Churchill Downs is the epicenter of Kentucky’s equine heritage and the most storied racetrack in the world. More than a thousand workers come to the backside of Churchill Downs on any given day during a meet. Before sunrise, seven days a week, stable hands, hot walkers, grooms, outriders, jockeys, and more tend to the well-being of the horses and the track. Most will never stand in the Winner’s Circle. There could be no Kentucky Derby without their contributions. Better Lucky Than Good is the most caring, in-depth look into the lives and stories of equine workers ever published–and it was written by the people who live and work on the backside of Churchill Downs.
The book’s 32 authors include grooms, hot walkers, exercise riders, a clocker, an outrider, assistant trainers, a jockey, a starting gate crew member, a pony person, a horticulturist, a silks seamstress, shedrow foremen, a tack and saddle man, a security guard, a horse tattooer, trainers, an alcohol and drug abuse counselor, a farm manager, a chaplaincy associate, and many more.
“Every person I know who has ever ‘written a horse book,’ or worked extensively as a journalist covering the world of the track, has at some point had a version of this thought: If somebody would just do a good oral history, interviewing the people who actually work with the horses–the grooms and riders and ferriers and assistant trainers, the folks on the “backside”–it would be worth 10,000 pages of even the best literary description of the sport. Now the Louisville Story Program has done this, and done it beautifully. It’s no exaggeration to say that this book has needed to exist for 200 years.”–John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead and Blood Horses
Softcover 310 pages
As the home of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs is the epicenter of Kentucky’s equine heritage and the most storied racetrack in the world. More than a thousand people come to work on the backside of the track on any given day during a racing meet. Most of the hot walkers, grooms, exercise riders, jockeys, and other equine workers who dedicate their lives and careers to horse racing will never stand in the Winner’s Circle, but each of them is a member of a rich community with a long and storied tradition, one that most of us have never known. Better Lucky Than Good: Tall Tales and Straight Talk from the Backside of the Track will change that. Louisville Story Program took three years to engage backside workers and residents of South Louisville in conversations and a collaboration that has led to the most caring, in-depth look into the lives and stories of equine workers ever published. Authored by thirty-two people who live and work on the backside, Better Lucky Than Good represents the first time in the history of American thoroughbred racing that equine workers have documented their own lives and experiences for the public.