But growing up, one of my favorite non-fiction books - and there weren't many - was the story of a racehorse whose track record was simply amazing - no pun intended!
My mom once connived with my 6th grade teacher to only allow me so many fiction books per non-fiction book read. You'd think she'd be happy I was reading, but I guess when you're whipping through Zane Grey, Walter Farley, Dick Francis, Robert B. Parker, Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys, and Louis L'Amour books at the rate of 20-30 a week, a few less fluffy titles wouldn't have killed me...At any rate, I did have a few lapses into reality, and this book was one of them.
Old Bones, the Wonder Horse by Mildred Mastin Pace
The story of Exterminator, one of the most famous Thoroughbred race horses of all time - his life may not be quite the Cinderella story it's made here, but as told, it does make a good book.Can't remember if Shan actually ate any of his cake or not (it was an eggless, sugarless, raisin-packed recipe - really yummy), but I sure had fun making it. And I'm guessing he probably did.
Unprepossessing as a youngster, the gangly gelding came out of nowhere to win the Derby by a length. He went on to win multiple stakes races, and dominated the racing world for several years in the 19-teens and twenties, even setting a couple of world records. His career was shadowed, however, by another racing great, Man O' War, although the two horses never raced against one another.
Unlike many high strung and anxious Thoroughbreds, 'Old Bones' as he was familiarly known, was placid and laid back when not racing, and traveled easily, which may help account for some of his racing success. Accompanied by his favorite stable pony, Peanuts, Old Bones lived to the grand old age of 30 (very old for a large horse breed), and his birthday was celebrated every year with the local children and plenty of carrot cake -- at least that's how the story goes.
Old Bones was one of my favorite horse books growing up, and remains a treasured afternoon read. I once baked a carrot cake for my own pony in his honor, and loved the fact that this horse story had a happy ending.
I have to say, my pony was quite the Hoover when it came to all sorts of odd people food. He'd practically beg for peanut butter & banana sandwiches or granola. Blueberry picking, he'd raid the filled buckets if I wasn't careful. And of course carrots & apples... Neither of which I can get Sunny to touch - isn't that odd?
At any rate, Old Bones has stuck with me through the years. I'll have to hunt down that carrot cake recipe, too!