The Rider’s Life in American Thoroughbred Racing


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About the Book

Being a jockey is more than a career, it’s a way of life. The glitz and glamour of the show may belie all the time and effort that goes into it, but the life of a jockey entails a great deal of risk, personal sacrifice and hardship. Often viewed as second-rate athletes, partly because of their small size, these riders are in actuality some of the toughest men in the athletic world. Pound for pound, they are unmatched in physical prowess. Controlling and guiding large thoroughbreds requires a great deal of strength and skill. In addition, there is little room for error during the close-run, high-speed races where the necessity of implementing a winning strategy makes the sport mentally as well as physically taxing.
This volume provides an in-depth look at the self-employed, independent contractor known as the jockey and the all-encompassing culture of the race track he calls home. The book details the qualities and abilities of the successful jockey, the transitory nature of horse racing, the jockey’s constant battle regarding weight, the financial motivation of the sport and the close-knit nature of the profession. Interviews with over 100 jockeys including Hall of Famers Pat Day, Earlie Fires and Russell Baze, add a personal focus and give the reader an inside glimpse into the world of horse racing. The last chapter includes brief biographical sketches of the most influential riders from the last 50 years.

About the Author(s)

Scott A. Gruender is an associate member of the National Turf Writers Association and lives in Renton, Washington.

Bibliographic Details

Scott A. Gruender
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 215
Bibliographic Info: 27 photos, index
Copyright Date: 2007
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2819-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v

Preface      1

Introduction      3

1. Becoming a Jockey      7

2. Day in the Life      24

3. Winning Is Everything      38

4. Size Really Does Matter      77

5. They’re Off!      94

6. Those Are the Breaks      145

7. Best of the Best      164

8. Out of the Saddle      192

Notes on Sources      201

Index      203