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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
An Unlikely Trio: The Winners of the 1913 Kentucky Derby is a nonfiction sports racing history book written by Eddie Price. The horse that won the 39th Running of the Kentucky Derby was a long-shot -- the odds placed on him were, and still are, record-breaking. Donerail was a thoroughbred with a prestigious lineage, but he was skittish, performed poorly in muddy conditions and hadn’t lived up to expectations. His jockey, Roscoe Tarleton Goose, started out riding big draft horses to and from the farriers until his exceptional ability to interact with horses was recognized. Thomas Patrick Hayes, who bred, owned and trained Donerail, was born to impoverished Irish immigrants who settled in Northern Kentucky where they worked their farmlands. Their fortunes changed when the father and son purchased a 300-acre farm in bluegrass country. Hayes and Goose believed Donerail had it in him to be a great racer, but they hadn’t really expected him to win more than the entrance fees -- then he surprised them all.
Eddie Price’s An Unlikely Trio: The Winners of the 1913 Kentucky Derby is a fascinating and fast-paced book that proved to be quite a learning experience. I loved learning more about thoroughbred horses and the three horses, who are the genetic ancestors of the breed, and understanding a bit more about their form and fitness for racing. Price does a marvelous job of tracing the biographical information about Goose and Hayes, and his discussion about the efforts of the states to ban gaming and its effect on horse racing in this country is well-presented and engrossing. His presentation of that 1913 race is mesmerizing, filled with tension, excitement and animation. I had a grand time reading An Unlikely Trio: The Winners of the 1913 Kentucky Derby and most highly recommend it.