Three Strides Before the Wire: The Dark and Beautiful World of Horse Racing

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9780786867233: Three Strides Before the Wire: The Dark and Beautiful World of Horse Racing
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In this meticulously researched and poignantly written narrative, Elizabeth Mitchell goes behind the scenes of one of the largest moneymaking industries in the country: horse racing. Focusing on the 1999 Derby winner Charismatic, Mitchell traces this horses amazing and ultimately tragic story, from the birth of the foal through its surprising rise to fame to its tragic death. Mitchell also follows the major players in Charismatics life, including the family who bred him, the trainer, the owners, and the famed jockey Chris Antley, whose own tragic story matches that of his horse. Through these interlocking stories, a sense of familiarity with key players in the industry evolves, as well as a greater understanding of the heart and soul of a sport that has fascinated human beings for centuries.

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Review:

The day of the 20th century's final Kentucky Derby was perfectly brilliant, with a clear blue sky and pleasant, intoxicating heat. More magical than the weather, though, were the moments the Derby synthesized: the surprise victory of underdogs Charismatic and Chris Antley, and an unexpected love of racing for author Elizabeth Mitchell and her cancer-stricken companion, Chuck. The inspiration for Mitchell's engrossing Three Strides Before the Wire lies in those moments, when the couple's world was suddenly buoyed by the spectacular comeback of the talented but tormented jockey and the "tubby" chestnut saddled with the third-worst odds of any winner in Derby history.

Newly awakened to the mysterious forces at play in the sport of thoroughbred racing, journalist Mitchell retraces Charismatic's ascension from a well-bred underachiever draining his owners' bank account to a legitimate contender for the 1999 Triple Crown, a trajectory that ended with injury at the Belmont Stakes. Such a tale in horseracing is not without its personalities, and Mitchell deftly portrays the tough-as-nails trainer D. Wayne Lukas, the impassioned owners Bob and Beverly Lewis, and the gifted but drug-addled Antley, who felt an affinity for the stout colt because the first six letters of his name spelled "Chris A." Three Strides Before the Wire skillfully grafts history and anecdote in a rich narrative revealing both the pure glory and tough-luck hardships of thoroughbred racing, casting compassionate light on Antley's jagged path of fantastic success, drug abuse, and depression. Mitchell's astute observations of the industry's miraculous but destructive elements and the irresistible trickery of chance--which delighted her and Chuck that poignant day at the Derby--coalesce in an engaging, heart-wrenching read. --Rebecca Robinson

About the Author:

Elizabeth Mitchell is the author of W: Revenge of the Bush Dynasty. For three years she was executive editor of George magazine, and she is currently a contributing editor for Newsweek. She lives in New York City.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780786886227: Three Strides Before the Wire: The Dark and Beautiful World of Horse Racing

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ISBN 10:  0786886226 ISBN 13:  9780786886227
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9781840187175: Three Strides Before The Wire: The Dark and Beautiful World of Horse Racing

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