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Headless Horsemen: A Tale of Chemical Colts, Subprime Sales Agents, and the Last Kentucky Derby on Steroidsby Jim Squires
Synopses & Reviews
"An insider's stunning account of the corrupt practices that threaten both the horses and the game . . . an engrossing read." —Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Jim Squires was in trouble. He was in the horse business, an enterprise seemingly intent on committing suicide, led over the cliff by visionless leaders. A clannish group called "the Dinnies" had long refused to share power, as vast overproduction and unbridled greed created a subprime-like bubble in the market. Overpriced animals of dubious quality and drug-enhanced performance on the track were undermining the integrity of competition and ultimately the very breed itself. With its economic model broken, its tawdry sales practices under attack, and its public image in tatters, the sport was overdue for a reckoning.
Headless Horsemen is Squires's critique of what is happening to the sport and the animals he loves, as he and a small group of unlikely heroes agitate for a return to fair dealing. For anyone who cares about the soul and survival of horse racing, this book is an impassioned call to arms.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Prominent journalist-turned-horse-breeder Squires offers a pointed and irreverent critique of thoroughbred racing's breakdown. For anyone who cares about the soul and survival of horseracing, this book offers an impassioned call to arms.
About the Author
Jim Squires is the author of Horse of a Different Color, an account of his wild ride as the breeder of Monarchos, the winner of the 2001 Kentucky Derby. He has been breeding and raising horses since 1977, thoroughbreds in Kentucky since 1990, and was the editor of the Chicago Tribune from 1981 to 1989. He lives in Versailles, Kentucky.
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