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The Horse God Built: The Untold Story of Secretariat, the World's Greatest Racehorse Paperback – June 10, 2008
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
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“Scanlan is a compassionate reporter ... the author is an amiable companion on the road.” ―Bill Barich , The New York Times
“...this volume bulges with insight into and sensitivity toward the world of Thoroughbred horse racing.... Scanlan's scope is encyclopedic.” ―Publishers Weekly
“The author's tribute is heartfelt, and Sweat is a worthy subject.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Scanlan makes a convincing case.” ―Booklist
From the Inside Flap
"He was the perfect horse, it was said, "the horse God built.""
Most of us know the legend of Secretariat, the tall, handsome chestnut racehorse whose string of honors runs long and rich: the only two-year-old ever to win Horse of the Year, in 1972; winner in 1973 of the Triple Crown, his times in all three races still unsurpassed; featured on the cover of" Time, Newsweek," and" Sports Illustrated;" the only horse listed on ESPN's top fifty athletes of the twentieth century (ahead of Mickey Mantle). His final race at Toronto's Woodbine Racetrack is a touchstone memory for horse lovers everywhere. Yet while Secretariat will be remembered forever, one man, Eddie "Shorty" Sweat, who was pivotal to the great horse's success, has been all but forgotten---until now.
In" The Horse God Built," bestselling equestrian writer Lawrence Scanlan has written a tribute to an exceptional man that is also a backroads journey to a corner of the racing world rarely visited. As a young black man growing up in South Carolina, Eddie Sweat struggled at several occupations before settling on the job he was born for---groom to North America's finest racehorses. As Secretariat's groom, loyal friend, and protector, Eddie understood the horse far better than anyone else. A wildly generous man who could read a horse with his eyes, he shared in little of the financial success or glamour of Secretariat's wins on the track, but won the heart of Big Red with his soft words and relentless devotion.
In Scanlan's rich narrative, we get a groom's-eye view of the racing world and the vantage of a man who spent every possible moment with the horse he loved, yet who often basked in the horse's glory from thesidelines. More than anything else," The Horse God Built "is a moving portrait of the powerful bond between human and horse.
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This has whetted my appetite to read more about Secretariat (which I thought I knew already but so many more to learn) This books pulled a lot of emotion from me and I appreciated the author's desire to not only tell a story of Secretariat but of the unknown, seldom celebrated story of a man almost lost to the pages of time, Eddie Sweat...Secretariat's groom during the glory years. What a beautiful picture which has been painted by Mr. Scanlan of that man who loved "his" horse. Mr. Scanlan is a horse owner also and he states his desire to become a better horseman because of what he learned about the devotion of Mr. "Shorty" Sweat to "the Horse God Built."
I was 18 the year Secretariat won the Triple Crown; I would be graduating HS in a few weeks. Too busy with my own horse in the way of any horse-crazy girl who lives and breathes the equine, I did not follow Thoroughbred racing though I could tell you, loving all things HORSE, the Triple Crown winners and the year they won. I owned a quarter horse named Barzal Bravo ("Bozo" for short) with thoroughbred racing blood making up half his pedigree. Helping my horse-centered world along, my family lived in the same equestrian subdivision as several of the Los Alamitos Race Course trainers and their "lay off" horses. I was often at those early morning workouts at the track with my horsey girlfriends; ethereal moments about which the author writes. My bedroom walls were covered with the daily race results from Los AL. Because I did not have access to much money on my own and most of what I did earn went to support my own horse's upkeep, I did not buy magazines or books to read and thus knew very littleabout this new "Big Red"...plus, I was a Man O' War purist in my heart. However, everyone had heard of Secretariat and I became a believer after watching him win the Derby and Preakness. As the day of the Belmont arrived, my parents had taken us camping. I only agreed to go if my dad made sure we had a working TV to watch the race. As Secretariat rounded the last turn pulling away, my emotions spilled out. As an equine artist, I appreciate the beauty of the horse and this was a thing of beauty...and history. I knew I was watching it being made right in front of me! I screamed! I jumped up in the air. Then as Big Red swept toward the finish line with the cameras struggling to even show the other horses in the race, I laid on the floor and wept like a baby.
To this day I cannot watch that race without those emotions welling up inside me and weeping outloud...for the beauty, that wonderful horse, the history, his death and my youth long gone but remembered for a shining moment. Much like other transcendent moments in history when one can remember where theybwere or what they were doing, I
Well worth the read, this book makes a very compelling argument for the respectful treatment of the horses we encounter and the people entrusted with their care and even more, their well-being.
I highly recommend this story.
By the way, if you want to get a sense of what Eddie was like, you can find a video of him with Riva Ridge on YouTube. It's only about five minutes long, but it's wonderful. Search Riva Ridge and Keeneland.
It is often rambling and frequently repetive. Poor quality of photographs doesn't help.
I expected to find more anecdotes about the horse's day to day, maybe collected and shared by his special groom, Eddie Sweat, and others from shed row.
Indeed, I've read a about a few examples of the Big Red's antics that aren't included here.
There was too much about Eddie's family circumstances, on whether or not he received his due financially, too much about other famous horses, etc. Too much about the man, too little about the horse.
daughter. What a good book.