Pete Fornatale and Jonathon Kinchen have a brilliant podcast called the In the Money Podcast, where they talk about handicapping, racing previews, and more. I recently appeared on the show to talk about books, artwork, and other gift ideas for the horse racing person in your life. Here are the books that I recommended!
The 150th edition of the Travers Stakes, the Midsummer Derby for three-year-olds, will be run at Saratoga Race Course this Saturday. The Travers trophy has legendary origins of its own, as I discussed here, but 2019 features something new for racing fans: an epic book on the history of the Travers Stakes, written by Brien Bouyea and Michael Veitch.
This weekend, both Milt Toby and I will be at the Southern Kentucky Book Festival in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Milt will be there to talk about Taking Shergar, his book on the kidnapping of Shergar, 1981 Epsom Derby winner, and the mystery surrounding the horse’s ultimate fate. I can’t wait for the chance to talk to Milt in person about his latest book, which I profiled here earlier this month. To follow up my profile of Taking Shergar, here are Milt Toby’s Author Answers!
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
In 1978, as Affirmed and Alydar sizzled down the stretch of the Belmont Stakes, I was a one-year-old toddler oblivious to the drama playing out between these two colts. It would be a decade before I would learn of their legendary battles amid the backdrop of racing’s most elite pursuit, the Triple Crown. To this day, I imagine that, like any rivalry, I would find fans who would be firmly on one side or the other. Affirmed or Alydar? The golden chestnut of Harbor View Farm & his owners Lou & Patricia Wolfson or the reddish-gold son of Raise a Native, the last great hope of the Markeys and the legendary Calumet Farm?
John Perrotta has had a jack-of-all-trades career in racing: jockey’s agent, handicapper, sportswriter, breeder, and now Vice President, Operations at Santa Anita Park. This month, his Racetrackers was my Book of Note, a collection of stories from Perrotta’s years at the racetrack. Mr. Perrotta was kind enough to answer my questions for this week’s Author Answers.