Saturday, May 05, 2007

Perfect Timing

Perfect Timing: How Isaac Murphy became one of the world's greatest jockeys
, by Patsi B. Trollinger; paintings by Jerome Lagarrigue; Viking, 2006

Today is Derby Day which seems like the perfect day to share this book. Isaac Murphy was a three time Kentucky Derby winner and is the only jockey buried on the grounds of the famous Kentucky Horse Park.

Author, Patsi Trollinger makes the point that Isaac Burns Murphy's timing was perfect in life as well as on the track. The son of a slave, he lived at a time when black jockeys could enjoy a successful career in racing, before they were forced out of the sport early in the 20th century.

Trollinger describes his career beginning with his early training in Lexington where he learned the importance of pace and concentration. Murphy went on to become one of the most sought after jockeys of his time. The exciting match race between Salvatore and Tenny is told in such detail that the reader feels like they are standing at the rail watching the race.

Jerome Lagarrigue's soft focus paintings convey the speed and power of the horses. The colors are dark and muddied which imparts the yesteryear feel of the story. The reader eyes do need to linger on the pictures to fully appreciate and discern the images.

Isaac Burns Murphy had a reputation for honesty and fair play.

"He had rules for himself that were firm: no cheating, no fighting, no swearing. And he rode every race, large of small, as if it was the most important one of his life."
This is a lovely tribute to a man of character and who might otherwise be unknown to this generation.

International Museum of the Horse
The Kentucky Derby 2007

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