Annotations for Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

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Hannah Heeter                        

Annotations for Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

Part 1;


(pg. xvii-xix) 


                The Preface describes just how famous Seabiscuit was back around 1938. Our generation has grown up in an age where horse races are not famous, but rather football and baseball games, rock stars, and political figures are. Seabiscuit had trains that were “Seabiscuit Limited” and there was even Seabiscuit revenue that sold like crazy. Seabiscuit, for my generation, could be comparable to the Big Ben of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Red Pollard, Tom Smith, and Charles Howard formed a team that carried Seabiscuit to the top.  



Adulation- verb; To show excessive admiration or devotion to (pg. xvii)

Throngs- noun; A large group of people gathered or crowded closely together; a multitude (pg. xviii)


Chapter 1; The Day of the Horse is Past;



                Chapter 1 introduces a main character, Charles Howard.  He moves to San Francisco, California, with barely any money, and starts a bike repair shop. In San Francisco, the “horse-less” carriage arose which many were afraid of. Howard saw opportunity. He created an automobile repair shop. He then traveled to Detroit and met with the Will Durant, chief of Buick Automobiles, whom then hired Howard. On April 18, 1906, there was an earthquake in San Francisco. The horse carriages could not take the firefighters in the fire to save the injured and homeless people or to get rid of the dead. Howard let them use the three cars he had, which in turn worked and showed automobiles’ superiority.  He had started a revelation. Howard then started doing daring stunts and races to promote a car’s durability.

                He was all over the press; whether in heroic stories of him winning a race or an ad for Buick’s, he had the limelight. In 1926, a rich, successful Howard took his wife out to Del Monte, and left their 15-year-old son, Frankie, at home.  When they were gone, tragedy struck. Frankie had taken the car out with some friends to go fishing. On their way home, they were driving on a canyon road and saw a large rock, which he swerved to avoid.  The car went down over the edge.  Frankie’s spine and skull crushed, he was dead. Howard was devastated; he never quite got over it.

                In the 1920’s, if a man wanted to sin, California was not the place to be. So instead they traveled to Tijuana which was a town to go when you wanted to sin. There was alcohol, gambling, dancing, and cavorting all over the town. There, the Tijuana Racecourse was built; many called it ugly but had the first movable gates and photo finishes. Here Howard would sometimes travel.

                Charles’ son was married to Anita, who was pregnant.  During her pregnancy, she asked her sister Marcela to come and stay with them.  While she was there, she and Charles fell in love.

                Only a few more horses clopped down the streets in San Francisco, cars were the main attraction.  Charles was rich, but bored, so he moved on to horseracing.  

                Former pro baseball player Charles Strub lost everything in the stock market, he decided to build a racetrack and bring racing back to California.  Only two conditions racing become legal again. One, tracks had to use the pari-mutuel wagering machine instead of the bookmakers. Two, wagering would be heavily taxed.  Charles Howard went on the look for the best trainer.


The town of Tijuana reminds me of Las Vegas, which is also known as Sin City. Both towns have many things that are frowned upon and when you go, you come back like it never happened.  


Intangible- adjective; Incapable of being perceived by the sense of touch (pg. 3)

Unmitigated- adjective; Unqualified or absolute (pg. 4)

Derision- noun; Ridicule or mockery (pg. 4)

Innocuous- adjective; Harmless (pg. 5)

Cacophony- noun; Harsh discordance of sound (pg. 5)

Corpulent- adjective; Large or bulky of body (pg. 5)

Coiffures- noun; A head covering (pg. 5)

Audacious- adjective; Extremely bold or daring (pg. 7)

Gurneys- noun; A flat, padded table or stretcher with legs and wheels, for transporting patients or bodies (pg. 8)

Erstwhile- adjective; Former (pg. 8)

Ignominy- noun; Disgrace or dishonor (pg. 9)

Beleaguered- verb; To harass (pg. 10)

Prostrate- verb; To cast (oneself) face down on the ground in humility, submission, or adoration (pg. 13)

Magnate- noun; A person of great influence, importance, or standing in a particular enterprise (pg. 13)

Anemic- adjective; Lacking power, vigor, vitality, or colorfulness (pg. 14)

Brothels- noun; A house of prostitution (pg. 15)

Attrition- noun; A reduction or decrease in numbers, size, or strength (pg. 15)

Dilapidated- adjective; Reduced to or fallen into partial ruin or decay, as from age, wear, or neglect

(pg. 16)

Swaybacked- adjective; Having the back sagged to an unusual degree (pg. 16)

Nondescript- adjective; Of no recognized, definite, or particular type or kind (pg. 16)

Aplomb- noun; Great self-confidence (pg. 17)

Emblazoned- verb; To adorn (a surface) richly with prominent marking (pg. 18)

Chapter 2; The Lone Plainsman;




                An old horseman named Tom Smith, 56, was unusually quite and was rumored to have never said 100 words. His trademark was his grey felt fedora hat, which he was never without.  Back in his younger days, he would spend his time alone with horses. Indians even called him “Lone Plainsman” and white men called him “Silent Tom.”  He worked as a foreman on Unaweep Cattle Range for twenty years he could train; treat injuries, grooming, and more.  He lived there day and night; he even slept with the horses!  Horses became less popular and automobiles were everywhere.  Many were moving forward in technology, but Smith stayed in his comfort, horses.

                “Ten Ton” Irwin weighed 400-540 pounds.  Irwin ran a Wild West show in the summer and a racing stable in the winter.  He drove a custom sedan with a wide-load rear hatch to exit and enter through. Irwin was always in the news, he would hunt down robbers, belting out during the hanging of his friend, or saving Colorado’s Wool Trade. Since Irwin had the money and the notability, he offered Smith a job at his ranch, and Smith accepted.

                Irwin’s show was a sell-out.  He started doing side bets where he would have local horses try to try to beat his horses. Irwin would always leave town without paying his hotel bill. Smith was paid sixty dollars a month and he lived and ate with the horses.  Irwin was no easy boss, he dragged his jockey out of the hospital to race and he would pack thirty horses into a small railcar, ship them to a race, yank them off the car, and run them without giving them water or letting them warm up.  He ran the horses so much that after he would sell them; the new owners would have to let them rest for long periods of time before they were healthy enough to race again.  Luckily, Smith was there to sooth the animals.  He adapted to watching horses run into exhaustion. Smith learned that whichever horse broke from the start the fastest would win. He began thinking up new ways to teach his horses to get them off the line as quickly as possible.

                Irwin had no trouble buying horses and getting new workers, but when his show waned, he had trouble paying his employees. Smith stayed on the job. One horse caught smith’s eye and his name was Knighthood.  Knighthood had quite the history and many had quite the superstition towards him. Smith bought him in a claiming race but during that race, Knighthood was injured. Smith never gave up on that horse. Knighthood made an amazing comeback. Tom Smith had almost had a mystical communion with horses because he knew their minds and he knew their bodies. Smith could tell how they telegraphed emotion and sensation and could almost communicate with them.

                “Ten Ton” Irwin was on his way to Wyoming when his car crashed in a ditch. Rescuers found Irwin with head and chest injuries. He died two days later. Irwin’s barn was dissolved. Smith wound up at Seattle’s Longacres Racetrack.  There he was let go again, but as a gift he was given another horse, Oriley. Oriley was doing wonderful, he was being bumped up in class and he kept winning. Smith found himself living in a horse stall with another struggling horseman.  There a man named Giannnini noticed how Oriley was flourishing and told Charles Howard about Tom Smith.  The two met and became partners.


Stark- adjective; Sheer, utter, downright, or complete (pg. 23)

Recalcitrant- adjective; Resisting authority or control (pg. 24)

Vernacular- adjective; Native or indigenous (pg. 25)

Sojourns- noun; A temporary stay (pg. 26)

Raucous- adjective; Rough or hoarse (pg. 26)

Dubious- adjective; Doubtful (pg. 34)

Chapter 3; Mean, Restive, and Ragged;



                Tom Smith finally got a large salary, which came from Charles Howard.  He began wearing suits to the barn instead of overalls and t-shirts.  Smith had weird tactics when training. He buried an alarm clock that got a horse used to the sound of ticks.  Then he would put of the alarm clock to get the horse to go on a bell. No one understood Smith’s ways, but they always placed bets on his horses.  They found that the horses trained by him wound up in the winners circle.  Howard knew his place; he did not try to interfere with Smith during training.  Howard had a fleet of juvenile horses and wanted a mature horse to lead.  Therefore, he sent Smith on a mission to find a cheap, overlooked horse.  The horse found Smith.  The horse walked right up in front of Smith and eyed him up.  Smith found the horse in the program and saw he was a descendant of great fast horses.  The horse was blunt, coarse, rectangular, and stationary. This horse had so many problems. He had baseball glove knees, a sad tail, permanent semi crouch, eggbeater gait, and his gallop was so disorganized that he had a tendency to whack himself in the front ankle with his own hind hoof.  Somehow, during that race the horse managed to win, even with a bad start.  Smith was determined to get that horse. The horse’s name was Seabiscuit.

        James Fitzsimmons was born in Brooklyn. When he turned three the Coney Island Jockey Club built a track around his house. He grew up in the horse field and he loved every minute of it.  He started as help in the kitchen then he became an exercise boy eventually ending up a jockey. From there he wanted to try his hand at training. He had such bad arthritis by the age of sixty-one that his back bent so far forward he had to recognize horses by their feet.  Fitzsimmons created a name for himself and was recognized all over America. This was the only person Smith regarded with awe.  

        Fitzsimmons had a horse named Hard Tack.  Hard Tack was uncontrollable just like his great-grandsire, Hastings.  Hastings rammed his own competition and he ripped groom after groom to shreds. Hastings son Man o’ War beat his competition by so much and he set speed records. He was only beat once by a horse named Upset! Man o’ War’s son, War Relic, was quite the ball of fire.  A jockey that was “fearless”, Tommy Luther, was even scared of him.  The first time War Relic was in a race, he won with excellence.  Luther then told his wife to bet money on War Relic’s next race.  Helen, Luther’s wife, did bet and sat in the stands and prayed for him to be safe.  On the homestretch, War Relic went to the inside and stopped dead in his tracks, which vaulted Luther off the horse.  Luther headed for a bunch of spears and fortunately caught himself on the rail with his hands and swung around it like a gymnast. Luckily, his wife was praying. Any son of Man o’ War all you could do was pray because they inherited Hastings temper. Hard Tack definitely inherited the uncontrollable part of Hastings.  Hard Tack finally raced and set speed records as well as dominating other top horses.  One race he did not leave the gate, he stayed put. That is when Fitzsimmons sent the horse back to the owner Phipps.  

        No one would take hard tack, even free.  Therefore, Phipps decided to breed Hard Tack with three of her own horses. One in particular named Swing On.  She was a melon-kneed horse who never raced. Phipps hoped she would have three racehorses without the temper. Swing On’s son was Seabiscuit. No one thought much of Seabiscuit but Fitzsimmons took him to train. The three colts all looked the same except Grog was a hair shorter and the three were inseparable.

        Seabiscuit did not have the temper of his father. He spent a lot of his time sleeping. Most horses sleep standing up but Seabiscuit slept laying down almost every time possibly because he could not lock his knees.  He slept so deeply that the grooms had trouble getting him to stand up. Seabiscuit was easygoing and loved to eat. His career did not look good because he was slow.  It was hard to get him to run.  It was as if he was able to run but did not want to unless you forced him. His father had raged; Seabiscuit was amused!

        Fitzsimmons wanted to foil Seabiscuit’s plan so he paired Seabiscuit with the fastest yearling, Faust, and had the exercise partner use a stick as a whip. This broke Fitzsimmons no whip rule.  After being whipped, Seabiscuit blew by Faust, and had an amazing time of 22 and 2/5 seconds.  It was not that Seabiscuit could not run, but it was that he did not want to because he was lazy. Fitzsimmons kept using the whip on Seabiscuit because it made him run instead of being lazy. Since Seabiscuit slept more than other horses and he was unusually smart, they began to run him very hard.  

Seabiscuit began racing at a very early age because every January all the horses were considered a year older, but he was born in late May 1933. Therefore, in January 1935, he was considered two even though he was about one and a half, so he could race.  In his first race he got fourth which was not good, enough so he was put up for sale, but no one wanted him. Occasionally he would have Hard Tack’s speed, but then it would disappear. After his first year of racing, he had been in thirty-five races and was showing signs of being burnout. Phipps tried to sell Seabiscuit. In June 1936 at Massachusetts’s Suffolk Downs Seabiscuit finally laid eyes on Tom Smith.

Marcela and Charles Howard bet on a measly looking horse.  Howard said he would win, Marcela begged to differ. The horse won and Howard wanted Smith to look at the horse.  So Smith went to Fitzsimmons and asked to see the horse, it was Seabiscuit. Howard said he wanted him if he preformed well at his next race. Smith was nervous because Seabiscuit does not run well in mud, but he pulled through that race to a win. Howard then bought Seabiscuit and gave him to Marcela.  

August 1936, Seabiscuit walked his last lap around the Fitzsimmons barn. Fitzsimmons did not even know Seabiscuit sold. Smith was eager to get Seabiscuit there, and he did not say much, but everyone knew that the horse was special to Smith. Smith’s next job was to find a jockey.

Literary Elements-

  • “Man o’ War lost only once in his career- to a colt coincidentally named Upset- a defeat that still ranks among the most shocking in sports history.” (pg. 42)

This is a form of irony because it was a major upset when Man o’ War lost to a horse named Upset!

        Significant Quotes-

  • “The colt was a descendant of the mighty Man o’ War through his sire, the brilliantly fast, exceptionally handsome Hard Tack, but his stunted build reflected none of the beauty and breath of his forebears.  The colt’s body, built low to the ground, had all the properties of a cinder block. Where Hard Tack had been tall, sleek, tapered, every line suggesting motion, his son was blunt, coarse, rectangular, 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 motion that was often mistaken for lameness. Asked to run, he would drop low over the track and fall into a comical version of what horsemen call an eggbeater fait, making a spastic sideways flailing motion with his left foreleg as he swung it forward, as if he were swatting at flies.  His gallop was so disorganized that he had a maddening tendency to whack himself in the front ankle with his own hind hoof.  One observer compared his action to a duck waddle.” (Pg. 40)

This is significant because it describes how Seabiscuit was anything but a racehorse.  It describes how he was the underdog and unlikely to win ever.  



Raiment- noun; Clothing (pg. 38)

Rough-hewn- verb; To shape roughly (pg. 39)

Rigor- noun; Strictness (pg. 40)

Encumbrances- noun; A burden or impediment (pg. 41)

Paragon- noun; A model or pattern of excellence or of a particular excellence (pg. 42)

Malevolence- noun; Malicious behavior (pg. 42)

Bequeathed- verb; To pass (something) on to another or hand down (pg. 42)

Cherubic- noun; A beautiful or innocent person (pg. 43)

Consummate- verb; To bring to a state of perfection or fulfill (pg. 43)

Recalcitrance- adjective; Resisting authority or control (pg. 43)

Miscreants- noun; An evildoer or a villain (pg. 43)

Diminutive- adjective; Small (pg. 45)

Bovine- adjective; Cow like (pg. 45)

Torpor- noun; Sluggish inactivity or inertia (pg. 45)

Amiable- adjective; Having or showing pleasant, good-natured personal qualities (pg. 46)

Ineptitude- noun; Quality or condition of being without skill or aptitude for a particular task or assignment (pg. 46)

Docile- adjective; Easily managed or handled (pg. 46)

Obstreperous- adjective; Resisting control or restraint in a difficult manner (pg. 46)

Audacity- noun; Boldness or daring (pg. 53)

Akin- adjective; Related by blood (pg. 53)

Grit- noun; Abrasive particles or granules (pg. 54)

Chapter 4; The Cougar and The Iceman;




                Red Pollard, many called him Johnny, was a jockey whose career was failing.  He was statistically one of the worst riders around. He was once the best but those years were far behind him.  He had no money and no home. He lived in empty horse stalls while carrying only a few possessions.  Pollard grew up in Edmonton, Alberta.  Many knew that he would not stay in their town for long.  Pollard’s father was just like him, always trying to get out of where they were.  In Edmonton, Pollard’s father found the ground was perfect for making brick. He later made it big in the brick industry.

                The family’s cousins came to live with them because Pollard’s father’s brother came to work with the bricks. Pollard, born in 1909, grew up in a very different household. He had seven siblings in addition to his cousins.  In the Pollard home, there were many books, songs sung, jigs danced, and long stories spun. Tragedy struck in 1915 when the Saskatchewan River boiled up in a flash flood ruining the factory.  They were completely broke.  

                Pollard was athletic. His father would take Pollard and his brother Bill down to the community boxing ring.  Bill fought in the Golden Gloves, while Pollard was one scrappy fighter. Pollard was also very intellectual.  He loved literature and even memorized some of the verses.  In a classroom, he would do very poorly because he wanted to explore the wider world.  Johnny Pollard was a caged bird.

                Johnny Pollard’s dad had managed to buy them a horse that could help make money.  They made grocery deliveries on it.  Pollard discovered he had a gift for riding.  That is when he decided he wanted to become a jockey. Pollard began to go to local stables, trading his labor for a chance to ride.  When he asked to go out in the racing circuit, his mother was frightened and his dad all for it.  They made a deal that if he would go he would have to have a guardian that was a friend of the family.  He started in Butte, Montana at the local bullring racetrack.  It had bottom-level thoroughbreds and quarter horses. They did two types of starts, the “lap and tap”, where the horse walked the other way until they heard go, and then they would whip around and race. In addition, they put simple webbing, which was rigged, and would spring up, at the start of a race. The purses were smaller than that to shoe a horse, about $1.40. He just arrived when his guardian disappeared, leaving him all by himself and 15.  He began trying to talk his way on the horses. He was 5’7 and 101 pounds making him light enough to ride.  The locals became so fond of the boy that they nicknamed him Red.  It was a rough place to start.  Many jockeys would do anything to win. They would grab onto other horses, punch other jockeys, cheat in many ways, and many other evil ways.  He was on the verge of starving so he did what he knew how to do, box.  He went to the carnival bullrings and fought with the name of “Cougar.”  Many started to call him that around the stables and he loved it.  He named every dog he ever had Cougar.  It was a year and he had not won.

                Asa C. “Acey” Smith, a traveling gypsy trainer, saw promise in Pollard and signed him.  He finally won a race in 1926 in which he rode H. C. Basch.  Pollard was now a bug boy jockey. They did not earn much and lived in cots in stables.  Every purse they won, they barely saw any of the money.  Most jockeys were runaways, orphans, or had family problems.  Most were very young. Some started at age 12 when you legally the starting age was 16.   Some trainers became surrogate parents to their bug boys.  Some bug boys were beaten up by their trainers if they did not win.  Many bug boys were traded like slaves!   Pollard was lucky because Acey treated him well.  Pollard’s father came to watch him ride, but Pollard was not allowed to look at him during the race.  Jerry Duran, a blind trainer, hired Pollard as his jockey for a horse named Preservator. Preservator improved and actually started to win races. Many other horsemen were impressed with Pollard and started to hire him.  

A horseman named Freddie Johnson contacted Acey to try to buy Pollard.  He went for cheap and then belonged to Freddie Johnson. Johnson then handed Pollard over to his trainer, Russ McGirr.  McGirr realized that Pollard had a rare skill. Pollard rode horses others were afraid to go near, he could calm nervous horses, and he could keep a horse relaxed.  Pollard became known as a specialist troubled horses.  Pollard was a pushover and everyone knew where to go and borrow a few bucks. He never had the heart to ask for the money back.  

George Monroe Woolf was the perfect cowboy, the ten-gallon hat, the fringed leather jackets, and ornate breeches.  Woolf was born riding horses.  His mother was in labor with him and his father asked the doctor how long it would take before Woolf could ride horses.  Woolf worked for Johnson as well.  In 1927, Lewis Theodore “Whitey” Whitehill spotted Woolf.  Johnson traded the boy for a horse.  He was something to watch. He looked like he was a part of the horse.  Woolf was nicknamed “Iceman” by Joe Hernandez. Woolf developed a race-preparation technique in which he would visualize the race before it happened.  He then retired due to a bad race.  He went to Canada to fish and hunt but eventually came back to race.  Woolf always had a smile on his face and was unfazed by everything.   Woolf knew he was the best and took advantage of it.  He woke up at twelve when most jockeys wake up at four.  He knew when to do the right thing at the right time. He did things when he wanted to, for instance if he wanted to take a day off, he would just leave.  He would delay the start and send a friend to sit near Whitey to see his face turn white, and he still won.  Woolf rode for more than a decade without losing until a photo finish of a stakes race.  Woolf and Pollard were good friends and both joked around.  

Significant Quote-

  • “Big head, little ass, and roars like a lion”-Red Pollard (Pg. 75)

Seabiscuit is exactly that.  He is small and has a big ego.  The Biscuit seems like he is a bad racer but he knows he is great and he flaunts it.  

Literary Elements-

  • “Big head, little ass, and roars like a lion”-Red Pollard (Pg. 75)

This is another form of irony because he is small and seems worthless but really, he is strong and knows it.


Pendulous- adjective; Hanging down loosely (pg. 59)

Wanderlust- noun; A strong, innate desire to rove or travel about (pg. 60)

Penury- noun; Extreme poverty (pg. 61)

Withers- noun; The highest part of the back at the base of the neck of a horse (pg. 62)

Torrential- adjective; Pertaining to a violent, tumultuous, or overwhelming flow (pg. 62)

Tutelage- noun; The act of guarding, protecting, or guiding (pg. 68)

Devoid- adjective; Not possessing, untouched by, void, or destitute (pg. 69 & 73)

Geriatric- adjective; Pertaining to old age (pg. 69)

Ailing- adjective; Unsound or troubled (pg. 69)

Signet- noun; A small seal (pg. 70)

Gabardine- noun; a firm, tightly woven fabric of worsted, cotton, polyester, or other fibers, with twill weave (pg. 70)

Insouciant- adjective; unconcerned, undisturbed (pg. 73)

Soiree- noun; an evening party or social gathering (pg. 74)

Chapter 5; A Boot On One Foot, A Toe Tag On The Other;



        On a Saturday afternoon in July 1938, a young hungry teenager was sitting at a bus station in Columbus, Ohio.  A police officer came up to see what was wrong, but the boy did not talk.  He found documents on the boy that said he was Thomas Dowell, a local jockey.  He took Dowell in because he was in misery, the police officer took him to the station and a police surgeon sat with him to see what was wrong.  They put him in a holding cell for fear he something could happen if he was let go. The officer left. Dowell took his belt off and hung himself to death.  When the other jockeys heard about his suicide, no one seemed surprised. They all knew that jockeys suffered more for their sport than any other did. Whether there was no food, torturing yourself to stay at a low weight, or pressures to win, there was never a way to escape it.  

        They called the scale “the Oracle,” because it had the power to let you ride a horse or not. The Oracle was the scale that weighed the jockeys.  If you were too heavy, you would not be able to ride certain horses.  Most jockeys would do anything to stay in the weight limit.  The lighter they were, the more horses they could ride. A few riders were teenagers that had not gone through puberty yet and were naturally tiny.  To make sure that trainers were not wasting their time they measured foot size, if the foot was big a growth spurt was still to come, and they measured their siblings.  Some tried to fool the scale by blurting out the reading or not standing completely on the scale but partly on the nonregistering part of the scale. The jockeys went on diets of just eggs or just two dried out pieces of lettuce. They would not drink water because it was too heavy.  They would puncture a tiny hole in the top of soda cans so they could not get more then a few drops when drinking. Many riders turned to bulimia and some chewed gum to trigger salivation.  Some jockeys, like Red Pollard and George Woolf, would wear warm gear and run out on the track in the blazing sun to loose weight.  Then there were Turkish baths, where jockeys would come together and sweat. Most jockeys turned to laxatives.  Diarrhea was well known with many jockeys.  

        Doctor Frank “Frenchy” Hawley that worked at the track kept every type of weight-loss facilitator, electric blankets, infrared lamps, electric light cabinets, baking machines, “violet-rays”, vibrating contraptions, and rubber sheets and sleeping bags.  He also made a disgusting recipe to make riders gag.  He kept records of how much weight he had stripped from riders and by 1945, it was about 12,860!  He next devised a potion to get the bowels to move down and out regularly and fast.  It worked so well he marketed it as Slim Jim.  Many jockeys fear Slim Jim because it was so potent that some bottles had blown up in the jockeys’ room.  

         Some jockeys went as far as getting a capsule that contains a tapeworm.  The tapeworm would attach itself to the jockey’s intestines and it would suck the nutrients out of their body making the body loose weight but become malnourished.  If the jockey became too malnourished, they could check in a hospital and have it removed.

        Many jockeys were in bad shape because of this. Some lost 10 to 13 pounds the night before a big race and were too weak to ride.  This damaged them in the end.  Fitzsimmons lost 13 pounds in one night that he triggered arthritis. Many jockeys even fell into depression.

        Jockeys are considered the most athletic people.  They have to have balance, coordination, and reflex.  Race riding is extremely tiring. Many dismount the horse rubber-legged.  One jockey once won a race with three people on his back after saving them when they fell off.  A jockey is more than a passenger; they have to have a strategy to win.  They must time each lap so that the horse is ready to battle when the time comes.  Another strategy is how close they should get to the rail.  If they are too far out, they run much more than the horses on the inside.  If on the inside, it becomes jam packed with other horses.

        A jockey had a dangerous job.  They risked becoming hurt every time they got on a horse. They could get there ankle crushed, knee torn, fall off and be trampled, some in the early thirties, when the starting gates were spears, were actually speared to death, and many other ways.  The most dangerous was falling off a horse. “Clipping Heels” happened very often.  It would be when a trail horse would step on a leading horse’s hooves and the trail horse and jockey would go into a somersault.  Some times it was like dominos where there was a horse and jockey pile-up.  A study said that the average jockey was hurt about three times a year with 8 weeks off the job because of injury.  See Pages 90-97 for stories of jockeys being hurt! Many trainers would fire a jockey if they knew they were badly hurt, so many jockeys pretended as if they were not hurt.  


  •  “He insisted that he was going to ride his one remaining mount. The incredulous stewards refused and insisted that he return to the hospital.  Neves refused. He came back the next day loaded for bear.  While San Franciscans were reading his obituary in several papers, the decidedly undead Neves rode like a man possessed, finishing second or third on all five of his mounts.” (Pg. 92 and 93)    
  •  ““I got my leg broken once and my skull fractured once,” said former rider Wad Studley, “but never nothin’ bad.”” (Pg. 93)

These two quotes are significant because it goes to show how jockeys need and love racing that they completely ignore their injuries and what seems would be ridiculously painful to us, it nothing in the jockey world.


Anomaly- noun; A deviation from the common rule, type, arrangement, or form (Pg. 80)

Echelons- noun; A level of responsibility or authority in a hierarchy; a rank (Pg. 80)

Myopic- adjective; Lacking tolerance or understanding; narrow-minded (Pg. 81)

Desiccation- verb; To dry thoroughly or dehydrate (Pg. 82)

Parboiling- verb; To subject to intense, often uncomfortable heat (Pg. 83)

Innocuous- adjective; Harmless (Pg. 83)

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Jalap- noun; The dried tuberous root of any of several plants (Pg. 84)

Subtleties- noun; Delicacy or nicety of character or meaning (Pg. 87)

Cadence- noun; To make rhythmical (Pg. 87)

Erratic- adjective; Having no certain or definite course (Pg. 88)

Euphemism- noun; The substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt (Pg. 88)

Grisliest- adjective; Causing a shudder or feeling of horror (Pg. 93)

Striated- adjective; Striped or streaked (Pg. 94)


I have a feeling that since this chapter talks about how dangerous a jockey’s job is, ...

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