Early sales encouraging for Westsider's horse-racing book
Westside writer Robert L. Shoop - "Down to the Wire: The Lives of the Triple Crown Champions," was released last
week by his publisher, Russell Dean & Co.
Shoop, 49, a lawyer and a teacher at two area colleges, is a 38-year resident of Colorado Springs. He graduated from Cheyenne Mountain High School and Colorado College. He and his wife, Toni, live in the Villa de Mesa neighborhood of Gold Hill.
Initial sales have been encouraging. Shoop said that roughly half the 5,200 copies in the first printing were pre-sold before Christmas.
The book tells the behind-the-scenes stories of the 11 horses to win the Triple Crown (the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes.) A press kit includes commendations about the book from such people as Robert J. Wussler, president and CEO of Ted Turner Pictures; Tom Gilcoyne, historian at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame; and Frank Deford, a well-known sports journalist. Triple Crown-winning jockies Jean Cruget (Seattle Slew) and Ron Turcotte (Secretariat), wrote the introduction and foreword, respectively.
According to the publisher's press kit, the book is "chock full of insider details to delight the race fan and drama to fire the reader's enthusiasm for the sport."
The publication is a culmination of 4 ½ years of work and a flash of good fortune - the great success of Laura Hillenbrand's 2000 book about a popular racehorse from the 1930s, "Seabiscuit." A movie based on the book went on to become one of 2003's most popular movies.
According to Shoop, he finished "Down to the Wire"in the late '90s and, although Russell Dean was interested, the company had no immediate plans to publish it.
"Then 'Seabiscuit' came up and blew everybody away," Shoop said. When he contacted Dean about the book two years ago, an editor said he would look at the book again. He called back "a couple of months later," Shoop recalled, "and said, 'I want this book.'"
Shoops' efforts on the book included interviews with living Triple Crown jockeys, trainers and owners, as well as research from memoirs, press reports and contemporary accounts. The book contains 46 illustrations from private collections. There are also lengthy appendices, bibliography and an index.
He's not a horseman himself, but "I've always been a sports fan, a history fan," Shoop said. "He said the idea for the book was sparked by a videotape he saw in the early '90s, titled "Jewels of the Triple Crown." "I was so fascinated I almost had to take a 12- step recovery program. I'm not fooling. I'd just keep watching it. It had newsreels going back to 1920 and still photos before that."
The video made him want to know more about the subject. But no ready materials could be found. "So I said to msyelf, 'Fine write your own book,'" Shoop said.
"Down to the Wire" can be ordered through local bookshops, amazon.com, and www.exclusivelyequine.com. A book signing is planned at Chinook Bookshop on Sunday, Feb. 15, at 1 p.m.
He is already at work on another horse-racing book. He said it's a topic that came out of his "Down to the Wire" research - a true crime story connected with the Triple Crown.
Westside Pioneer Article