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Dynasties: Great Thoroughbred Stallions, by Edward L. Bowen

March 15, 2011

I have a great copy of the hardcover book, Dynasties: Great Thoroughbred Stallions, by Edward L. Bowen, copyright 2000 (first edition), which examines the evolution of the American Thoroughbred in the 20th century. Twenty-four of the most influential race horses are profiled in this highly recommended book. Intertwined in the stories of the horses are their breeders and/or owners, whose skill and care helped these horses rise to their peak of performance. These stallions helped the U.S. become the source of the world’s best race horses.

In the book’s introduction, Bowen writes,

“The horse, by Nature’s own decree, after all, was a creature who used his speed to evade his enemies. The attributes of gameness and generosity are something else. They are a bit more of man’s making, or so we compliment ourselves in wanting to believe, and therein lies the sweet mystery of the racehorse. The Thoroughbred is bred to run, to race, and so the quality of being ‘game’ is something this creature understands, because that is what we have sought for more than 300 years. The will and determination to turn away others, to be ‘generous’ in his striving to win the race, are hallmarks of this breed’s competitive fire.”

The horses discussed include early 20th c. stallions Fair Play and the infamous Hyperion and their affect on American racing. The mid-20th century golden era of racing is discussed, describing how stallions Bull Lea, Blenheim II, and Sir Gallahad III, among others, helped the U.S. become the source of the world’s best racehorses. Their descendants, including Northern Dancer and Native Dancer, have transformed the commercial market for Thoroughbreds in the last three decades.

This book contains a lot of great photographs of the influential horses. The 24 stallions profiled are: Commando, Star Shoot, Fair Play, Sir Gallahad III, Challenger II, Blenheim II, Hyperion, Bull Lea, Princequillo, Rough’n Tumble, Nearco, Nasrullah, Bold Ruler, Hail to Reason, Blusing Groom, Ribot, Native Dancer, Mr. Prospector, Northern Dancer, Nijinsky II, Nureyev, Danzig, Sadler’s Wells, and Storm Cat. Owners and breeders, such as the Aga Khan, Federico Tesio, William Woodward, and Arthur Hancock, are highlighted too. Dynasties is the perfect companion to Bowen’s previous best-selling book Matriarchs: Great Mares of the 20th Century. A fascinating and important book, my copy of Dynasties is in excellent condition, unread, with a tight binding.

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