06/03/2014 4:23PM

Giwner: Standardbred Old Friends


There is something quite special about being brought back in time to a moment with pleasant memories. I have to admit when first hearing about the book Standardbred Old Friends, I wasn't very excited. Truth be told, I've always been more of a racing lover than a horse lover.  But before judging the book by its cover, I dug in. 

As someone with a short attention span, the book was going to have to grab my attention in the first few minutes. It did! Barbara Livingston's pictures jump off the page. From stars of years past like Moni Maker, to a grinding veteran in Incredible K (more on him later), the pictures sparked memories from my brain that had long been forgotten. 

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It is not so odd for pictures to catch my attention. I've always been more of a visual person who was a flipper rather than a reader. My motto is, "if the story is long, time to move on," which is odd considering I write and edit stories for a living. 

So flip I did, a few pages in until I reached the story about Cam's Card Shark on page 6. What a wonderful few minutes remembering the horse I knew from the grandstand and getting some insight I was never privy to as a 22-year-old fan during his championship campaign. Not only was I easily able to "get through" the passages, but I was left wanting more and immediately commenced a search for another horse from my youth. 

If you are close to my generation, how could you forget Hot Lead? The Iron Horse, as he was called by announcer John Bothe, is ingrained in my head. He may not have been the greatest standardbred I have ever seen, but way back in 1996, when he won the Meadowlands Pace, he captured my imagination and was one of the horses I went to the track to watch.

While I could go on and on writing about the 43 retired Standardbreds profiled in the book, I'll abide by my rule about keeping the message short. But first I would be remiss if I didn't say a few words about Incredible K. It is noteworthy that he raced 344 times, but on a more personal note he was a horse I always enjoyed watching and wagering on. He began his career when I was a freshman in high school and endured through 16 years of racing, the final few via a rule that allows horses older than 14 to compete in amateur races. I don’t exactly recall, but I may have even raced against him a time or two in the amateur ranks along the way. Horses like Incredible K are the foundation of our sport. They are the horses which keep the entry box full and provide us the racing we know and love.

It is refreshing to know that so many of the horses, which have provided me with entertainment and joy, are well cared for and still going strong as the years pass.

Whether you are a fan of standardbred racing, horses in general, or just love a few good short stories with excellent photography, Standardbred Old Friends is a book worth purchasing and treasuring. 

You can watch a video about the making of the book here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1p5-1VTyTzE&feature=youtube_gdata.

You can purchase the book from the Harness Racing Museum at www.harnessmuseum.com or by calling 845-294-6330.