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Review: "Legacies of the Turf: A Century of Great Breeders (Vol. 1)"

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Legacies of the Turf

Legacies of the Turf by Edward L. Bowen

Eclipse Press

The Bottom Line

This book is strongly recommended as a reference book for students of pedigree and racing history or those new fans who want to more fully understand American Thoroughbred racing's rich and colorful history.
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  • Excellent reference book for Thoroughbred history buffs and students of pedigree
  • A fitting tribute to American breeding luminaries written by racing's top historian
  • Useful for new and old racing fans alike


  • Not meant to be read cover to cover, a bit dry for that
  • Would not appeal to racing fans only focused on the gambling.


  • Each chapter includes a complete list of that breeder's stakes winners and national champions.
  • Each of those horses is accompanied by his or her pedigree, gender, color, and birth year.
  • A useful appendix lists the top ten foundation mares from the first half of the century.
  • A line diagram showing the mare's greatest descendents shows their influence continuing to today.
  • Bowen included 20 breeders in Volume 1, covering the first half of the twentieth century.
  • Volume 2, covering the second half and into the present, is due for release late in 2004.

Guide Review - Review: "Legacies of the Turf: A Century of Great Breeders (Vol. 1)"

In this first of two volumes of "Legacies of the Turf", top racing historian Edward L. Bowen presents his thorough research on the most influential breeders on the American Turf in the twentieth century. In Volume 1, Bowen covers the first half of the century, however, many of those same influential breeders have continued their family tradition through the generations and into the twenty-first century. The most recent example of this is when Birdstone, a product of the powerful Whitney family, rallied to upset Smarty Jones in this year's Belmont Stakes, denying him the Triple Crown. Names such as Phipps and Hancock continue to grace the pages of the Daily Racing Form and sales catalogs today as they did over fifty years ago. Bowen said, "Although it is true that the term 'breeder' means a range from the hobbyist to the national leader, each echelon faces some similar decisions and harbors similar ambitions. The hope is that a look at the careers of those who have had outstanding success will be seen as interesting to participants and fans today who have a curiosity about what went before them." He also notes that "the breeding of a great racehorse, while still a mystery, is much closer to a predictable phenomenon than the breeding of a colt who becomes a truly great stallion. I am a great believer in the importance of luck in Thoroughbred breeding, and clearly all the great breeders had a good deal of it."
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