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Hillenbrand, Lara.
New York : Random House, 2001.
ISBN 0375502912

(2 booktalks)

Click on the book to read Amazon reviews
Booktalk #1

The Horse

The Colt was a descendant of the great Man-O-War. The colt's body built low to the ground had all of the properties of a cinder block. Where his sire had been tall and sleek, his son was blunt, coarse, rectangular and stationary. He had a sad little tail, barely long enough to brush his hocks. His stubby legs were a study in unsound construction. With squarish asymmetrical "baseball glove" knees that didn't quite straighten all the way, leaving him in a permanent semi crouch. Thanks to his unfortunate assembly, his walk was an odd straddle-legged notion that resembled lameness. His favorite pastime was sleeping. His name was Seabiscuit.

The Owner

Charles Howard was eastern born and bred. In 1903 he left for California from New York with only 21 cents in his pocket. He begged and borrowed enough money to start a bicycle repair shop. He tinkered with the bikes, but he was waiting for something interesting to come his way. The horseless carriage was coming to San Francisco, and people were staying away from that devilish contraption in droves. Charles Howard saw an opportunity. His bike shop became an automobile repair and he was on his way. In 1935, Charles started in horse racing by buying a modest stable of horses, and hiring a crack trainer. Horse racing was a hobby but then he became a fanatic.

The Trainer

Tom Smith was a man of few words. With people Tim was bristling and curt. With horse he was gracefully at ease. By the turn of the 19th century, he has already been a deer hunter a sheep ranch foreman, a mountain lion tracker, and tamed countless mustangs. At thirteen, he was already a skilled horse breaker. He rode to Grand Junction Colorado, and won the job of the foreman of the Unaweep Ranch. He stayed 20 years. He spent years breaking study little cow ponies, treating their injuries and illnesses. He lived day and night in their company. But the day of the horse was coming to an end. Tom Smith found work with Cowboy Charlie Irwin, who ran a Wild West Show in the summer, and racing in the winter. It was a rough life for man and beast. Tom slept and ate in the horses' stalls. He was taking care of over fifty-four horses. He shoed the horses, patched the horses together, soothed their ailments and learned. In watching thousands of match races, he learned that the horse that broke first would win. Soon he became a trainer for Irwin and was very good. He lived by one creed. " Learn your horse, each one is individual, and once you penetrate his mind and heart, you can work wonders with an otherwise intractable beast." The cow ponies, the broncs, the show horses and the weary racers all help craft Tom Smith into the complete horseman. At the Agua Caliente track in Mexico, Tom Smith met Charles Howard.

The Jockey

Red Pollard was born in Canada in 1909. He started riding quarter horses as a kid. Then he moved to thoroughbreds. He lived a rough and brutal life. And he also was learning. Red pollard had a rare skill. He rode horses that no one else would go near. He had learned to keep his whip idle, compensate by riding with longer stirrups. He horses responded to his kind handling. After winning his first race in 1926, it seemed that Red was going to make it as a jockey. He was riding at Agua Caliente when he met Tom Smith.

Everything was in place - the horse, the owner, the trainer, and the jockey. History was going to be made. From 1936 to 1947, the scruffy little horse would spark the imagination of a whole country and the four would become the stuff that legends are made of.
Marilyn Bunker for The Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award
Booktalk #2

Seabiscuit just happened to be a descendant of the famous racer Man O" War, but he didn't look like much. He was small with knobby knees, a crooked foreleg and a lazy streak. What did he have going for him? He liked to win; had a big heart; a reclusive trainer, Tom Smith; ad down on his luck jockey, Red Pollard; and a rags to riches owner, Charles Howard.
Karen Kargel for The Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award

Non fiction SUBJECTS:     Seabiscuit (Race horse).
                        Horse racing.
                        Race horses -- Biography.


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