Wrong Horse: An Odyssey Through the American Racing Scene

Wrong Horse: An Odyssey Through the American Racing Scene

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by William Murray
     
 

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The highest gambling wisdom is knowing when to quit. El Lobo, however, had scrambled my brains. I was like a man panning for gold in a riverbed who's just found a big nugget and some ass comes along, waving his arms and shouting that the dam upstream is about to burst. Do you get out of the river? Of course not. William Murray is a man of letters and a horseplayer. As… See more details below

Overview

The highest gambling wisdom is knowing when to quit. El Lobo, however, had scrambled my brains. I was like a man panning for gold in a riverbed who's just found a big nugget and some ass comes along, waving his arms and shouting that the dam upstream is about to burst. Do you get out of the river? Of course not. William Murray is a man of letters and a horseplayer. As a regular writer for both The New Yorker and the Daily Racing Form, he is a connoisseur of the bon mot and the sweet two-year-old filly that can go long - and both are plentifully evident in this delightful new book. The Wrong Horse is equal parts memoir and reportage: Here is a portrait of an obsession and of the peculiar world of American Thoroughbred racing, with its unique social mores and colorful characters. Murray, who has been a bettor and an owner, a winner and a loser, at tracks all over America, explores the racing game with the understanding of a savvy insider and the slightly rueful wit of a man who knows it's impossible to find either satisfaction or riches there. But, as one character says, "There's always fresh." That passion for the ponies also runs throughout these pages. While no sure-fire betting formulas are proffered here, no racetrack regular will fail to profit from this up-close look at who won and how they did it, and who lost and how they accomplished that. From the betting window to the backside, here are entertaining and spirited stories of trainers and horses, tracks from the upstarts of California to the blue bloods of the East, jockeys who can pull magic from mediocre mounts, the mixed blessing of being in Louisville during the Kentucky Derby, and the smug calm of holding the winning ticket at thirty to one. The Wrong Horse is William Murray's homage to an oval-shaped path of turf that is sometimes hard and fast. But only sometimes.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
New Yorker writer Murray, who also writes racetrack mysteries ( Tip on a Dead Crab ), here looks at offbeat aspects of the sport: competitions at county fairs, where the horses are generally of a fairly low caliber; the races at Agua Caliente in Tijuana, Mexico, where honesty on the part of owners, trainers and jockeys is far from a sine qua non ; and the problems of holding a winnng ticket, which include ``breakage'' and taxes (the IRS has representatives at the tracks to collect 20% of the big payoffs). Murray, himself a bettor and horse owner, provides such expected coverage as an encomium to jockey Bill Shoemaker, who rode in 40,351 races during his 40-year career. He also, unfortunately, feels constrained to add trite vignettes about the ``characters'' at the track, mostly seedy, unlettered types who spend their lives barely breaking even, in chapters that dig in ground long since brilliantly excavated by Damon Runyon. ( Sept. )

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316591317
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
04/08/1994
Product dimensions:
5.48(w) x 8.21(h) x 0.64(d)

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