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Review: Diary of a Dream

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

By

Diary of a Dream: My Journey in Thoroughbred Racing by George Rowand

Diary of a Dream: My Journey in Thoroughbred Racing by George Rowand

Eclipse Press

The Bottom Line

Most racing fans, for any number of reasons, limit their participation to the betting windows. To them, racehorse ownership is an expensive proposition that is not worthy of consideration. Virginia news editor George Rowand took that plunge and tells us his story in his new book, an emotional roller-coaster ride of triumphs and disappointments. Although his experience may not be typical for most owners, "Diary of a Dream" is an excellent book for any fan who has thought about owning a horse.
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Pros

  • Excellent first-hand account of the emotional roller-coaster ride of racehorse ownership
  • A must-read for anybody considering owning a horse alone or in partnership
  • The book also serves as a tribute to old-school trainer Barclay Tagg

Cons

  • We found no fault with this book.

Description

  • Rowand's story demonstrates that racehorse ownership is not simply spending money to make money.
  • Years of heavy losses early on almost bankrupted the farm before they ever saw a winner's circle.
  • To reverse their fortunes, trainer Barclay Tagg was hired on.
  • His skills were already legendary in his native Maryland, long before he trained Funny Cide.
  • As he did with Funny Cide, he took horses of unfashionable breeding to the winner's circle.
  • Tagg hired up-and-coming Kent Desormeaux and wins leader Laffit Pincay Jr. to ride the Bonner horses
  • Tagg trained the farm's only Grade 1 winner, Miss Josh in the Gamely Handicap at Hollywood Park.
  • Highland Springs upset Fourstardave at Saratoga and was Bonner Farm's only Breeders' Cup starter.
  • All good things come to an end as retirements of their top horses ended their winning streak.
  • Rowand sold his share to his sister and left the game, never to return.

Guide Review - Review: Diary of a Dream

Horse ownership is the ultimate emotional roller-coaster ride. The exhilaration of watching your homebred cross the finish line first in a Grade 1 stakes race contrasts with the disappointment of seeing these fragile animals suffer injuries suddenly removing a source of income. Small-time owners do not have the funds or the horseflesh to ride out a series of catastrophes. This is the risk every owner takes.

In 1980, lawyer George Rowand felt that a career change was needed. Convincing family and friends to join, he raised $90,000 and put together Bonner Farm, "dedicated to breeding and racing the Champion," with the ultimate goal being to breed and race the next Secretariat. But that dream appeared distant indeed, as their initial sales purchases never made it to the track. Fillies they intended to be stakes winners got injured in training and became young broodmares. The business was failing fast and Rowand questioned whether he had made the right choice between law and horse ownership.

With patience from Rowand and partners, the tide finally turned. Barclay Tagg, an old-school trainer from Maryland, was hired on, and his skills as a horseman quickly paid off. Tagg's reputation for getting the best possible results from his charges worked well, as he trained Bonner homebreds to stakes wins in Maryland, New York, and California. The broodmares they retired unraced years ago to such disappointment redeemed themselves as their progeny visited the winner's circle.

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