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Wild Ride: The Rise and Tragic Fall of Calumet Farm Inc., America's Premier Racing Dynasty Paperback – December 15, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks (December 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805042423
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805042429
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #241,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Journalist Auerbach untangles the spiderweb of financial machinations that enveloped, consumed, and ultimately destroyed one of the most famous horseracing stables in the world. Through three generations of the Wright family, Calumet led, lost, and regained its preeminence as a breeding farm and racing stable only to lose everything, including the family's fortune, in the fourth generation. Chronicling the history of Calumet and its fall into the depths of massive debt, this well-researched, fast-paced book sheds new light on the destruction of Calumet and exposes the excesses of the 1980s. Highly recommended.
Susan Hamburger, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

An absorbing account of how Kentucky's Calumet Farm, long thoroughbred racing's paramount breeding stable, came a cropper in the 1990s.

Drawing on interviews with many of the principals and a voluminous public record, Wall Street Journal correspondent Auerbach provides a generation-spanning chronicle that ranges from the legendary stable's founding by a baking-powder magnate during the early years of the century through its sale at auction in 1992. Owned by the Wright family, Calumet bestrode the sport of kings like a colossus, breeding more Triple Crown winners than any of its rivals and setting the pace in a high-stakes enterprise. In mid- 1982, however, Lucille Parker Wright Markey died at 93, and control of the farm passed to a son-in-law, John Thomas (aka J.T.) Lundy, a good-ole-boy local whom the matriarch had treated with all the warmth accorded a poor relation. In piecing together how J.T. managed to bankrupt a prospering institution less than a decade after gaining the whip hand, Auerbach leaves little doubt that he was never up to the job intellectually or psychologically. The arriviste squire of Calumet used his status to wheel and deal on a fast global track during much of the 1980s. Backed by international bankers, Wall Street money men, mobsters (including a couple of John Gotti's capos), and nouveau riche investors clamoring for a piece of the action, he took an early lead in his run for the roses, but changes in federal tax law, overbreeding throughout the industry, a crushing debt burden, and other handicaps brought him down. Lundy's fall put paid to Calumet. An era ended with the dispersal of the farm's bloodstock and the property's acquisition by an outsider.

A sorry tale, well told, that lends new meaning to the phrase "riding for a fall." (8 pages b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Customer Reviews

Highly recommended for a great read, and not just for horse lovers.
William Gibson
Auerbach details the history of Calumet Farm, once America's most famous Kentucky horsefarm.
Mary Forte
Author did a great job of telling this almost unbelieveable story with detail.
Ms. Lynn Ousley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Rorie Sherman on October 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is amazing. Sure it's a fun tale, brilliantly told, of one of the most famous horse farms in history. But it's so much more. It's also a fantastic insight into excess and fraud and how businessmen commit it. Read it for the blood and guts and glory of horse racing. The story of Calumet is wonderful. But hang onto your hats. Auerbach's indepth investigative journalism shows the anatomy of a swindle. How J.T. Lundy, owner of Calumet, and his cohorts turned the most beautiful animals in the world into cash machines. How they debased the tradition of one of the noblest sports. Auerbach is undaunted by the complicated financial shinnegans that these people concocted to billk banks out of millions. In fact, I believe that her reporting is the reason that Lundy wound up getting indicted and convicted. And she tells it in such a compelling way that even someone who can't add 2 plus 2 can see how the rich sometimes get richer at our expense. Read it and weep. But know that in the end, justice was done.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Mary Forte on November 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
Ann Auerback's investigational story is a compelling journey into a rarely discussed aspect of horse racing.
Auerbach details the history of Calumet Farm, once America's most famous Kentucky horsefarm. The author's love of horses is evident in her detailed account of events. It took much courage for Ann Auerbach to uncover and discover the truth about Calumet's fall. It will also take some backbone for Alydar fans and horselovers to read the facts presented.
I read this book for two reasons. I wanted to understand how a farm like Calumet could go from the best to the worst.I also needed to know what happened to Alydar after his racing fans were no longer watching him. Wild Ride answered both of my questions in a methodical and journalistic style.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Highland Bloodstock Co. on April 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Reads like a novel. An interesting peek inside one of the nation's most famous farms. Our copy has made the rounds of our barn many times, each border has read it at least twice. At times "Wild Ride" is sad, almost gut-wrenching, sometimes it can be rather amusing, and other times it reads like a Dick Francis murder mystery. This book belongs on every horseperson's desk. A valuable insight into early Thoroughbred history.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Patten on June 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
There may be a horse on the cover, but this is not a horse racing book. If you want a book that covers the entire history of Calumet - you'll have to keep waiting. This book is primarily about J.T. Lundy and the investments he made that ultimately led to the Alydar tragedy.

Citation - one of the greatest racehorses of all time and easily the greatest horse ever bred at Calumet (no offense to Whirlaway) - gets a whopping paragraph mention.

Many portions of this book get bogged down with discussions of trust funds, banks, liens, etc. If you want to know how not to run a business, this is for you. If you want to know how not to run a horse farm, this is for you. If you are just plain curious in how Calumet went so downhill so fast, this is for you.

If you want to read about horse racing - this book is not for you.

Auerbach seems to grasp the basics of horse racing...but she apparently never actually visited the farm...several times referring to Keeneland (which is directly next door to Calumet) as several miles away...Since she's a Wall Street Journal writer, obviously the business side of everything is extremely sound.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Alison Gibson on June 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
Once again, truth is stranger and more powerful than fiction. In one book, Wild Ride provides a family saga, an industry history, an as yet unsolved murder mystery, a portrait of the greed of the 1980s, and an insight into a world only lived in by a few, coveted by many and musunderstood by most. This saga artfully weaves the history of the Calumet Farm, considered to be among the true dynasties of the fabled Bluegrass area, with the history of thoroughbred horse breeding and racing. Even if the horse racing industry did not interest the reader (but almost everyone at least watches the Kentucky Derby!), the speed in which the power of greed and corruption, along with an amoral attitude can cause an old-line successful business to collapse in a matter of a few years is astounding and compelling reading. Ann Hagedorn Auerbach skillfully takes the reader on a ride through the Bluegrass country, after clearly doing a tremendous amoung of digging into the past and present to off the reader a comprehensive tale that is very, very hard to put down. A great read on multiple levels.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
WILD RIDE, by Ann Hagedorn Auerbach, (New York: Henry Holt, 1994) reads like the murder mystery that it very likely is. Subtitled "The Rise and Tragic Fall of Calumet Farm, Inc., America's Premier Racing Dynasty," the book is the work of a journalist who specializes in reporting about white collar crime. But Auerbach is more than that: she is an admirer of horses also. The tragic hero of WILD RIDE is Alydar, one of the foremost stallions in american racing history, who was euthanized in November, 1990 after breaking a hind leg in his stall. While offering no definitive prrof that Alydarwas intentionally and fatally injured to collect $36.5-million in insurance proceeds, Auerbach examines the incident in extreme detail and weaves the death of the stallion into her exhaustive account of the management of Calumet during the tenure of chief executive officer J.T. Lundy. although the book is currently out of print, the recent reopening of the Alydar investigation may change that. In any case, WILD RIDE would make a marvelous primer for anyone who hopes to follow the course of the current federal probe into the stallion's death.
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