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Long-time Thoroughbred industry leader James E. "Ted” Bassett and two-time Eclipse Award-winning Turf writer Bill Mooney have been awarded first prize in the fourth annual Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, presented by the Castleton Lyons farm and THOROUGHBRED TIMES, during a reception on Friday evening at Castleton Lyons near Lexington.

The pair won for their collaborative effort on the 2009 autobiography Keeneland’s Ted Bassett: My Life, published by The University Press of Kentucky.

Bassett has been a high-profile member of the racing community for more than 40 years, most of that time as president, board chairman, and trustee at fabled Keeneland Race Course in Lexington. With wit, grace, and personal insight, the winning book chronicles his life from school boy, Yale University graduate, and U.S. Marine, to a stint as director of the Kentucky State Police, and finally, through his years as one of Thoroughbred racing’s best-known and respected ambassadors.
Renamed last year for the late founder of Castleton Lyons who created the prize in 2006 to reward book-length literary excellence, the award is presented annually for the best work published about an aspect of Thoroughbred racing. Bassett and Mooney received a $10,000 prize as well as a trophy made of custom-designed Irish crystal.

"This was a great adventure,” Bassett said. "It was a combination of fear and exhilaration. Fear that you’re going to fail and that nobody would ever open the book; exhilaration at the end that we actually finished it and had an amazing response like this.”

"I have never worked on a professional project that I have devoted myself more to and I have never worked on a professional project that I have wanted to do more than this,” Mooney said.

"Anyone who loves horse racing would love this book,” said judge Kay Coyte, a Washington Post editor and an Eclipse Award winner. "Because of Bassett’s interesting early career, his love of people and horses, and his more recent world travels, there’s more than enough adventure to hold the attention of even the most casual reader. The addition of co-author Bill Mooney was like a fine wine paired with a gourmet dinner.”
Other finalists for 2009 were Beyond the Homestretch—What I’ve Learned from Saving Racehorses, by Lynn Reardon (Publisher: New World Library), and The Kentucky Derby Vault: A History of the Run for the Roses, by Andrew Plattner (Publisher: Whitman Publishing LLC). Each finalist received a check for $1,000 and an Irish crystal trophy.
In addition to Coyte, the judges for the competition were Dr. Rudolph Alvarado and Mary Simon.
The inaugural Book Award winner was JoeDrape for Black Maestro, a 2006 biography of early 20th century African-American jockey Jimmy Winkfield. T. D. Thornton’s Not by a Long Shot: A Season at a Hard-Luck Horse Track, about Massachusetts struggling Suffolk Downs, took the Award in 2007, while Dr. Alvarado won last year for his book The Untold Story of Joe Hernandez: The Voice of Santa Anita.


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