Headless Horsemen: A Tale of Chemical Colts, Subprime Sales Agents, and the Last Kentucky Derby on Steroids

James D. Squires, Author . Times $25 (249p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9060-4

Squires, a newspaperman–turned–horse breeder who bred 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos (chronicled in his 2003 book, Horse of a Different Color ), offers a meandering though at times hilarious and informative look at the troubled condition of horse racing at the end of 2008. The book is a subjective combination of memoir, recent horse-racing history and rant at the use of steroids, “subprime” sales agents and the tradition-laden powers who oversee the horse business, known as “the Dinnies.” Squires, a self-described “pygmy breeder,” spins some engaging stories, especially about the exploits and influence wielded by the late veterinarian Dr. Alexander Harthill on the outcomes of the Kentucky Derby. Although Squires is critical of much in horse racing, he writes persuasively about the love for horses that he and his wife share with “real horse people.” And Squires makes a passionate defense of the integrity of Larry Jones, who trained Eight Belles, the horse euthanized on the track after finishing second and then breaking both ankles in the 2008 Kentucky Derby. For casual horse-racing fans, though, some of his exposition on the multifarious boards that run the industry or the minutiae of X-rays given to horses may be more detail than necessary. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 06/01/2009
Release date: 08/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
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