted to find out more about the Library experience from Roda Ferraro, the head librarian at the Keeneland Library. Read on!

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Tools of the Trade: More on the Daily Racing Form Archive

Becky Ryder, director of the Keeneland Library, supervised the creation of the Daily Racing Form archive in 2007, overseeing everything from scanning the fragile pages of more than a century’s worth of the DRF to creating the digital archive for anyone to use. To follow up my earlier post on this important tool, I wanted to find out more about the archive and its creation from Ms. Ryder. Read on to learn more about this important repository of racing history!

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Tools of the Trade: The Keeneland Library

keenelandinteriorAs a reader, a student, and now as a writer, I have spent my share of days in a library. As a child, I searched for books on horse racing and other interests, the shelves and shelves of tomes on all sorts of subjects my sole source of research in the pre-Internet days. My days of writing research papers from high school to graduate school meant that I spent hours pouring over shelves and through journals, seeking the right sources for whatever argument I was making. Writing this book on Sir Barton meant that I needed to seek THE library in this country that contains 99.9% of what an author like me would need: the Keeneland Library, the single greatest collection of books, photographs, and publications about horse racing in the country.

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Tools of the Trade: Interlibrary Loan

Libraries are the greatest resources any society can create for itself: a repository of books, documents, visual media, and more that anyone can access either for free or for minimal cost. When we were kids, our school libraries were fun places to find books that sated our thirst for knowledge or imagination. In high school and college, libraries became the source of necessary information for expanding on our ideas, to prove or disprove any argument that we needed to make for that all-important research paper. For this writer and for you guys, my readers, the library provides another amazing resource: Interlibrary Loan.

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Tools of the Trade: Daily Racing Form Archive

When I started researching Sir Barton’s career, I knew I had to start with the individual races themselves before I worked to connect the dots between them. The best place to find all of the details of his starts was the Daily Racing Form, the source of form charts and articles about the previous day’s races and other news going back to 1894. The only problem? The Keeneland Library is five hours away! Yikes! How was I going to do this research? Cue the Daily Racing Form archive.

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Commander Ross Tries Again

One of the perils of writing is the inevitable cuts that one has to make in order to meet a word count. Commander Ross’s purchase of the filly Constancy is one of those interesting moments that occurred during Sir Barton’s career, but, since Sir Barton himself is not part of this story, this tidbit had to go. However, I wanted to share this with you here on the blog as Constancy became one of the first mares Sir Barton covered when he retired to stud duty at Audley Farm in Virginia. 

One of the features of Saratoga’s August meet was the showcasing of juvenile talent; Man o’ War was the flashiest and most dominant of the juveniles, but other stables had their own hopefuls on display as well. Ross’s juveniles included colts King Thrush, Trench Mortar, Irish Dancer, and Royal Jester as well as fillies His Choice and Bryngar. King Thrush was the first of the Ross juveniles to run at Saratoga, finishing third in the Flash Stakes on August 1st and then faced Man o’ War in the Grand Union Hotel Stakes, finishing fourth behind the big red colt. With the exception of Bryngar and His Choice, none of Ross’s other two-year-olds ran at Saratoga, leaving the stable light on horses to challenge the big red colt – until Ross made a deal with Arthur B. Hancock that brought the filly Constancy into the fold.

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