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

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

by Elizabeth Mitchell

Paperback(2002 First Edition)

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Now in paperback, reporter Elizabeth Mitchell introduces her readers to the mysterious, mercurial world of horse racing in a book that's as fast-paced and colorful as a day at the track. Focusing on the 1999 Derby winner Charismatic, Mitchell traces this horse's amazing and ultimately tragic story, from the birth of a foal through its surprising rise to fame. Mitchell also follows the major players in Charismatic's life, including the family who bred him, the trainer, the owners, and the famed jockey Chris Antley, whose own story is more tragic than that of his horse. Through these interlocking stories a sense of familiarity with the 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786886227
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 04/16/2003
Edition description: 2002 First Edition
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 774,519
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.93(d)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Elizabeth Mitchell is the author of W: Revenge of the Bush Dynasty. She was formerly the executive editor of George magazine and features editor of SPIN magazine. She lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

1Dream Trip1
2Dark Horse9
3Bug Boy46
4Lucky Fellow73
5The Ant98
6Morning Glory128
7The Hotbox158
8The Big Gamble187
9Kentucky Derby197
10The Devil's Picture Books221
11The Preakness239
13The Belmont275
14The Longest Odds302
15Falling Off318
16The Wire346

What People are Saying About This

Barry Hannah

“[One of the heroes of this book] was a classy friend of mine. He sent me flowers on the day he died. How could Ms. Mitchell have survived her grief without him and written this precise and lyrical book about horses and humans? It is a wonder, a testament to the work of an angel on her shoulder.
— Author of Airships and Yonder Stands Your Orphan

Norman Mailer

I did not know much about horse racing until I read Three Strides Before the Wire. Now, I’ve learned a good bit about the front and the back of the sport, and had all the pleasure en route of reading a novel and well-written book.

Sam Lipsyte

If Chris Antley was the perfect rider for Charismatic, Elizabeth Mitchell is the perfect teller of this sad and thrilling story. You won’t find cheap redemption in these pages, or hackneyed life lessons from the track. This is a passionate, sometimes scary book about living and dying and loving and the odds against us doing any of them the way we thought we would.
— Author of The Subject Steve

Phillip Lopate

Mitchell has done a superb job reporting, giving us wonderfully privileged glimpses of a closed world. Adorned by a lucid, elegantly spare, nuanced prose style, this book conveys the romance and harsh pathos of the sport of kings, even to non-enthusiasts.


Elizabeth Mitchell takes us on an unblinkered ride through horse country and comes out a winner. Three Strides Before the Wire trails the champion Charismatic from long shot to roses, and, along the way, details a sport driven by varying measures of dreams and disappointment, love found and love lost. It’s a world of deep shadows and odd, often disturbing echoes, where the only sure bet involves the heart. Don’t go to the track without reading this book.
— Author of Drums Along the Congo

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