After months of reading, evaluating, and
scoring, judges have selected three outstanding books as finalists By
Mary Simon (Courtesy of The Thoroughbred Times)
The late Dr.
Tony Ryan was a visionary with broad interests and a man who knew how to
get things done, be it in business, education, the arts, or horse
racing. In 1985, the Irish entrepreneur launched the successful
low-fare European airline Ryanair; less than a decade later, he funded
the cutting-edge Marine Science Institute at the National University of
Ireland; and in 2001, he brought Thoroughbreds back to James R. Keene's
historic Kentucky-based Castleton Farm-now Castleton Lyons-for the first
time in nearly a century.
Five years ago, Ryan wedded his
interest in the arts and racing when he masterminded an important
literary award. He conceived the idea of promoting the sport of kings
by recognizing the best racing-related books published in a given year,
and proposed to do so in a breathtaking way: His offer of a $10,000
winner's prize rivaled those of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer
Soon after, Ryan enlisted THOROUGHBRED TIMES as a
promotional partner and coordinator in what would initially be known as
the Castleton Lyons-THOROUGHBRED TIMES Book Award. In April 2007,
inaugural honors went to New York Times sportswriter Joe Drape, for
Black Maestro, a biography of early 20th-century African-American jockey
Jimmy Winkfield. Following Ryan's death in 2007, the competition was
renamed to honor his memory. Now in its fourth year, the Dr. Tony Ryan
Book Award continues under the stewardship of his son, Shane.
would no doubt have approved of the current finalists--three
exceptional, very different works, each representing the apex of
racing-genre books published in 2009. Full of heart, humor, and a deep
respect for the sport's storied past, as well as an abiding love for the
animals and people who power its engine, they include a
compassionatelook at what it takes to save an ex-racehorse; a lively
jaunt through the life of a true man for all seasons; and a stunning
tribute to one of America's premier sporting events.
will be present for a book signing at Keeneland Race Course on the
afternoon of April 23. That evening, an invitation-only cocktail and
hors d'oeuvres reception announcing the winner will once again be held
at Castleton Lyons, outside of Lexington, in the loft above the famed
barn where such long-ago immortals Domino, Commando, and Peter Pan once
The winner will receive a check for $10,000 and a
trophy made of custom-designed Irish crystal, a replica of the
magnificent fieldstone tower Ryan had erected on the property in 2003.
Runners-up will each receive $1,000 and a trophy.
The 2009 Dr.
Tony Ryan Book Award Finalists:
Beyond the Homestretch: What I've Learned from Saving
Racehorses Author: Lynn Reardon Publisher:
New World Library
Ted Bassett: My Life Authors:
James E. "Ted" Bassett III and Bill Mooney Publisher: The University
Press of Kentucky
Kentucky Derby Vault: A History of the Run for the Roses Author: Andrew Plattner Publisher: Whitman
Judges Rudolph Valier Alvarado, Ph.D. Dr. Rudolph
Valier Alvarado earned a Ph.D. in fine arts from Texas Tech University
and a Master of Arts in history from Eastern Michigan Univeristy, where
he was a University Fellow and a Parks/King/Chavez Fellow.
Alvarado's books have ben published by the
University of Michigan Press, Michigan State University Press, Texas
A&M University Press, Alpha Books of New York, and Arte Publico
Alvarado currently serves as chief executive officer and
publisher of Caballo Press of Ann Arbor.
Alvarado's biography, The Untold Story of Joe Hernandez: The Voice
of Santa Anita, won the 2008 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award presented
by Castleton Lyons and THOROUGHBRED TIMES.
Kay Coyte Kay Coyte, of Arlington, Virginia,
is an Eclipse and American Horse Publications award-winning
photographer and former editor and publisher of The Horsemen's Journal Thoroughbred
racing magazine. She has been with the Washington Post as an editor
since 1982, currently with the Washington Post-Bloomberg News Service. Earlier
in her career, she covered racing for The Saratogian newspaper in Saratoga Springs,
New York, and her freelance articles have appeared in several racing and
In recent years, she has served as a judge
for both the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award and for the American Horse
Publications' feature writing competition.
She grew up in
Louisville, where her father was a longtime executive at Churchill
Downs, and graduated from the University of Kentucky, working with
racehorses and prepping yearlings in her spare time. She is horseless
now but has owned two in her life so far-both Appaloosas.
also is a board member for Focus, a not-for-profit group in the
Washington, D.C., area that presents acoustic music concerts. Coyte is
the emcee of Focus' Alexandria, Virginia, venue.
Mary Simon Mary Simon, a contributing editor for
THOROUGHBRED TIMES, has won an Eclipse Award and American Horse
Publications awards for feature writing. She is the author of the books
A History of the
Thoroughbed in California and Racing Through the Century, the latter based on
her 2000 Eclipse Award-winning THOROUGHBRED TIMES series.
addition, Simon has written for The Thoroughbred Record, Spur, Thoroughbred Business,
and Breeders' Cup
magazines, as well as for Daily Racing Form. She has also done advertising
copywriting and has scripted videos for the California Thoroughbred
Breeders' Association (A Running Start), the Ryan Family Foundation (Quality of Life),
and THOROUGHBRED TIMES (A History of the Triple Crown).
Simon grew up in
California, where she rode show jumpers and later served as associate
editor of The
Thoroughbred of California magazine. In Kentucky, she has worked
as a publicity assistant at Keeneland Race Course, a stallion booking
manager at Beaconsfield Farm, and as a freelance writer. She is
currently a member of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame's
Historic Review Committee.
Outside of the Thoroughbred Industry,
Simon received a degree in social work from the University of Kentucky.
Simon is married to THOROUGHBRED TIMES President and Editor Mark Simon.