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Book Review

Global Racing: The Complete Guide to the Greatest Foreign Racecourses
by Alan Shuback
DRF Press, December 2008, 374 pages hardcover

Thanks to air travel, increasing purses, and owners willing to take the plunge, horse racing has become a truly international sport. Horses can ship anywhere in the world, run their race, and be back home a week later to prepare for the next mission. For the horseplayer this adds new challenges, particularly when a foreign horse ships in to an American track and the quality of his or her competition at home is unclear, or conversely when an American horse enters in such places as Dubai, Tokyo, or Hong Kong. In his new book Global Racing, Daily Racing Form's foreign correspondent Alan Shuback provides both horseplayers and professional horsemen with a comprehensive guide to the world's most important racetracks.

Shuback groups the 42 racecourses by country, which includes most of Western Europe, parts of South America, as well as the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand. Each of the major racecourse sections begin with basic information such as address, phone number and website, a course diagram showing the start and finish points for the track's most frequently run distances, and a brief description of the layout of the course since many of them are hilly, have unusually long homestretches, or sharp turns.

A detailed history is included for each racecourse including who built it, when its famous races were started, and some of the great horses that have won there, plus descriptions of the most prestigious races on its calendar and how horses coming off those races would fare against American competition. This is important since although a race may be a Group 1 in that country, idiosyncrasies of the course or country may cause it to draw a lesser quality of horse who might only be Grade 2 or 3 quality in North America. Finally, Shuback includes a list of track records and median times, major races in chronological order (giving group/grade, distance, and age/sex), when the track is open, how to get there, and popular tourist attractions nearby.

After going through the major racecourses of each country, Shuback gives short descriptions of 72 second tier tracks, many of which host Group races but are a notch below in general quality, plus he also lists the major English jumps courses such as Aintree and Cheltenham. Two useful appendices are also included covering the top races around the world. The first lists the 100 richest Thoroughbred flat races in 2007 with the race name, group/grade, racetrack, country, distance, surface, age/sex restrictions, and total purse in U.S. dollars. The second lists the last 20 runnings for 53 of the world's most prestigious races with winners (including trainer, jockey, and owner), second and third place finishers, and final running times.

Using Global Racing, racing fans and horsemen alike can map out raids on top foreign races like the Dubai World Cup, Japan Cup, or the Hong Kong Cup. More importantly, bettors can more confidently handicap first-time foreign imports when they show up at Belmont, Santa Anita, or Woodbine. This is one of the most useful US-oriented international racing guides so far, as it covers all three angles: bettors who need to handicap foreign imports to America, horsemen who want to send their horses to foreign races, and racing fans who want to take a trip overseas.

Global Racing has a list price of $24.95 and is available from Amazon.com for $16.47.

Rating:     4.5/5

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