ABR’s Favorite Horse Books for National Book Day

Pop Culture
Humans aren’t the only ones who enjoy reading (Wikimedia Commons/dregsplod)

The team at America’s Best Racing loves to read, so what better way to celebrate National Book Day than by sharing our recommendations for books about horses. From novels to betting guides and everything in between, see our picks to put on your wishlist.

Mike Curry:

The Kid: The Inside Story of Steve Cauthen's Spectacular Ride to Stardom by Pete. Axthelm

Pete Axthelm's biography of Steve Cauthen explores the rise of a prodigy who, with the support of a loving, humble family, avoided the pitfalls of stardom to become a Hall of Fame jockey and a great person.

Tesio: In His Own Words by Federico Tesio

This is a must-read for pedigree enthusiasts and really anyone fascinated by genetics. While it can be a little dry at times, the book takes you inside the mind of a master in the exploration of the breeding theories of Federico Tesio.

Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand

Simply the best. For my money, Laura Hillenbrand wrote the most compelling horse racing book of her generation. Hillenbrand’s incredible story telling mixed with attention to detail make this a can’t miss book on one of horse-racing's most beloved superstars.

Melissa Bauer-Herzog:

Stable Lass: Tales from a Yorkshire Racing Yard by Gemma Hogg

Gemma Hogg tells her story of working in a racing yard in England. It's an outstanding read that takes you behind the scenes and has it all from laughs to serious tales from her life in racing

Horsetrader: Robert Sangster and the Rise and Fall of the Sport of Kings by Patrick & Nick Robinson

Not always the easiest book to find for an inexpensive price, this book on Robert Sangster and Coolmore Stud is a must-read if you do get your hands on it (luckily Amazon has a few copies for around $40 right now). Horsetrader: Robert Sangster and the Rise and Fall of the Sport of Kings is about the horse racing and the commercial market in the 1970s and 80s and has a lot of information about the strategy behind the development of the operation that stands both American Pharoah and Justify.

Northern Dancer: The Legend And His Legacy by Muriel Lennox

The legendary Northern Dancer is one of the few Kentucky Derby winners more known for his exploits off the track than on them. I loved getting to know the story behind the horse that can safely be called one of the best sires of the modern era.

Dan Tordjman:

Not By A Long Shot by T.D. Thornton

There isn’t another acing book that captures more vividly the moments and personalities that have always made the racetrack such a unique experience. The stories told in the book are all from recently closed Suffolk Downs, making it a pretty timely read too.

Beyer on Speed by Andrew Beyer

Contrary to what newbies might deduce from the title, this isn’t a book about the ramblings of an author under the influence of an excessive amount of stimulants. This was one in a series of books that laid the foundation for how many horseplayers - bettors, including myself - go about analyzing and wagering on races.

South Bound by Jason Beem

By now, you’ve got me pegged. I’ve always been fascinated by betting and the stories of gamblers. This is a recent classic that touches on so many of those familiar situations that bettors find themselves in at the track.

Penelope Miller:

Other People's Horses by Natalie Keller Reinert

I’m a fiction fan, and Natalie Keller Reinert captures the triumph and heartbreak of making a living with racehorses perfectly. While this book is the second in a series, it also works as a standalone novel ranging from the horse country of Ocala, Florida to the racing season in Saratoga Springs, New York. If you’re looking for a fun (but not frivolous) read, I highly recommend this book.

The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, The Horse That Inspired a Nation by Elizabeth Letts

This is the true story of Snowman, a horse who was rescued off of a slaughter truck for $80 who turned into one of the most legendary show jumpers of all time. While not a racing book (Snowman was of uncertain heritage, but it’s thought that he was a cross of Quarter Horse, Morgan, and various draft horses) it’s a wonderful true story of the bond between horse and human, and it’s very much worth a read.

Secretariat by William Nack

If you ask strangers on the street to name a racehorse, there’s a pretty good chance that their first answer will be Secretariat. This book tells the story of the superhorse who captured the American zeitgeist, and it’s a must-read for any horse lover who wants to know more about the unforgettable Big Red.

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