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Book Review: "Exterminator"

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating



Exterminator by Eva Jolene Boyd

Eclipse Press

The Bottom Line

Boyd said readers should "come away with not only a love for this grand old horse, but especially for an appreciation of horse racing during the early part of the century." This reviewer agrees.
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  • Excellent look back at one of racing's greats
  • Boyd settles the debate over his "100" starts
  • Reader gets an appreciation for 1920's racing


  • Exterminator's talent would be wasted today.


  • Geldings suffer from a lack of respect. Exterminator was one who proved his detractors wrong.
  • Eva Jolene Boyd researched this old campaigner who raced from 1917 to 1924 for owner Willis Kilmer.
  • His stablemate scratched out of the Derby, so Kilmer entered him instead, and he went on to win.
  • When he retired, his popularity did not wane. 38,000 fans cheered him when he came to Pimlico.
  • Children visited him every day after school, and Mrs. Kilmer would hold birthday parties for him.
  • Exterminator passed away on September 26, 1945. In 1957, he was inducted into Racing's Hall of Fame.
  • An interesting debate rekindled and corrected, is that of his legendary 50 wins in 100 starts.
  • Boyd said, "It may look strange to see 99 starts and 50 wins, but fair is fair."
  • Somebody had counted the "race against time" at Hawthorne in September 1922 as an unplaced finish.
  • DRF agreed that he should not be charged with that "race" since he was the only horse on the track.

Guide Review - Book Review: "Exterminator"

Exterminator would prove himself to be one of the great "iron horses" of all time. He would carry weights as high as 140 pounds, over distances of up to 2 1/4 miles, race conditions unheard of today. His career brought him to tracks across the northeast, Canada and Mexico. Boyd wrote the book because she has "a particular fondness for the old campaigners, especially weight carriers and horses that could go a distance. Exterminator was as good and as tough as they came. The idea of him lugging 134 pounds over 2 1/4 miles (in the 1920 Ontario Jockey Club Cup at Woodbine) and winning is mind-boggling," in an age where "modern trainers complain when their top 4-year-olds have to carry 124 pounds and concede 5 pounds" to the opposition.
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