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!
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!
As 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.
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.
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.
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.
Recently, I had the joy of reading and writing about Phil Dandrea’s book Sham: Great Was Second Best here on the blog. Sham had a great career of his own, winning races like the Santa Anita Derby, but happened to be born in the same year as the second-best horse of the 20th century. Now, let’s hear from the author himself and find out a little bit more about writing this book on the horse that pushed Secretariat during his 1973 Triple Crown run.
He was always destined to be a champion.
Finally, 100 years after his Triple Crown triumph, the full story of Sir Barton, America’s first Triple Crown winner, comes to you from myself and the University Press of Kentucky. You can pre-order Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown now ahead of the book’s official publication in early May.
Stay tuned to the blog and my Twitter feed for information on promotions, appearances, and more as we count down to the 100th anniversary of America’s first Triple Crown and celebrate the life of Sir Barton, the champion who brought us the ultimate chase for greatness in American horse racing.
Want to pre-order Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown? Order your copy today from any of these retailers!
The 20th century had two Big Reds: Man o’ War and Secretariat, both horses so dominant that they topped the list of the century’s greatest horses at numbers one and two. Both red chestnuts captured the hearts and imaginations of the people who watched them. Both inspired writers and verse to encapsulate their equine greatness, with multiple books devoted to their stories. These Big Reds stood at the top, their brilliant performances their legacy to the sport of horse racing. Behind those thrilling moments, though, lie their catalysts, the horses who might have finished second but drove those Big Reds to bigger and better. Among those were horses like Sir Barton and Sham.
Three weeks ago, I featured Duel for the Crown by Linda Carroll and Dave Rosner as the blog’s Book of Note for December. Their thrilling profile of the rivalry between Affirmed and Alydar recounted both their epic battles on the track and the people and moments that brought those two great horses to that thrilling Belmont finish in 1978, where Affirmed bested Alydar by a scant nose to win the Triple Crown. This month’s Author Answers features Linda Carroll, award-winning author of Duel for the Crown and Out of the Clouds and reporter for many prestigious publications, including Reuters, the New York Times, and NBC News.