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Horse racing is a fascinating sport with a rich history. There are many incredible horse racing books that are well worth the read for those who are a fan of the “Sport of Kings.”
From an extensive look into the history of horse racing to biographies of some of the greatest racehorses, these books offer readers an in-depth look at the industry.
There are books that offer insights into betting at the track for those hoping to win big. No matter what your interest is within the industry, these books are excellent reading material.
Here are the seven best horse racing books.
1. The Horse God Built: The Untold Story of Secretariat, the World’s Greatest Racehorse
Secretariat is perhaps the greatest racehorse to ever live. Best-selling equestrian author Lawrence Scanlan tells the story of the fastest Triple Crown champion from the viewpoint Eddie Sweat.
As Secretariat’s groom, Sweat knew the beautiful chestnut better than anyone else. Though he shared little of Big Red’s financial success, he had a deep bond with the horse. Horse-lovers everywhere will be moved by this heartfelt tribute to both Secretariat and Sweat.
“For anybody who loves horses, and for all of those who are thrilled by horse racing and the behind-the-scenes drama of the track, The Horse That God Built is a must-read.”
–Michael Korda, author of Horse People.
2. Out of the Clouds: The Unlikely Horseman and the Unwanted Colt Who Conquered the Sport of Kings
Out of the Clouds tells the rags to riches tales of a dirt-poor Brooklyn city slicker and a failed racehorse. A winner of the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, the book tells the story of racehorse trainer Hirsch Jacobs as he transforms the unwanted Thoroughbred Stymie.
After paying just $1,500 pittance, Jacobs trained Stymie to be a top-notch racehorse in perhaps one of the best bargains in racing. In this Cinderella story, Stymie becomes the first racehorse to win $900,000 with 25 stake wins. This inspiring tale of two unlikely heroes is sure to warm your heart.
“Out of the Clouds is more than the story of a single horse, a single trainer, and their unlikely rise. The whole mid-century world of grit and cigars, of prize fights and thick New York accents–guys and dolls–is in these pages. The book is as much about the big picture as it is the close-up.”―The Wall Street Journal
3. The Greatest Gambling Story Ever Told: A True Tale of Three Gamblers, The Kentucky Derby, and the Mexican Cartel
The Greatest Gambling Story Ever Told shares the colorful story of a stellar three-year filly in the male-dominated horse racing world. It shares the personal experiences of author Mark Paul leading up to the Kentucky Derby.
In the late 1980s, Thoroughbred filly Winning Colors became the longshot bet of three fun-loving gamblers. After Winning Colors became the unlikely winner of the 1988 Kentucky Derby, they set out to claim their prize money.
However, they unknowingly placed their bets with members of a suspected drug cartel at a racetrack in Tijuana, Mexico. This led to the three men making a dangerous journey to get their money.
“A crazier-than-fiction tale of three young gamblers, a Mexican drug cartel, and the 1988 Kentucky Derby. Paul waited years (and for the statute of limitations to run out) to tell this heart-pounding, true story.” – Horse Racing Nation
4. History of Horse Racing: First Past The Post
For history buffs that have a love of horse racing, this book is a must-have. It provides a comprehensive look at some of the greatest jockeys, horses, and trainers the horse racing world has seen.
There are over 220 drawings, photographs, and paintings that offer a glimpse into this multi-billion dollar industry. This book shares tidbits of horse racing from its very beginning to the modern-day. It even dives into some of the most glorious signature racecourses and personalities within the sport.
5. The Sure Thing: The Greatest Coup in Horse Racing History
The Sure Thing provides a compelling insight into renowned gambler Barney Curley, who managed to pull off the biggest horse betting scams in history. Curley was a fearless gambler, who consistently emerged triumphant.
In 1975, Curley became the mastermind of one of the most incredible gambles of all time with a racehorse by the name of Yellow Sam. He cost Irish bookmakers around £300,000, which is the equivalent of around £2 million today.
Despite the communications and technology put in place by bookmakers to hinder any new attempts, Curley was determined to beat the system again.
Thirty-five years after his first coup, he went about staging a bold sequel to his Yellow Sam scheme. This book is a must-read for any of those who enjoy the betting aspect of horse racing.
6. Seabiscuit: An American Legend
This #1 New York Times Bestseller tells the electrifying story of Seabiscuit, one of the greatest underdogs in the horse racing world. As the nation struggled with the Great Depression, Seabiscuit proved to be a sign of hope among the people.
In 1936, horse trainer Tom Smith urged Charles Howard to buy a poor-performing racehorse by the name of Seabiscuit. Smith then hired Red Pollard, a failed boxer who was blind in one eye to become his jockey. Despite the unlikely team, Seabiscuit skyrocketed to success and became one of the greatest racehorses to grace this earth.
Seabiscuit: An American Legend tells the incredible backstory of this American icon and the people behind the scenes. Emotional and compelling, this book is truly a delight to read.
“Engrossing . . . Fast-moving . . . More than just a horse’s tale, because the humans who owned, trained, and rode Seabiscuit are equally fascinating. . . . [Laura Hillenbrand] shows an extraordinary talent for describing a horse race so vividly that the reader feels like the rider.”—Sports Illustrated.
7. American Pharoah: The Untold Story of the Triple Crown Winner’s Legendary Rise
Author Joe Drape shares the making of this exceptional racehorse, who had one of the most iconic careers. From his flamboyant owner’s success at the racetrack to his jockey’s struggles, and the trainer’s strict regime, Drape shares an inspiring glimpse into the people who made this horse. Candid and comprehensive, you won’t be able to put this book down.
“American Pharoah is lucky to have Joe Drape. Actually, they’re lucky to have each other. No horse has given the preeminent chronicler of 21st-century thoroughbreds better material and no other writer could do justice to such a terrific athlete and story. They deserve each other-and anyone who cares about horse racing deserves this book.”―Jeremy Schaap, author of Cinderella Man and Triumph
Also Read: 15 Best Gifts for Horse Racing Fans