Racing My Father: Growing Up with a Riding Legend

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9781581501407: Racing My Father: Growing Up with a Riding Legend
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Becoming a steeplechase jockey takes great courage, especially when following in the footsteps of a legendary father. Growing up, Patrick Smithwick idolized his father, A.P. Smithwick, considered the greatest steeplechase jockey in America at the time. In this compelling memoir, Patrick Smithwick recalls how his father's success shaped his own ambitions and dreams. Despite witnessing the pinnacle of the sport, the younger Smithwick started his own journey without a leg up. He mucked stalls and lived in tack rooms, learning the sport from the bottom up. After his father was severely injured in a racing accident, young Patrick did not sway from pursuing his dream. Though he may not have reached the career heights of his father, Patrick Smithwick succeeded in carving his own niche as a top steeplechase rider.

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From the Inside Flap:

Patrick Smithwick has written an unusually moving memoir about growing up in the hell-bent-for-leather world of Thoroughbred racing as the son of Hall of Fame steeplechase jockey A.P. "Paddy" Smithwick. Racing My Father is the story of a son working alongside his father throughout summer mornings, and then hopping in a "hot car," windows up, heater blasting - so his father can sweat off a few more pounds - and driving his father to the track where the races will be held in the afternoon. Paddy Smithwick was a natural. He was a charismatic figure. He was the greatest steeplechase rider in America in the 1950s and '60s, winning all the big races, leading the country in raes won four times, dominating the sport with his style, ability, heart, and gentlemanly demeanor. Patrick Smithwick is also a natural. As a jockey, he won steeplechase races. As a writer, he's won awards. There are hints of the innocence of Huck Finn as Smithwick starts off his account of serving his apprenticeship with his father. The innocence ends when his father is paralyzed in a bad fall. Yet, the youthful Smithwick helps his father work his way back into racing, and the father-son, trainer-rider team ends up in the winner's circle at Saratoga Springs. Smithwick has recreated his own Yoknapatawpha County - with its gritty backsides and polished clubhouses, its knotty characters and sleek racehorses. Racing My Father is not just another "horse" book. It is a fast-paced memoir ranking in the stakes race category with Russell Baker's Growing Up , Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes , Annie Dillard's An American Childhood , and Beryl Markham's West With the Night . Racing My Father is a breathtaking ride over hurdles, with a whipping and driving finish, that catapults the father-son team of Paddy and Patrick Smithwick back into the winner's circle.

About the Author:

Patrick Smithwick has been working with horses all his life. At a very young age he began working with his father, the legendary steeplechase jockey, A.P. Smithwick, who became a trainer after retiring from riding. Smithwick then worked his way through school and college by exercising Thoroughbreds at major East Coast racetracks and riding steeplechase races at such venues as Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course, and hunt meets such as the Maryland Hunt Club and the Grand National. Smithwick received a bachelor of arts from Johns Hopkins University in 1973 followed by a master of arts in creative writing from Hollins College in 1975. After working in the newspaper business for several years, Smithwick began teaching English, philosophy, photography, and journalism at both the high school and collegiate levels. In 1988 he received a master of liberal arts from Johns Hopkins University and in 2000 he received his degree in education for ministry from University of the South. During this time, Smithwick taught as well as held the position of director of publications and public relations at two different schools. He has now turned his two biggest passions into two businesses - riding and training Thoroughbred steeplechase horses and writing. He also gives talks, teaches part-time, and does freelance writing. In addition to Racing My Father , Smithwick has written The Art of Healing: Union Memorial Hospital and Gilman Voices, 1897-1997 . He has also written for many publications including Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred, The Maryland Horse, Horsemen's Journal, and The Chronicle of the Horse . Smithwick resides on the horse farm where he was raised in Monkton, Maryland, with his wife Ansley. They have three children: Paddy, Andrew, and Eliza.

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