on 03/29/2019 12:39 PM

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Finalists announced for 2018

Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award


A trio of finalists have been selected from a strong and diverse slate of entries for the 13th annual Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award. These include a collection of fictional stories; a journal chronicling a year-in-the-life of a young jockey; and an historical biography of a great American racehorse. Though very different in substance and style, they share two significant commonalities: All were penned by writers of remarkable talent, and each has something important to say about the sport we love.

The late Dr. Ryan was a noted philanthropist and businessman—and an avid fan of the Sport of Kings who loved a good read. In 2006 he launched a competition to recognize book-length race-writing of the highest quality, attaching a $10,000 winner’s prize unheard of in the Thoroughbred industry. Dr. Ryan hosted the first two book award receptions at his historic Castleton Lyons farm near Lexington, Kentucky, before losing a battle to cancer in October of 2007. The award has since been carried on by Shane Ryan to honor his father’s name and memory.

Judges for 2018 were: Kay Coyte, former managing editor of the Washington Post-Bloomberg News Service; Caton Bredar, longtime television broadcaster and racing analyst; and Jayne Moore Waldrop, a writer, attorney, and author of the poetry collection Retracing My Steps.                                                                        

The 2018 winner will be announced at an invitation-only reception at Castleton Lyons, on the evening of April 10. For additional information, contact Betsy Hager at: (859) 455-9222, or at


Around Kentucky With the Bug!                                             

Author: Patrick Lawrence Gilligan

A trainer and, more importantly, a loving father, follows his son’s year as an apprentice jockey in pursuit of a dream, as he attempts to break into a tough, often unforgiving industry. This eloquent journal serves up a heart-warming story of life, love, and family, told with gentle humor and insight. A portion of proceeds from the book fittingly goes to benefit disabled jockeys.

Dixie Luck

Author:  Andy Plattner​

Plattner, who won this award in 2015 with “Offerings from a Rust Belt Jockey,” was back again in 2018 with another literary gem. This time, it was a collection of character-driven short stories, plus a novella, that brought to life the complex, often flawed people who populate a racetrack. Plattner, a multiple award winner outside of racing, does not shy away from the sport’s darkest corners, as several of his well-crafted tales focus on the devastation wrought by gambling addiction.

Out of the Clouds: The Unlikely Horseman and the Unwanted Colt who Conquered the Sport of Kings

Authors:  Linda Carroll and David Rosner​

A pair of well-known national journalists teamed to tell this Cinderella tale of 1940s superstar Stymie and his legendary trainer Hirsch Jacobs. It is the story of a Plain Joe colt that nobody wanted, born as a world war simmered, who rose from low level claiming ranks to Hall of Fame status while becoming the first American Thoroughbred to surpass $900,000 in earnings. With his flamboyantly high-headed, “out-of-the-clouds” style of running, Stymie became a blue collar hero to millions during America’s Golden Age of Sports.          

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