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In the interest of full disclosure, I feel compelled to mention that I am a Thoroughbred racing enthusiast and a supporter of the Thoroughbred industry. I do this to alert the reader to a potential for bias, and to claim a small amount of firsthand knowledge of the sport of Thoroughbred racing that supplements my research for this project. I grew up on a Thoroughbred farm in Lexington, Kentucky, that was founded by my maternal grandfather in 1956. The farm was sold to Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al Maktoum, arguably the most powerful Thoroughbred owner of modern times, in 2001. I worked on the farm in the summers and some evenings and weekends during the school year from 1993 until its sale. I spent most of my time as a part of the maintenance crew; my responsibilities included mowing grass, repairing fences, baling hay, tending cattle, collecting garbage, and myriad other labor-intensive tasks upon which I look back ever more fondly with each passing year. I was also involved in some preparation of yearling horses for sale, and worked as groom at a few auctions , brushing horses and cleaning stalls, as I got older. My wife’s family is active in Thoroughbred racing and breeding, and many of my extended family members make their Preface xix Preface xx living in and around the Thoroughbred industry. In addition to my time on the family farm, my own work experience has included stints at an equine auction company, in a Thoroughbred advertising agency, in a horse insurance agency, and with a racehorse trainer. I have watched the Kentucky Derby from practically every vantage point possible in Churchill Downs. I have witnessed the race while seated in a clubhouse box dressed in a suit and tie, and I have seen it standing amid the multitudes in the infield wearing no shirt at all. I have been seated at the starting gate and at the finish line. I have watched televised coverage of the Derby from other racetracks and from various living rooms, sometimes in the company of lifelong Kentuckians and sometimes with fascinated outlanders. My earliest Derby memory is 1984, when my parents, who were traveling to Louisville that day, introduced my sister, a babysitter , and me to an old Derby party tradition of cutting up a Derby program’s list of starters and placing all the names in a hat, to be drawn blindly before the race. This was in the days before color ink was used for race day programs, so a dark green page for the big race in an otherwise black-and-white program underscored the significance of the Derby. Claiborne Farm’s dark bay colt Swale was the winner that day, under the guidance of jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. I suspect that I did not draw Swale’s name in our prerace ceremony, as my recollections do not include who won the prize; had I been the winner, I believe that a memory of triumph would have stayed with me. I mention my first Derby memory to establish the point after which my historical objectivity might diminish. My analysis of more recent Derbies has inescapably been filtered through my own personal experiences and observations. ...


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