Hovdey: A Christmas gift of a classic racing read

by | 12.10.2011 | 1:36pm

For anyone looking for a Christmas gift to please a racing enthusiast, Daily Racing Form's Jay Hovdey recommends the classic writing of Joe Palmer. Palmer found horse racing endlessly intriguing, something that is evident in “This Was Racing,” a collection of columns by Palmer edited and introduced by Red Smith and illustrated by Willard Mullin.

One of Palmer's best-known quotes described Man o' War: “He was as near to a living flame as horses ever get, and horses get closer to this than anything else.”

Palmer was quite simply in love with horse racing, writes Hovdey, and his tales summoned what racetrackers know to be true about themselves but rarely slow down to appreciate – their unbridled dedication to the sport. Take, for example, Palmer's description of a trainer:

“They can always be caught out,” Palmer wrote, “as was illustrated in the dusty story about the famous Andrew Jackson Joyner when he was put at the best stand in a deer hunt in the Carolinas. A deer broke through the underbrush into the clearing, and Joyner instinctively reached for his stopwatch instead of his shotgun.”

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