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Kevin Conley is an editor at The New Yorker. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and The New Yorker. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Amy and their two children, Max and Sarah.
This book was not written to meet massive pent-up reader demand, but it does offer an engaging lay reader's introduction to the business of breeding Thoroughbred horses. Conley, a staff writer with The New Yorker, takes us to high-profile horse auctions; to picturesque big-money farms in bluegrass Kentucky, the Mecca of Thoroughbred breeding; to second-tier farms in California and a remote stud-farm-of-last-resort run by old hippies in New Mexico; to a preserve for semiferal Shetland ponies where nature takes its course without careful human intervention; and (many times) into the high-stakes bedroom, so to speak. We meet Storm Cat, the stud's stud, whose services are sold for up to $500,000 per breeding and whose offspring earned more than $21 million at the track in 1999 and 2000; the old warrior Seattle Slew, coming back to his duties following delicate surgery; and Distinctive Cat, a son of Storm Cat and now a stud himself, who, through a "telepathic animal communicator," grants the author an interview (Distinctive Cat is happy with his job, thank you, and he doesn't even take into account the sexual aspect). A nice buy for libraries with big budgets or that are located in horse country. Jim Burns, Jacksonville P.L., FL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
'Funny, insightful..engaging..a vividly equine-centric view of social, cultural and economic human history' Publishers Weekly 'An engaging book that provides a window into a bizarre world of sex, drugs and money' Guardian 'Kevin Conley is the Bill Bryson of the breeding shed' Sunday Telegraph
Funny, insightful and surprisingly engaging, this part travelogue on Kentucky bluegrass country and part guide to equine breeding offers far more than one might initially expect. The world's priciest stud, Storm Cat (a direct descendant of Secretariat), earns a whopping $500,000 per tryst. The randy stallion's "muck" is used by Campbell Soup to fertilize its mushroom fields. Conley, a New Yorker staff writer, takes readers to an auction where two camps a stoic group of Irishmen known in horse circles as "the boys" and a modish collection of sheikhs inexplicably called "the Doobie Brothers" square off on fillies and colts fetching upwards of $3 million. But Conley doesn't stop there: he considers the advancement of civilization through the history of horses. He argues that through horse trading the nomads of Kazakhstan brought their proto-Indo-European language to most of Europe and South Asia. "History had begun," he writes, "built on the way a horse can cover ground." Conley also illustrates the racial and socioeconomic backdrop of horse country with rather telling accounts of the interactions between black and white, blue collar and blueblood that shape the equine community. The upshot is a vividly equine-centric view of social, cultural and economic human history. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.