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American Pharaoh: The Untold Story of the Triple Crown Winner's Legendary Rise Hardcover – April 26, 2016
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"The fleet-footed American Pharoah: The Untold Story of the Triple Crown Winner's Legendary Rise rides into the winner's circle via effortless prose, well-reported insider details, a compelling human cast of characters - and an irresistible horse: smart, focused and fast."―USA Today, 3 1/2 stars
"The tale [Drape] spins ends up being one that transcends athletics, a story of adolescence and smalltown life. . . . From the opening practice to the Redmen's final game, Drape flawlessly paints a picture of how Smith Center achieves perfection year after year. . . . Drape gives the reader a team worth rooting for."―Publishers Weekly
"American Pharoah is lucky to have Joe Drape. Actually, they're lucky to have each other. No horse has given the preeminent chronicler of 21st century thoroughbreds better material and no other writer could do justice to such a terrific athlete and story. They deserve each other-and anyone who cares about horse racing deserves this book."―Jeremy Schaap, author of Cinderella Man and Triumph
"There is much to admire in this comprehensive and often candid book."
"There is much to savor in the 292 pages...Drape delivers lively accounts of the sport's biggest events and the assorted newsmakers, on and off the track."―Bergen Record
"Drape takes the reader behind the gate for the inside story of American Pharoah's climb, and to the track for every dust-flying, crowd-roaring minute."―Garden and Gun
"Nobody writes about horses like Joe Drape. He takes you around the track, makes you hear the roar, feel the thrill, see the rich, shadowy, behind-the-scenes world so few us really understand. His writing is as effortless as it is necessary. American Pharoah is an epic American classic, a modern-day Seasbiscuit. If you read just one book about horse racing, read this one."―Drew Jubera, author of Must Win: A Season of Survival for a Town and Its Team
"A page-turner .... With his deep knowledge of horse racing, and sharp eye for detail, Drape weaves a compelling narrative from an unlikely cast of characters around an even more unlikely four-legged hero."―National Book Review
From the Inside Flap
History was made on June 6, 2015, when a muscled bay coltrolled out of the far turn and squared his shoulders to let his rider, VictorEspinoza, stare down the long, withering stretch of Belmont Park. A sense ofinevitability surged through the mammoth old grandstand as the fans in thecapacity crowd strained on the tips of their toes before letting out a roarfrom deep in their souls. The 37-year search for a Triple Crown winner wasover. His name was American Pharoah. The colt affirmed the prophecy of FrancesRelihan, an Irish horsewoman who cared for him as a baby in the bluegrass ofKentucky where dreamers and schemers match wits and pedigrees in the pursuit ofbuilding a perfect racehorse. She was the first to recognize the spirit of achampion in him. American Pharoah brought redemption to his flamboyant owner,Ahmed Zayat, whose stable was bankrupt and honor publicly questioned before thecolt come along and restored his fortune and reputation. The rare talent forcedhis Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert take stock of a life and career that wasas notorious for its controversies as his many successes in a way that a recentnear-fatal heart attack and the deaths of his parents had not. Finally, for hisjockey Espinoza, a generous and sensitive soul who perhaps appreciated the coltmost, American Pharoah galloped him into the history books. From AmericanPharoah's modest beginnings in the Bluegrass State to his ultimate triumph inthe Empire State, Joe Drape explores how the battered, old sport of horse racingfound an immortal Thoroughbred, one worthy to stand alongside Sir Barton andAssault, War Admiral and Whirlaway, Citation and Secretariat, as only the 12thTriple Crown champion in history. Drape chronicles how a gifted horse namedAmerican Pharoah dropped in the laps of a group of very human horse people and,as he ran to glory, taught them all humility. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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One of the best things about this book are the references to past horses and races, Drape is so immediate in his descriptions and in this day and age, all of those races are available on Youtube. You can read about a duel and then watch it.
Also, because the book is about last year, some of the campaigners were still around this year--Frosted! Om! And, of course, 'Chrome shows up over and over. But I don't think this is a book for a novice. Partly because of the way it bounces back and forth among topics--Drape first mentions Baffert without any background, if you didn't know who he was, you wouldn't find out until the next chapter. I can understand that trying to weave several stories to make sense would be a challenge but I don't think that Drape quite solved it. I knew what he was writing about and even I shook my head now and then and reordered paragraphs. It's no good faulting a book that is focused on a thing, in this case, the Triple Crown, but the Breeders Cup gets lost a bit. But by 2015, the BC races are huge; the purses are huge, winning a BC race is huge, just ask Arrogate. Saying Point Given can never be considered a "great" race horse because he didn't win the K Derby. POINT GIVEN "2001 Eclipse Champion 3 YO Colt & Horse of the Year.Only horse in history to have won four $1m races in a row: the Preakness, the Belmont, the Haskell Invitational and the Travers." What does Drape want?
But it's a fun book and I'm glad I'm reading it; it's just a little crazy.
Certainly California Chrome's outspoken owner, Steve Coburn thought so, when his own horse staggered home fourth down Big Sandy's long and unforgiving stretch. "I'll never see, and I'm 61 years old, another Triple Crown winner in my lifetime because of the way they do this," said Coburn. "It's not fair to these horses that have been in the game since day one."
The very next year, American Pharoah turned three and proved Coburn to be a false prophet.
Reading Joe Drape's "American Pharoah" is the next best thing to watching the bay horse with the chewed-up tail run. This book reflects both the brilliance and the dark side of the Thoroughbred and its human interface, and American Pharoah was surrounded by some pretty interesting humans. Joe Drape dishes out the good, the bad, and the ugly, most especially concerning his mercurial owner, Ahmed Zayat and his trainer, Bob Baffert. His jockey, Victor Espinoza has one of the more heart-warming biographies in this book.
There are signs that this book was hurried into print --a few misspellings (it's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe) and a over-reliance on religious metaphors. However, I enjoyed the inside story of American Pharoah's rise to glory and Joe Drape is one of the best writers in this crazy, heart-breaking, glorious business, so I'm glad he was first into print about our 12th Triple Crown winner. Maybe we'll have another decade like the 70's or maybe American Pharoah will be the last Triple Crown winner in my lifetime. Either way, I think you'll want to read this tribute to a great Thoroughbred.
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