Book Reviews

The Fast Ride: and the Undoing of A Sure Thing

Book review at Knup Sports

The Fast Ride author Jack Gilden gives us the untold story of how Spectacular Bid, a sure thing, lost the third leg of the Triple Crown. But before he got there, he took us on a historical path of the politics of Baltimore and the inside workings of the famed Pimlico Race Course.

Spectacular Bid was the most famous racehorse of his time and for many future generations. The horse made history many steps along the journey of his storied career with a run of twelve consecutive stakes victories. The first two legs of the Triple Crown, Kentucky Derby and Preakness were easy wins for this horse. Something unique took place after that.

This book goes into depth the life of s few of the famed jockeys of the time such as Angel Cordero, Jr. Jacinto Vasquez, Georgie Velasquez and Ruben Hernandez. However, the star of this time is teenager Ronnie Franklin. Franklin is a small young boy from the poor part of town that can’t keep a job and is bullied almost everywhere he goes until he meets fast-talking,slick and unscrupulous horse trainer Buddy Delp. Delp gets him jockey training and through the urging of others gives him a shot on a unruly horse called Spectacular Bid.

There is an immediate bond between the jockey and horse and instant success is realized. Racism and jealousy overtakes many other longtime jockeys who don’t like a kid getting the shot of a lifetime and racism and societal ugliness permeates everywhere Ronnie goes. Three things happen in Ronnie’s favor and those are “The Bid” owner, the Meyerhofff family, supports him as he is making them money, Buddy Delp supports him as he is making Buddy famous as a trainer and Buddy’s son is Ronnie’s best friend.

Drug use permeates the clubhouse and at home where Ronnie is living and it tends to get in the way many times in this saga.The thing is no matter what outside force is happening, “The Bid’ and Ronnie Franklin keep winning, they win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and now set up to be the greatest combo ever with a Triple Crown win at Belmont Stakes.

The untold story is revealed to us as to what happened that weekend to alter horse racing history. Every sports fan needs this book on their shelf to enjoy and to hear the results of this day in racing and how the future is altered for all involved.

Thank you to the University of Nebraska Press for sending me a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. The book is very good read and well researched.


About the Author: Jack Gilden is a past winner of the Simon Rockower journalism award. He is the author of Collision of Wills: Johnny Unitas, Don Shula and the Rise of Modern NFL (Nebraska 2018).He also consults for businesses about their messaging and teaches journalism and composition at the college level.


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