He was the perfect horse, it was said, “the horse God built.”
Most of us know the legend of Secretariat, the tall, handsome chestnut racehorse whose string of honors runs long and rich: the only two-year-old ever to win Horse of the Year, in 1972; winner in 1973 of the Triple Crown, his times in all three races still unsurpassed; featured on the cover of Time, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated; the only horse listed on ESPN’s top fifty athletes of the twentieth century (ahead of Mickey Mantle). His final race at Toronto’s Woodbine Racetrack is a touchstone memory for horse lovers everywhere. Yet while Secretariat will be remembered forever, one man, Eddie “Shorty” Sweat, who was pivotal to the great horse’s success, has been all but forgotten---until now.
In The Horse God Built, bestselling equestrian writer Lawrence Scanlan has written a tribute to an exceptional man that is also a backroads journey to a corner of the racing world rarely visited. As a young black man growing up in South Carolina, Eddie Sweat struggled at several occupations before settling on the job he was born for---groom to North America’s finest racehorses. As Secretariat’s groom, loyal friend, and protector, Eddie understood the horse far better than anyone else. A wildly generous man who could read a horse with his eyes, he shared in little of the financial success or glamour of Secretariat’s wins on the track, but won the heart of Big Red with his soft words and relentless devotion.
In Scanlan’s rich narrative, we get a groom’s-eye view of the racing world and the vantage of a man who spent every possible moment with the horse he loved, yet who often basked in the horse’s glory from the sidelines. More than anything else, The Horse God Built is a moving portrait of the powerful bond between human and horse.