A pointed and irreverent critique of thoroughbred racing’s breakdown, by a prominent journalist turned horse breeder
Jim Squires was in trouble. He had gone from one business seemingly intent on committing suicide to another, both led over the cliff by visionless leaders. First it was the newspaper bean-counters’ blind adherence to the demands of Wall Street. Then in horse racing it was a clannish group called “the Dinnies” refusing to share power and unable to see that vast overproduction and unbridled greed had created a subprime-like bubble in the market. Overpriced animals of dubious quality and drug-enhanced performance on the track were undermining the integrity of competition and ultimately the very breed itself. With its economic model broken, its tawdry sales practices under attack, and its public image in tatters after a series of televised fatal breakdowns by horses in famous races, the sport was overdue for a reckoning.
Headless Horsemen is Squires’s comic but poignant critique of what is happening to the sport and the animals he loves, as he and a small group of unlikely heroes agitate for a return to fair dealing. For anyone who cares about the soul and survival of horse racing, this book is an impassioned call to arms.
"Acerbic wit and an insider’s brazen take on the elusive horse-game."—Sam Shepard
"I laughed. I cried. I read this book a second time, and then I cried again. If you want to know how thoroughbred horse racing in the United States has destroyed itself, this is the book for you. If you want to know what is to be done, this is the book for you. I can’t recommend it highly enough."—Jane Smiley
"Jim Squires has written a sad and scathing and all-too-true story about the greed and obtuseness that are destroying the once glorious sport of thoroughbred horse racing and that are turning that most magnificent of God’s creatures -- the thoroughbred horse -- into a steroid-swollen dinosaur. The charlatans of the Kentucky breeding industry and at the New York Racing Association -- as well as their overpaid apologists -- should read every page of Squires’s indictment with heads hung in shame."—Joe McGinniss
"[A]n insider's stunning account of the corrupt practices that threaten both the horses and the game. . . . Squires' folksy style makes for an engrossing read."--Minneapolis Star Tribune
"[A] hilarious and informative look at the troubled condition of horse racing."--Publishers Weekly
"Exposes a thoroughbred horse-racing industry drowning in drug abuse and rife with unscrupulous business practices. . . . A well-told cautionary tale about greed and willful inattention."--Kirkus Reviews