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Book Review

Horse Racing's Top 100 Moments by Blood-Horse Staff
Eclipse Press, May 2006, 256 pages softcover

Thoroughbred racing, like any other sport, has key moments in its history that fans will talk about forever. From the obvious highlight races such as Secretariat's 31-length Belmont romp and the Seabiscuit-War Admiral match race, to innovations like the Puett starting gate and photo-finish camera, and of course the low-lights, such as the disqualification of Dancer's Image and the embarrassing Breeders' Cup Pick Six scandal, who can accurately rank the top 100 such moments of the past 100 years? Who can fairly compare innovations like the lip tattoo with the tragedy of Ruffian's breakdown? In its new book, Horse Racing's Top 100 Moments, Blood-Horse Publications enlisted an all-star panel of eight racing writers and historians to debate and finally decide on which moments to include in the book and in what order, a very difficult task indeed.

Clearly nobody will agree totally with the panel's ranking order, but few would disagree with the moments they did choose, making the ranking order a source of debate among fans for years to come. Edward Bowen, Timothy Capps, Morton Cathro, Alice Chandler, Steve Haskin, Joe Hirsch, John McEvoy, and William Nack collectively came up with 100 exciting, devastating, uplifting, and groundbreaking moments, each of which significantly contributed to the rich history of this great sport. Each moment includes a thorough yet brief article about the moment and its significance in the sport's history, written by one of the panelists. These articles are very entertaining and informative and the photos selected were a nice complement, with many rare pictures in addition to the expected shots like Secretariat winning the Belmont.

Given where the book was written, the vast majority of the moments chosen took place in America, but several key foreign events were included, including the kidnapping and murder of Shergar by the Irish Republican Army. Other than that, most of the foreign moments were included only because there was an American connection to the story, such as Phar Lap being shipped to North America to finish out his career and Cigar winning the inaugural Dubai World Cup. Fans of foreign racing may be disappointed that overseas events were simply ignored.

A useful appendix is included, sorting the top-100 list into sub-categories, by category (racing, breeding, innovations, etc.) and by decade, allowing the reader to quickly find a particular moment in history and turn to the correct page. Also in the appendix is a list of "Honorable Mentions", 25 more moments in history which missed the cut, ranked in order from 101-125.

This work belongs in every racing aficionado's personal library. It is an amazing look back at 100 years of racing history and some of the greatest horses and people to have graced the Turf, showing how the sport got to where it is today. For many of the events featured, fans will either remember where they were when it happened or wish they had witnessed it in person. At just $24.95 list price, this book is a very worthwhile investment for fans of racing history.

Horse Racing's Top 100 Moments has a list price of $24.95 and is available from Exclusively Equine for $19.95 which includes shipping or for $15.72.

Rating:     4.5/5

For those interested in other Top 100 type books, check out these:

Thoroughbred Champions: Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century also from Blood Horse
100 Greatest Races from Racing Post covering mostly European races

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