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Run for the Roses: New Nonfiction Horse Racing Books for Derby Week!

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The Run for tee Roses, aka The Kentucky Derby, IS America’s horse race. People who never give horse racing a thought will watch the brief race on t.v. In Louisville, the home of Churchill Downs where the race is held, parties are held with mint juleps, Hot Brown sandwiches, Derby Pie, and other goodies each year (see this post for more on the special foods). It’s the one day in America when a lady’s hat matters! Except for the First Lady on Inauguration Day, I can’t think of another day on which American ladies put on a hat anymore.

Most Americans can name Secretariat and Seabiscuit thanks to the popular books/movies, and possibly still Man O’War and a few others, but there is more to horse racing than just the Derby [pronounced Der-bee here]. You can read about those books in the other post (here’s another link to it). Horse racing is a popular sport in many parts of the world. While I am giving some books today on American horse racing, others will be from around the world. Place your bets and enjoy the races!

The Books

The Ones To Pre-Order

The Triple Crown winner, those horses who’ve won the Kentucky Derby, The Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes, all in one season, are among the world’s greatest athletes. This book, due out in August, tells their stories. The Lucky Thirteen: The Winners of America’s Triple Crown of Horse Racing by Edward Bowen, can be pre-ordered now.

“An exploration of living and working at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans comprising photography, interviews, and personal correspondence of jockeys, horse groomers, trainers, and other key backside players.” (Amazon). This book was scheduled to release on April 1, 2021, but has not yet appeared. The Horses Pulled Me Back To Them: Life On The Backside Of The New Orleans Fair Grounds by Aubrey Dawne Edwards, Jay Addison, and Frank Bernis.

The New One

Newly out in April, author Nicholson returns to horse racing to look at “Zev,” a horse billed as “racing for America.” This book looks at the lives of the major players in the race, including the scandalous and even criminal background of Zev’s owner. Racing for America by James C. Nicholason. See Nicholson’s older book, Never Say Die. It tells the story of the Kentucky-bred horse who won the 1954 Epson Derby.

When I read the blurb on this one, I immediately added it to my TBR: “Czechoslovakia, October 1937. Vast crowds have gathered to watch the threatened nation’s most prestigious sporting contest: the Grand Pardubice steeplechase. Notoriously dangerous, the race is considered the ultimate test of manhood and fighting spirit. The Nazis have sent elite SS officers to crush the “subhuman Slavs.” The local cavalry officers have no hope of stopping them. But there is one other contestant: a countess riding a little golden mare…” (Amazon).  Unbreakable: The Woman Who Defied the Nazis in the World’s Most Dangerous Horse Race by Richard Askwith.

The Mongol Derby, a horse race composed of 25 wild ponies competing over approximately 621 miles (i.e. 1,000 kilometers) sounds undoable. But the author of Rough Magic set out to ride it–at age 19! Rough Magic: Riding the World’s Loneliest Horse Race by Lara Prior-Palmer.

Jim Crow drove most of the African American jockeys and trainers out of American horse racing. This book tells the story of the “hidden” aspects of Kentucky Derby history.  Hidden History of Horse Racing in Kentucky by Foster Ockerman Jr.

Do you know of other new nonfiction books related in any way to horse racing? Leave me a comment or a link to your post.

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