on 11/04/2022 8:50 AM

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From a near-record number of submissions, Annette Dashofy’s Death by Equine has been named winner of the 16th annual Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award. The announcement was made during a Nov. 3 cocktail reception at the Ryan family’s Castleton Lyons, near Lexington, Kentucky—the first live ceremony since 2019, due to Covid. As in previous years, the event was held in a loft above the farm’s famed 19th century stallion barn.

Death by Equine becomes the fourth work of fiction to be honored. Past winners have included biographies of prominent racing participants; a short story collection; an anthology of racetrack memories; a work of investigative reporting; and a National Book Award recipient.

This year’s winner was penned by a USA Today best-selling author and multiple Agatha Award nominee. It tells the story of a young racetrack veterinarian who unexpectedly finds herself investigating the suspicious death of her mentor. In the process, she encounters unsavory characters and deceitful friends, uncovers a spate of illicit activities, and ultimately becomes a target herself.

Judges for the competition, comprised of books published in 2021, were Eclipse Award winner Kay Coyte, a former editor at The Washington Post; award-winning television racing broadcaster Caton Bredar; and Mark Shrager, who won the 2020 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award for the biography: Diane Crump, A Horse-Racing Pioneer’s Life in the Saddle.

Shrager described Death by Equine as “a lively racetrack whodunit that really grabs the reader in the first few pages and never lets go.”

Lead judge Coyte agreed, calling it “one of those books that keeps you up at night because you just have to find out whodunit.” Coyte noted that Dashofy had an in-depth knowledge of racing that enabled her to describe backstretch life vividly and accurately. “Dashofy’s characters came alive in her writing, and the mystery’s twists and turns kept me guessing through the final chapter.”

“Our best 2021 titles were dominated by female authors,” Coyte added, “and the three finalists rose to the top. Each author mastered the sport's arcane language while telling a great story for a wide audience."

Dashofy was awarded a check for $10,000 and a Tipperary crystal replica of Castleton Lyons’ iconic stone tower. Finalists Dawn LeFevre (Racetrack Rogues: One Woman’s Story of Family, Love, and Loss in the Horse Racing World) and Jennifer Morrison (Run With a Mighty Heart) each received $1,000 and a trophy.  

Dr. Tony Ryan founded the competition in 2006 to recognize quality book length writing with a racing backdrop. After the global businessman/philanthropist passed the following year, the award was continued in his honor by his son Shane, current president of Castleton Lyons.

Entries are open until December 31, 2022 for next year’s Award for books published in 2022. For competition rules and additional information, contact Kerrie Cahill at

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