Issue 89
May 21 - 27, 2002
Volume 3
page 3

Win, Place, Show; From Desert to Derby
Two New Thoroughbred Books at GBC

By Howard Schwartz

Among the newest arrivals at Gamblers Book Shop in Las Vegas are Win Place and Show by Betsy Berns, subtitled An Introduction to the thrill of Thoroughbred racing (219 pages, paperbound, $9.95) and Jason Levin's From the Desert to the Derby, subtitled The Ruling Family of Dubai's Billion-Dollar Quest to Win America's Greatest Race (210 pages, hardbound, $24.95).

Berns' book could be the best new work for attracting younger players to the tracks for the first time. The industry was in need of a reasonably priced introductory text on everything from how to place a bet and read the Daily Racing Form; the different types of bets and a lot of stuff the beginner yearns to know but who finds people have little patience to explain-it's all here.

From the history of the sport to how they're trained; to the types of races, Berns does a fine job of guiding the novice through it all. How about the role of the track veterinarian and the man who calls the races? What do their jobs involve? What are the responsibilities of the jockey, trainer or owner or racing secretary? What are some of the great horses of the past? Where are the tracks located and where could one write, call or e-mail for information? It's all here with a nice glossary of terms for those who don't understand the language of the sport. Well-illustrated including some very funny and to the point cartoons about the sport, it's a wonderful package of information as a starter kit for the person who has never been to the track or one who's been there but wants to know more on their own.

"Can one of the world's richest men buy the Kentucky Derby," this book asks in it's dust jacket? An interesting question, considering the hundreds of millions spent annually each year on Thoroughbred horseflesh.

Clearly, everyone is interested in America's greatest horse race-the Kentucky Derby.

Still hoping for that big day is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, a billionaire from oil rich Dubai. Levin, one of the Sport of Kings' top reporters, tells us how and why this sheikh is going about battling for power, glory, tradition and the ultimate big win.

This is more than a book about money and egos-it's an inside look at breeding, training, hard work, timing, skill and the patience to work with young, often expensive horses-the Big Races like those of the Breeder's Cup; the Triple Crown; and the biggest European stakes races.

There is history here-of the people and the great racecourses that offer color and pageantry-and the numbers are mind-boggling-the millions spent in anticipation of great bloodlines producing even greater, more revenue-producing offspring-and the maneuvers and manipulations of rich, knowledgeable men who are as often wrong as right.

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Levin captures the language of the sport-the backstretch moves, but above all, you'll better understand what makes them all come back for more-the "backyard breeders with a trailer" to the "lord of lush Bluegrass nurseries," as the author describes them.

The books mentioned in this review are available at Gambler's Book Shop, 630 South11th St., Las Vegas, NV 891901. Call 1-800-522-1777 from 9 to 5 Pacific time, Mon.-Sat. to order, using a MasterCard, VISA or Discover (no American Express accepted), and book(s) will be shipped the next working day. You may order via the store's web site at The store's complete catalog, listing 1,000 books, videos and computer software are also on the site, or you may request a catalog by calling, writing or e-mailing). The store is now in its 38th year, located two miles from Downtown Las Vegas and two miles from where The Strip begins, a block west of Maryland Parkway, just off Charleston Boulevard.

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