Award-winning turf writer Gary West will be on hand Saturday in the East Paddock Gardens at 10:30 a.m. to sign copies of his newest book, “Ride To Win: An Inside Look at the Jockey’s Craft.” A New Orleans native and the son of a jockey-turned trainer, West and co-author Bob Fortus have a combined 50-plus years covering Thoroughbred racing and the pair interviewed over 100 jockeys, trainers, owners, stewards and jockey agents in preparing the book, which was published by JockeyTalk360.com.
Among those interviewed over a three year period were Hall of Fame jockeys such as Jerry Bailey, Calvin Borel, Pat Day, Eddie Delahoussaye, Chris McCarron, Mike Smith and Gary Stevens.
“Jockeys are probably the most misunderstood and least appreciated workers at the racetrack,” said West. “Even serious fans have no idea what’s necessary to ride a racehorse or what’s going on out there on the track. The sport and the few turf writers who actually understand the game need to do a better job of explaining its complexities, and maybe this book is a step in that direction.”
Fortus, a longtime turf writer for the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper, derived his idea for the book by listening to hard-core handicappers engaging in incessant banter while watching races at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans.
“Just listening to the ‘jockey-ologists,’ it always struck me how little people know (about) what’s really going on in a race,” Fortus said. “These are world class athletes, and they have to make decisions while they’re on a horse (that’s) running. “It’s fluid, all on the fly. It’s pretty amazing. There’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.”
Bailey, who retired in 2006 while regarded as one of the game’s best prepared and all-time great game-day tacticians, is quoted extensively in “Ride To Win . . .
“Yes, I watched video, hours of video,” he told West and Fortus. “I read the Racing Form like it was my bible.”
West will be accompanied at the signing by retired Hall of Fame great, Laffit Pincay, Jr., and top rider Joe Talamo. Copies of “Ride to Win, An Inside Look at the Jockey’s Craft,” will be available for sale as well. (Pincay will also present the trophy for Saturday’s Grade II San Pasqual Stakes.)