04/11/2013 9:57AM

Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award goes to Patrick Smithwick

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Patrick Smithwick has been awarded the seventh annual Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, for his 2012 autobiographical work Flying Change: A Year of Racing and Family and Steeplechasing.

The Castleton Lyons Book Award was created in 2006 by Ryan, the founder of Europe’s Ryanair airline and a lover of horse racing. Although Ryan died in 2007, the contest has been carried on by his son, Shane, current president of Castleton Lyons breeding farm in Lexington, Ky. The award offers a first-place prize of $10,000.

In Flying Change, Smithwick tells the story of his return to steeplechase competition in his late 40s, a quarter-century removed from his former racing days. In the book he recalls the difficult road back to athletic fitness and the doubts, joys, and setbacks in his quest to compete again.

The other finalists were Kentucky Derby Dreams: The Making of Thoroughbred Champions, by Susan Nusser; and The Garrett Gomez Story: A Jockey’s Journey Through Addiction and Salvation, by Rudolph Valier Alvarado, with Garrett Gomez.

This year’s judges were Kay Coyte, managing editor of the Washington Post-Bloomberg News Service; HRTV broadcaster and producer Caton Bredar; and attorney and author Milton C. Toby, winner of the 2011 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award for Dancer’s Image: The Forgotten Story.