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Review: "Blood Horses: Notes of a Sportswriter's Son"

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating


Blood Horses

Blood Horses: Notes of a Sportswriter's Son by John Jeremiah Sullivan

Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

The Bottom Line

This book is for followers of the human side of horse racing, those who wish to understand the relationship between man and horse, fans of Mike Sullivan's writing, and those wishing to pursue a career in sports writing. However, fans of specific racehorses, younger racing fans, and those who follow the sport strictly for its gambling aspect would be better served by one of the many other racing books that have been released in recent months.
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  • Human side of horseracing showcased
  • Excellent tribute to his father, a man he both admired and reviled


  • Father/Son and Man/Horse relationships failed to parallel as intended
  • Having to switch between the two gave the impression of a lack of focus
  • Often a dry read, not recommended for younger fans or bettors


  • Segregation of rich and poor at the Derby: The poor in general admission heckle the rich VIP's
  • Too much money and alcohol concentrated in the same place makes for a dangeous situation.
  • The author was accosted by drunks while walking down the dark streets surrounding Churchill Downs.
  • Sullivan does not shy away from revealing his father's many weaknesses.
  • Excessive alcohol and tobacco use ultimately led to his death.
  • During the book's timeframe, two Triple Crown near-misses are described, War Emblem and Funny Cide.
  • Sullivan was one of the many horsemen stranded at the Keeneland sale on September 11, 2001.

Guide Review - Review: "Blood Horses: Notes of a Sportswriter's Son"

Eclipse Award winning magazine writer John Sullivan delves into the world of Thoroughbred horse racing and reveals much about his relationship with his father Mike, who covered sports for over three decades. Of all the sports his father covered, racing was his favorite, with his greatest racing memory that of the 1973 Kentucky Derby with Secretariat. The younger Sullivan writes from the perspective of a novice, with little understanding of the sport until he began his research and extensive travels for this book.

Extending his research beyond the confines of the racetrack, he also examines man's relationship and co-evolution with the horse, an animal simultaneously loved and hated, workshipped and killed.

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