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Book Review

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Horse Racing's Most Wanted: The Top Ten Book of Derby Delights, Frenetic Finishes, and Backstretch Banter
By David L. Hudson Jr.
Potomac Books, May 2011, 256 pages paperback

Fans of every sport like to come up with "top 10" lists of various categories, and debate the content and order of such lists with fellow fans in person, on sports talk shows on TV and radio, and of course online. Horse racing is no exception, and no two people would agree completely on who the best is in any given category. In his new book, the latest in Potomac's "Most Wanted" series, Tennessee-based racing fan and author David L. Hudson Jr. compiled fifty "Top Ten" lists to cover the Sport of Kings.

Racing fans may not totally agree with his choices, but by design the book is an entertaining, quick look at the history of Thoroughbred racing in America, with some forays into foreign racing. He ranks categories such as Triple Crown winners, match races, stakes race names, and upsets. Each ranked entry is accompanied by a paragraph explaining the horse/race in question and its significance, what earned it a spot on the list. Fans of Secretariat will not be disappointed; in a nod to the popularity of the horse driven by the recent movie, Hudson came up with a top ten list of Big Red's greatest races, obviously topped by his 31-length Belmont Stakes romp. And while on the topic of movies, the very last list in the book is a ranking of the top ten horse racing movies, with Seabiscuit "nosing out" Secretariat. The distaff side is well represented in the book as well, with lists for "Finest Fillies", "Female Owners", and "Female Jockeys". In one surprise for this reviewer, Zenyatta did not earn a place under Finest Fillies, but she did make the lists of "Captivating Closers" and "Great Nicknames" (The Queen).

This reviewer couldn't come up with a top 10 list that Hudson did not consider, as the 50 lists he created seem to cover every angle. Fans of foreign racing needed to wait till the end, where Hudson ranks the "Best British Racehorses", "Fast French Racehorses", "Irish Racehorse Greats", and "Premier International Races". The author does explain in the introduction that he covered strictly flat Thoroughbred racing, opting not to cover steeplechasing, harness racing, or quarter horses. The text is accompanied by very few photos.

Fans of racing history will enjoy this very fast-paced look at the last century of the American sport. Readers can then decide whether to agree or disagree with Hudson's choices, and possibly rekindle some of these debates with their fellow racing fans. This would also be a nice gift for newer racing fans, giving the "abridged" history of racing rather than a detailed textbook.

Horse Racing's Most Wanted has a list price of $14.95 and can be purchased from Amazon.com for $11.66.

Rating:     4/5

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