Not by a Long Shot: A Season at a Hard Luck Horse Track

T. D. Thornton, Author . Public Affairs $26 (356p) ISBN 978-1-58648-449-1

In this intermittently engaging book, Thornton narrates a long season at Boston's Suffolk Downs racetrack, a blue-collar gambling bastion struggling for survival in the casino age. Thornton—who has spent his life around racetracks as a gambler, groom, reporter, announcer and PR man—possesses a deep sympathy for and understanding of the dynamics and contradictions that sustain this threatened world. As our tour director, he introduces the reader to hard-luck horses and eccentric jockeys, gambling scandals and betting strategies, as well as the ice and rain that inevitably make the sport of kings in New England a muddy mess. Thornton's credentials are impeccable, he has unrivaled access, and he delivers keen observations in a style that alternates between workmanlike and poetic. However, the various story lines he traces—a jockey paralyzed in a racing accident, an old gray famous for finishing second, a shady owner, and his father's small stable—are not strong enough to hold the book together or draw the reader all the way in. Any horseracing fan who wants a peek at the inner workings of a track will want to pick this up, but the attention of the general public might wander. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 12/18/2006
Release date: 04/01/2007
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Hardcover - 369 pages - 978-1-58648-592-4
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