Sunday, June 10, 2012

Book Review: The Kentucky Derby by James Nicholson

Hardcover: 296 pages
Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky (May 5, 2012)

 What James C. Nicholson has done with The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America's Premier Sporting Event is tremendous.  This is a book that took me at least 8 hours to right, give or take a few.  It's a rather quick read and the 296 pages closer to 220 pages when you take out the index and the footnotes.  As a result, this book is as fast as the track at Churchill Downs.

The Kentucky Derby is the most exciting two minutes in sports and the city of Louisville gets the spotlight for the week.  It didn't always use to be this way as Nicholson explains.

The first running in 1875 was ran in front of only 10,000 spectators.  In 1925, WHAS Radio aired the first national broadcast of the race and it would not be until 1949 when the race would be first aired on TV on WAVE-3.  Soon thereafter, the CBS network would air the first leg of the Triple Crown in a national broadcast on television.

The Derby started as a reflection of Old Kentucky and during World War 2, it became the American Institution that we know it as today--only to become larger.  People would travel to Louisville to experience "southern hospitality," as Nicholson writes, but without having to travel into the Deep South.  It's the best of both worlds, he says.

I've only read a few books about horse racing and this is one of the best.  A must read and a must own if you ask me.

Grade A+

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