Sunday, February 6, 2011


The horse racing kick continues. Bought this book after someone donated it at work. Part of the Thoroughbred Legends series that Eclipse Press put out, I have always wanted to get these books. They are really handsome books and I actually feel that the dustjacket detracts from the overall quality of the book. While the dustjacket is understated, the book itself contains the sepia-toned photo shown on the dustjacket on the cover which is a lovely red with a gold-embossed title and spine. Add a built-in ribbon bookmarker and it's a nice book. Sadly, they reissued the series of 24 books in softcover. I miss the days when books could be works of art. While I wouldn't go that far with this, it is mighty nice.

But books are for reading, and this was an OK read. The book has small dimensions and large margins which makes for a small amount of text for a 220+ page book. And it is about a horse so the content isn't dazzling. Secretariat was an amazing horse, one of a handful that transcended the sport. Mention the name and even non-racing fans know something (exposure has recently been increased by the film about Secretariat which I will be reviewing soon, too). But still, what can you write about a horse?

Well, the author begins by talking about the farm on which Secretariat was eventually born and raised. He then goes into a chapter which reads like the beginning of the Book of Matthew ("Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren") only with horses. Then we get into Secretariat's career. This portion is the mot interesting and Capps reports the races very nicely and discusses some of the rival horses that Secretariat faced.

Rival might be a bit strong of a word. The only time Secretariat finished outside of the top three in a race was his first race, where he finished fourth. The only time he was not the favorite in a race, he went off at 3-2 odds.

Of course, nothing demonstrated the lack of a rivalry better than Secretariat's romp at the Belmont Stakes:

Secretariat was retired after his three-year old season. The book talks about his career at stud and the relative lackluster nature of that career and then ends in a really goofy way with a fantasy race call between Secretariat and Man O'War. Lame way to end.

Not a bad book but not good either. It referenced Bill Nack's biography of Secretariat a couple of times, a book I own but have not read. Maybe sometime in the near future.

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