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Press Release

April 11, 2013


Patrick Smithwick wins Seventh Annual

Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award

 LEXINGTON, KY—Writer, teacher, photographer and lifelong horseman Patrick Smithwick has been awarded the seventh annual Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, for his 2012 autobiographical work Flying Change: A Year of Racing and Family and Steeplechasing. The work is a follow-up to the author’s 2006 volume Racing My Father: Growing Up with a Riding Legend, itself a finalist for the inaugural Book Award in 2006. A $10,000 winner’s check and a custom-designed Irish crystal trophy were presented to Smithwick on April 10 during an evening reception at  Castleton Lyons farm in Lexington, Kentucky.

 In Flying Change, the author—a son and nephew of Racing Hall of Fame horsemen and a rider possessed of his own bonafide credentials—relates the story of his return to steeplechase competition in his late 40s, a quarter-century removed from his previous racing career. With humor, elegance, and charming introspection he recalls the difficult road back from complacent middle-age to athletic fitness … the doubts, the joys, and setbacks along the way in his quest to compete and to defy the passage of time.”

 Smithwick’s beautifully written book impressed all three judges, who remarked on the loving detail included therein, and the honesty—sometimes brutal—with which the story was told.

 Submissions for the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award came from all over the world, included among them histories, biographies, fiction, and a volume on equine law. In addition to the winner, finalists for 2012 were: Kentucky Derby Dreams: The Making of Thoroughbred Champions, by Susan Nusser; and The Garrett Gomez Story: A Jockey’s Journey Through Addiction and Salvation, by Rudolph Valier Alvarado, with Garrett Gomez.

 Dr. Ryan, a successful businessman who founded Europe’s Ryanair airline in 1985, loved horse racing and a good story. In 2006 he tipped his hat to both by launching the Castleton Lyons Book Award, which with $10,000 in prize money quickly drew entries from some of the world’s foremost sporting authors. Although Dr. Ryan passed away the following year, the contest now named for him has since been carried on by his son Shane,  president of Castleton Lyons.

 Judges for the competition were Kay Coyte, managing editor of the Washington Post-Bloomberg News Service; HRTV broadcaster and producer Caton Bredar; and attorney and author Milton C. Toby, winner of the 2011 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award for Dancer’s Image: The Forgotten Story.

 Previous winners of the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award:

2011—Milt Toby, Dancer’s Image: The Forgotten Story of the 1968 Kentucky Derby

2010—Jaimy Gordon, Lord of Misrule

2009—James E. "Ted” Bassett and Bill Mooney, Keeneland’s Ted Bassett: My Life

2008—Rudy Alvarado, The Untold Story of Joe Hernandez: The Voice of Santa Anita

2007—T. D. Thornton, Not By a Long Shot: A Season at a Hard-Luck Horse Track

2006—Joe Drape, Black Maestro

 For more information, contact Stuart Fitzgibbbon at Castleton Lyons, (859) 455-9222.

   About Castleton Lyons

Castleton Lyons is full-service Thoroughbred facility located on historic property near Lexington, Kentucky, in the heart of Blue Grass country. This limestone rich acreage, once owned by 18th century statesman John Breckinridge and later by Victorian Era Wall Street financier James R. Keene, has produced some of America’s most notable racehorses—from long-ago Racing Hall of Fame champions Domino, Commando, and Colin, to triple Eclipse Award-winning Ryan-family homebred and current Castleton Lyons stallion Gio Ponti.

 Castleton Lyons, 2469 Iron Works Pike, Lexington, Kentucky 40511; (859) 455-9222

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