Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pg. 99: T.D. Thornton's "Not by a Long Shot"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: T.D. Thornton's Not by a Long Shot: A Season at a Hard Luck Horse Track.

About the book, from the publisher:
A gritty, passionate, behind-the-scenes portrait of a year in the life of Thoroughbred racing's working class, by a racetrack insider

The great myth of horse racing is that the game is the regal and royal Sport of Kings. It isn't. Not by a long shot.

Anyone who doubts this need look no further than Suffolk Downs, a once-proud racecourse graced in its glory years by boisterous throngs and champions such as Seabiscuit. Now the blue-collar East Boston track is one of many that have fallen on hard times. These days "Sufferin' Downs" is where grizzled Thoroughbreds come to end their careers, hopeful young jockeys aspire against daunting odds to begin them, and diehard fans cheer, curse and gamble on the entire fascinating spectacle. These bit players are not just cogs of a single, struggling horse track. They are the unseen supporting cast for a $15 billion betting industry.

In fifteen years as a racing reporter and press box personality, T.D. Thornton gained access to remote corners of racetrack life off limits to the general public. He got to know the raucously Runyonesque characters and the quirky personalities of the horses; he learned the tricks of the trade from trainers, owners, and jockeys; he witnessed the tragedies and small triumphs of racing lives lived below the radar. One recent season, he finally decided to write it all down.

Not by a Long Shot is a deeply textured portrait of an industry where even the best in the business lose 75 percent of the time.
Among the praise for Not by a Long Shot:
"T.D. Thornton's Not By a Long Shot is a richly reported, often elegantly written chronicle of life at an aging racetrack, Sufferin' Downs, as it makes its long, painful descent into history. Filled with a host of racetrack characters, many as memorable as any portrayed in the canon of turf literature, it is a poignant, passionately drawn memoir that is must reading for anybody interested in racing -- or in a tale well told."
--William Nack, author of Secretariat: The Making of a Champion, and Ruffian: A Racetrack Romance

"An unvarnished view of a struggling track in an industry searching for a new identity ... and a detailed, gritty and insightful portrait of all the various characters that make a racetrack go: The grizzled veteran jockey, the crafty horse trainer, the "big-time" owner, the frazzled racetrack executive and many more. As always at the track, there are winners and losers and the reader is drawn in to share the high points and the heartaches. Racing fans will recognize themselves and their friends in the poignant stories that Mr. Thornton relates."
--Charles E. Hayward, President and CEO, The New York Racing Association

"T.D. Thornton's book challenges the myth that horse racing is ‘the regal and royal Sport of Kings'…With a ‘caustically honest' eye Thornton succeeds in illuminating a truer, more realistic side of Thoroughbred racing — like light on a dark horse… Not By a Long Shot is a steed of a book."
Boston Globe

Read an excerpt from Not by a Long Shot and learn more about the book at the publisher's website.

T.D. Thornton has written for several newspapers, most notably the Boston Globe and the national Thoroughbred daily the Racing Times. His work has appeared in an array of literary journals, and he often comments on racing on television and radio.

The Page 99 Test: Not by a Long Shot.

--Marshal Zeringue