Well, for the second year, I have a novel up for the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award!
I couldn’t be more proud of Turning For Home, the fourth novel in the Alex and Alexander series. Set in horse racing like the other novels in the series, Turning For Home deals more with retirement issues, including the dangers that rabid animal-rights activists can pose for horse owners, whether they’re guilty of horse abuse or not. The book features some racing, but it looks more at retraining an off-track Thoroughbred, and even features a Most Wanted Thoroughbred-style competition.
Because of these themes, I wasn’t really sure how the award judges would view Turning For Home. Would it be too horse-show oriented for a racing panel? Would they see the animal-rights activists as a little too negative for a prize meant to celebrate horse racing?
I was thrilled to bits to see that I was wrong. Here’s what the press release says about Turning For Home:
This year’s second novel, Turning for Home touches upon a currently red-hot topic: re-training ex-racehorses. Author Reinert was a semi-finalist in 2014 with Other People’s Horses. In Turning for Home a Thoroughbred once schooled by protagonist Alex is found starving, and though she is faultless, Alex becomes a target of animal rights activists. The story follows her leave of absence from racing to re-school the horse for a new career … and to fight for her own reputation.
So, a semi-finalist once again — I couldn’t ask for more, really. I’m so excited at the way responsible racehorse retirement has become a front-and-central issue being addressed across the equestrian industry, from sport horse trainers to racehorse breeders, and everyone the horse will meet in between. When I started writing Retired Racehorse Blog more than six years ago, this big wave was a little ripple. Well, keep splashing, people!
The rest of the semi-finalist list is really, really good this year, including a novel called If Wishes Were Horses, a book on jockey craft and a book on jockey heroes, and a documentary-style book collecting stories from racetracks across the country. This is a “I’m just happy to be nominated” moment, for sure. You can see the rest of the list here at Paulick Report.
In other news, I went to the Tampa Bay Derby on Saturday, March 12. I cried the first time the horses went by the clubhouse. Yes, it’s been a very long time since I went to the races. The next time I pick days off, I’m choosing days that are good for racing at Tampa. Monday/Tuesday are terrible days off if you want to go enjoy some pony-time. Here’s champion Tepin having a moment in the paddock, right before she set a track record in the Hillsborough Stakes:
We made sure we were at the paddock just where she’d be walking and she did not disappoint. There was an ardent fan a few feet away from us who kept calling her “The Queen.” I read a line in a historical novel once, something like “the English love their queens.” You could say the same of us in horse racing: we love a good colt but man oh man do we love our fillies and mares.
Here’s another typical racing scene I had to capture. The hoses for spraying down the horses after the race are right in front of the clubhouse area at Tampa, so you can listen to the grooms and admire the horses while the winner is being photographed off in the winner’s circle:
I haven’t been paying much attention to the Triple Crown prep this year, with so much work on my plate, and I can’t even remember who won the Tampa Bay Derby — awful, I know! But I think a lot of us came away thinking more of the commanding style of Tepin winning the Hillsborough more than anything. When you see an Eclipse Award-winning mare come out and pound out a track record, it tends to put three-year-old colts in perspective. You’re still just little boys, my friends. But your time will come!
That’s all for now. Have you read any of the other book award nominees? Which one’s your pick for the big win?