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Horse of a Different Color: A Tale of Breeding Geniuses, Dominant Females, and the Fastest Derby Winner Since Secretariat Hardcover – April 2, 2002

4.0 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The breeder of the 2001 Kentucky Derby winner, Squires was previously the editor of the Chicago Tribune, whose staff won seven Pulitzers in eight years. But when he was terminated in a management shake-up, he decided to take his horse hobby to the next level. For 20 years his avocation had been raising reining horses, cutting horses, and jumpers. When he made breeding thoroughbred racehorses his second career, no one, himself included, believed that he could make a living at such a risk-filled business. However, using some of the same skills he had used as an editor a willingness to take risks, an ability to analyze a situation by separating fact from emotion, and maintaining a sense of humor Squires was able not only to make a living at breeding racehorses but to breed a horse whose speed in the Kentucky Derby was second only to Secretariat's. His story of this success is fast paced and fun to read. It will appeal not only to horseracing fans but also to people making midlife career changes. Readers who liked Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit and Joe Drape's Race for the Triple Crown will appreciate this book. Recommended for public libraries and libraries with racing collections. Patsy E. Gray, Huntsville P.L., AL
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

After a career in journalism that ended with his dismissal as the editor of the Chicago Tribune, Squires and his wife, known here as "the dominant female," decided to indulge their passion. They sunk their savings into a thoroughbred farm in Kentucky's bluegrass country and set out to breed good horses, thereby becoming among the biggest risk takers in a gambling game. For Squires, the risk was rewarded when he mated a modest mare with an unproven stallion and came up with Monarchos, the hero of last year's Kentucky Derby. Mixing the pride of a parent with a self-deprecating humor, Squires makes Monarchos' dramatic ascent to the pinnacle of his sport a ride we can share, just as he did. It's a ride most racing fans won't want to miss. Dennis Dodge
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1st edition (April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586481177
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586481179
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,315,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The breeder of Derby winner Monarchos writes of his second career as a Kentucky horseman and his improbable luck in quickly breeding a super horse. In the course of the book we learn a little about the author, lots about the business of horse breeding and meet some of the big players in the industry.
Comparisons to the recent book about Seabiscuit (which is better) are unavoidable and probably unfair. "Horse of a Different Color" covers a different territory and is as much about a business as a single horse.
The book has a few faults. At times, Squires gets stuck in arcane detail that interrupts the flow of the narrative. Also, his device of referring to himself in the third person(e.g. "the breeder" or "the genius") and his wife as "the dominant female" are at first wierd and then become tedious. They are odd mis-steps for an ex-newspaper editor to make.
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By A Customer on March 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
While reading the book I really struggled to stay interested in the story line. I was finding nuggets of information in the thoroughbred industry that sparked my interest, and when I ponder back on what I learned I would give the book rave reviews because it did capture a lot of detail that could easily be skipped over. But there was a lot of the story line that had me wishing the book would end early.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Readers of "Horse of a Different Color" will soon realize that all people who raise, train, or race Thoroughbreds are a bit eccentric by non-horse-lover standards, especially if they own or have bred a three-year-old with the potential to run in the Kentucky Derby. Incidentally, this is a great book to read during the annual run-up to the Derby. It will give you an idea of the day-by-day agony and ecstasy of owning one of these good colts or fillies. Pity the poor owners and trainers who bring their special race horse right up to the first Saturday in May and then have to scratch him due to injury.

One of the dominant themes of Squires' book, is 'us versus them'-- the struggle for dominance on the race track and in the breeding shed between traditional Kentucky hardboots and slick California-based trainers, the Irish, the oil Sheiks, and the Japanese. All of these men and women, no matter what the state of their cash flow have been infected by the same disease. It's called Derby Fever.

Squires himself was one of the bottom-feeders of the Thoroughbred business. He and his wife (referred to as 'the dominant female' throughout this book) owned a small Thoroughbred breeding farm in Lexington, Kentucky called Two Bucks, that they had acquired after he was fired from his job as editor of the 'Chicago Tribune.'

Squires' journey to the Kentucky Derby begins when he buys the good-looking but underachieving Regal Band for $14,000 and breeds her to a young stallion in his first season at stud. The stallion was Maria's Mon, who began his career in the breeding shed for the trifling sum of $7,500, but sired a Kentucky Derby winner in his first crop.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a lifelong devotee of the horse, and particularly the Thoroughbred, I've read more than a few horse books. Few have delighted me as much as has this treasure by Jim Squires. My only complaint is that it wasn't at least 1000 pages long (and even then I'd probably wish it was longer). What makes this book so delicious is the writer's horse-savvy coupled with his sharp wit and good writing, and obvious love for his horses. More than just telling the tale of how one particular colt brought home the roses, it's about the whole, encompassing experience through the eyes, heart and pen of a knowledgable and articulate person. "Seabiscuit" was excellent and I enjoyed every word. "My Racing Heart" was expressive and also a pleasure to read. "Horse of a Different Color" stands above these, on a par with the unforgettable Joe Palmer and "This Was Racing." It's got a permanent home in my library, as will any future book Squires might write about equines (and I certainly hope he does).
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Format: Hardcover
Jim Squires is a pompous [man]. His wife, the "dominant female", seems highly neurotic. Fortunately, the book has some interesting information about the thoroughbred breeding industry. If you follow the Triple Crown, check it out. But beware! Jim's self-indulgent ranting takes up a lot of pages. The guy refers to himself as a "breeding genius." He bred a Derby winner, so maybe he is a genius? Then, however, he uses the term "breeding genius" ironically, meaning that he is not a genius but other people have suggested that he is one. So, Jim, which is it? Jim thinks he is a genius, and not just a "breeding genius", but a genius period. He should have just come out and said he is a genius, without irony, on page one, or written a modest book. You know when a non-fiction writer pens a book in third person about himself that there are going to be problems. The book is not a disaster, though. It's just that Jim is at his best when writing about others and at his worst when writing about himself. Jim tells us that his "prize possession" is a painting of himself on one of his horses. There you go. I wish there was an annotated version of this book that just concentrated on breeding horses and not on, listen to this:
"The familiar ticking in his brain was surely the clock running again on that fifteen minutes in the spotlight everyone was supposed to get in life. Whose allotted quarter hour was he usurping now? His own had come and gone long ago and he kept exhausting time rightfully belonging to others. Maybe the spotlight kept returning because he never acknowledged it as his own." (page 201)
Hmm. You see what I mean? Phony modesty! Yuck! Again, though, much of the book is good horse writing. It's sort of like Jim Carey starring in The Majestic, you know? Jim, stick with what you're good at!
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