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The Ghost Horse

A True Story of Love, Death, and Redemption

Joe Layden

St. Martin's Press

In The Ghost Horse, Joe Layden tells the inspiring true tale of a one-eyed, club-footed thoroughbred racehorse and a journeyman trainer, Tim Snyder, who scraped together every penny he had to purchase the broken and unwanted filly. Snyder helped the horse overcome its deficiencies, eventually naming her in part after his deceased wife, Lisa, the great and only love of his life—a bright and sweet-tempered woman whose gentle demeanor seemed eerily reflected in the horse. The trainer (and now owner) was by nature a crusty and combative sort, the yin to his wife’s yang, a racetrack lifer not easily moved by new-age mysticism or sentiment. And yet in those final days back in 2003, when Lisa Snyder lay in bed, her body ravaged by cancer, she reassured her family with a weak smile. “It’s okay,” she’d say. “I’ll see you again. I’m coming back as a horse.”

Tim Snyder did not then believe in reincarnation. But he acknowledged the strangeness of this journey, the series of coincidences that brought them together, and the undeniable similarities between the horse and his late wife. And so did those who knew the couple well, and who could now only marvel at the story of the filly, Lisa’s Booby Trap, and the down-on-his-luck trainer who apparently had been given a new lease on life.

The Ghost Horse is a powerful horseracing story of underdogs and second chances.

BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
 

Restlessness gets in your blood.
Whether by genetics or circumstance, the tug of the open road, the need to keep moving and changing, fighting the urge to settle down—to avoid getting close enough to anyone who might encourage roots to sprout—is felt more strongly by some than by others. In the case of Tim Snyder, it could certainly be argued that the odd romance of the racetrack life, as weird and nomadic as the circus it sometimes mirrors, was imprinted on his DNA, and reinforced at every step thereafter.
His grandfather, Earl Snyder, had been a
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REVIEWS

Praise for The Ghost Horse

The Ghost Horse is a heart-warming tale, artfully told, that has all the ingredients of a racing saga—one that braids together, in a single bittersweet drama, the connecting threads of love and loneliness, grief and goodness, and death and despair, with moments of high triumph woven throughout. It is the story of a hard-bitten horseman who lost his wife but found the horse, a beautiful if off-bred filly, who helped carry him out of his place of mourning. Along the way, author Joe Layden vividly portrays life in the lowly bush leagues of American racing, with its hopes and dreams and struggles for survival. He has penned an easy winner here.” 

 

—William Nack, author of Secretariat and Ruffian: A Racetrack Romance

“I'll make you a little wager: Joe Layden's The Ghost Horse will go down as one of the most irresistible horseracing books ever written. It is a narrative that is by turns wrenchingly sad and staggeringly sweet, all of them skillfully negotiated by Layden, who takes us into the backstretch world with the firm hand and unerring feel of a master jockey.”

Wayne Coffey, author of the New York Times bestseller The Boys of Winter and co-author (with R.A. Dickey) of the bestseller Wherever I Wind Up: My Search for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball

"This is more than a lovely tale about how a hard luck horseman came to embrace New Age mysticism—it's a rollicking read about how magic and the mystifying thrive at the racetrack.”

—Joe Drape, author of the New York Times bestseller Our Boys

“I have always known that there were great stories at the race track, but as a casual observer I couldn't really find them. They were buried under a culture and language that I didn't understand. So here comes Joe Layden, and he is more than fluent in the language of the track. He not only has found a dandy story, he translates it for the rest of us and makes it sing. This is terrific stuff.”

—Leigh Montville, New York Times bestselling author of At the Altar of Speed, Ted Williams and The Big Bam

The Ghost Horse is a heart-warming tale, artfully told, that has all the ingredients of a racing saga—one that braids together, in a single bittersweet drama, the connecting threads of love and loneliness, grief and goodness, and death and despair, with moments of high triumph woven throughout. It is the story of a hard-bitten horseman who lost his wife but found the horse, a beautiful if off-bred filly, who helped carry him out of his place of mourning. Along the way, author Joe Layden vividly portrays life in the lowly bush leagues of American racing, with its hopes and dreams and struggles for survival. He has penned an easy winner here.” 

 

—William Nack, author of Secretariat and Ruffian: A Racetrack Romance

“I'll make you a little wager: Joe Layden's The Ghost Horse will go down as one of the most irresistible horseracing books ever written. It is a narrative that is by turns wrenchingly sad and staggeringly sweet, all of them skillfully negotiated by Layden, who takes us into the backstretch world with the firm hand and unerring feel of a master jockey.”

Wayne Coffey, author of the New York Times bestseller The Boys of Winter and co-author (with R.A. Dickey) of the bestseller Wherever I Wind Up: My Search for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball

"This is more than a lovely tale about how a hard luck horseman came to embrace New Age mysticism—it's a rollicking read about how magic and the mystifying thrive at the racetrack.”

—Joe Drape, author of the New York Times bestseller Our Boys

“I have always known that there were great stories at the race track, but as a casual observer I couldn't really find them. They were buried under a culture and language that I didn't understand. So here comes Joe Layden, and he is more than fluent in the language of the track. He not only has found a dandy story, he translates it for the rest of us and makes it sing. This is terrific stuff.”

—Leigh Montville, New York Times bestselling author of At the Altar of Speed, Ted Williams and The Big Bam

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Joe Layden

  • JOE LAYDEN is a multiple New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning journalist whose work has been honored by the New York Newspaper Publishers Association, the National Associated Press Sports Editors, the New York State Associated Press Association, and the International Reading Association/Children’s Book Council. Mr. Layden has written or co-written more than thirty books for adults and children.
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Available Formats and Book Details

The Ghost Horse

A True Story of Love, Death, and Redemption

Joe Layden

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

St. Martin's Press

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