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Book Review

Dream Race
The Search for the Greatest Thoroughbred Race Horse of All Time
by Robert Clark
Horse and Dragon Publishing, November 2004, 176 pages hardcover

This book is a unique blend of racing history and art that doesn't really try to answer the age-old question of who was the best of all time, but instead educates the reader in an entertaining way to allow him or her to come to their own conclusion. The author not only wrote the text of the book but also painted the 12 gorgeous paintings that grace cover and each section of the Dream Race. A descendent of both author Mark Twain and M. Lewis Clark, the founder of Churchill Downs, Robert Clark has combined his love of racing and talent for capturing the action of the track on canvas in a gorgeous and entertaining volume.

Rather than a dry history lecture about these great horses, it is instead set up in the framework of a fictional interview with a long time backside worker who has seen all the greats. A rookie reporter gets his first assignment to write an article about the greatest thoroughbred of all time and in his search to find out who this may be he finds Leonard who educates him on his concept of the Dream Race. Each chapter is dedicated to a different Dream Race:

Ladies First (the Dream Distaff)
Between Crowns (Citation to Secretariat)
Superfreaks (the 70's)
The Three Kings (the foundation sires)
Eclipse First (the original Eclipse)
Men of War (descendents of Man O'War)
After Affirmed (80's to present)
Global Gauntlet (European champions)
Iron Horses (ones with long careers like John Henry)
Trinity (Man O'War, Citation, Secretariat)
The Fourth Crown (all the Triple Crown winners)
All good things... (the Calumet Farm champions)
In each chapter, the various horses for the race are discussed in an entertaining conversational manner which gives you the information to decide which one you thing would win, but never giving a definite answer. As the epilogue says: "The question of who is the greatest horse is one for people to debate, but maybe better left unanswered." A painting of each race shows either the running or post parade with all the participants pictured and a key showing which is which in the painting. All the races are at tracks you will recognize like Churchill Downs, Pimlico, Belmont, Keeneland, Saratoga, etc., and perfectly capture the color and spirit of the horses and track.

This book would be worth buying for the pictures alone, but the story tying it all together makes it even more special. It would be a perfect way to introduce someone to the history and glory of horse racing in a painless and entertaining manner. Racing fans who enjoy debating the question of who is the greatest of all time will find it entertaining and informative as well, especially the way each race is grouped so like horses are presented together. As a bonus, the author has included a word search and a crossword puzzle featuring the horses in the book. If you enjoyed the paintings, a form is enclosed to order a print of your favorite or a set of all 12.

Dream Race has a list price of $39.95 and is available from Amazon.com or direct from the publisher.

Rating:     5/5

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