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!
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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.
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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.
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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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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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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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