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Friday, August 16, 2013

Horse Of A Different Color...by Jim Squires

Horse Of A Different Color: A Tale of Breeding Geniuses, Dominant Females, and the Fastest Derby Winner Since Secretariat by Jim Squires

Jim Squires, retired journalist, writes his story of low budget "breeding genius" that produced Monarchos, the 2001 Kentucky Derby winner.

There were parts of this story I liked. First, getting a look at some dirty statistics. Meaning plenty of horse stories are more than willing to show the thrill of the gamble that is the horse industry, and the pageantry that circles racetracks, but it was nice to see something I didn't necessarily know before; how auctions work, the favoritisms, the scams. The reality of most horses don't race and those that race don't win...The dangers in breeding; the monetary risk should a broodmare not produce, and the heartbreaks and hopes attached to foals... The competitive foreigners trying to win the Derby even if it means spending millions on untested horses...

But there were things in the storyline that made the book feel unfocused. Moments where Jim Squires would compare himself to "so-and-so and this happened and then that happened..." and when he comes back to present times, he forgets to underline why his current predicament is similar to so-and-so. I didn't mind him calling his wife the dominant female; having been around horses for years, I know what he means. I did find the overuse of the word "Kenturkey" annoying, it was only funny the first time. I also think in the beginning he refers to himself as "the breeding genius" in a sarcastic way, but later he believes it...And I'm not saying having a Derby winner isn't something to brag home about, of course it is, but let's be realistic...Even if you bred one champion to another champion there is no guarantee that their foal would also be a champion...So breeding is almost a bigger gamble than having a horse in the Kentucky Derby.

Which technically: they didn't. Don't get confused; Jim Squires may have bred Monarchos, but he sold the horse to another farm. This is not a story about a racehorse; Monarchos doesn't get the honor of being referred to by name until over the halfway point. This is a story about the man who bred a racehorse... At times the story meanders off course and the most exciting moments come when he's describing a race in progress; at least he had the good sense to end the story on Monarchos's victory, and sadly, the horse's only claim to fame as he won little else.

Overall, its a decent read; you learn a little and get a little entertainment, despite the narrator's mood swings which are about as exhausting as a dominant mare in heat.

Rating 3/5
Review's original post date:
Apr 7, 2013

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