2022 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award Finalists announced

on 07/31/2023 3:32 PM

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Finalists announced 

for Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award


Three finalists for the 17th Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award have been decided by a panel of racing and literary judges. They included an extraordinary time-hopping, historical novel; a compelling biography of potential greatness and a life cut short; and a powerful, category-bending work of fiction told as the oral history of a hard-luck horsewoman. All three were authored by women.

"The 2022 nominees included a refreshing group of voices new to this Book Award, including the three finalists,” lead judge Kay Coyte noted. “The works from these women were outstanding."

The award was founded in 2006 by the late global philanthropist and entrepreneur Dr. Ryan to honor the best in long-form writing related to horse racing. Its $10,000 prize remains among the largest in the literary world, regardless of category. Following Dr. Ryan’s 2007 passing, this celebration of racing’s finest literature has been carried on by his son, Shane, current president of the family’s Castleton Lyons farm near Lexington.

In addition to the $10,000 winner’s check, two runners-up will each receive $1,000. In addition, all three finalists will take home Tipperary Irish crystal trophies in the form of Castleton Lyons’ iconic fieldstone tower.

After two years of Zoom winners’ announcements due to pandemic precautions, the Book Award returned live in 2022 to its traditional space in the loft above the farm’s historic stallion barn. The invitation-only, drinks and hors d’oeuvres reception to announce the current winner is scheduled for the evening of November 9. 

For additional information, contact Kerrie Cahill at: (859) 455-9222, or at


Following are the finalists, listed alphabetical by author.





Author:  Geraldine Brooks


By Pulitzer Prize winner Geraldine Brooks, Horse tells a fictionalized tale of pre-Civil War champion Lexington and his enslaved groom Jarrett, as they travel the South and cross paths with a young painter of racehorses. The narrative goes back and forth in time, to a 1954 New York art gallery where a mysterious painting captures the imagination of a noted art dealer, to 2019 Washington D. C., where a long-forgotten equine skeleton is rediscovered at the Smithsonian. Fact and fiction weave together magically at the hands of a gifted writer.





Landaluce: The Story of Seattle Slew’s First Champion


Author:  Mary Perdue


This bittersweet biography is one of heartbreak and dreams unfulfilled, of a filly cut down at the very threshold of greatness. Landaluce was from Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew’s first crop and was a sign of good things to come for the young stallion. She won all five of her starts as a two-year-old in 1982 by an average of nearly ten lengths before dying suddenly of a viral infection in her stall at Santa Anita. She was a champion but could have been an immortal. 




Kick the Latch


Author: Kathryn Scanlan


Author Scanlan has described her slim novel as a work of fiction based on interviews with an Iowa-based trainer named Sonia. The story is poetically told in vignettes, as an oral history that can make the reader wonder at times what is real … and what is not. She writes of the itinerate backstretch world at a low-level racetrack, telling a story of survival where horses are patched up for one more start and jockeys brag about “flipping” to make weight, with violence as a simmering backdrop. Scanlan’s writing is minimalist but powerful.

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