“A horse is a horse, of course, of course.
But who would you be if you were a horse?
A horse who ran Life’s Race on course?
What would be your name?
Caballo’s the Press, pub-lish-ing source
That asks your race name if you were a horse.
A prize awaits, a book, of course!
Please tell us your name!”
(I offer my sincere apologies to Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, the composers who wrote the “Mr. Ed” theme song in 1961, for hacking up their beloved ditty.)
Most of us who adore horses, especially Thoroughbreds (or Arabians or Quarter Horses, for that matter–any horse who races, right?)–have at one time or another fancied ourselves as a sleek, gorgeous, well-muscled, shiny-coated steed. Running Life’s Race, feeling the solid Earth (real dirt, thank you) under our perfectly-formed hooves. With the wind blowing through our manes, we cross the finish line first–at least in these fantasies, we are free and we always win…
Caballo Press of Ann Arbor is an equine book publisher, but not just any publisher. Dr. Rudolph Valier Alvarado is the President of Caballo Press, and he happens to be an author. His first book out of the gate, “The Untold Story of Joe Hernandez: the Voice of Santa Anita” is a spectacular homage to a pioneer in American racing. The book is beautifully-packaged, elegantly presented and thoughtfully written. And, oh, yes: this first book just happened to win the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award (renamed in 2008 for the founder of Castleton Lyons Farm, and still presented by Castleton Lyons and Thoroughbred Times every April.) The 2009 recipient of the award was Dr. Alvarado, as his beautiful missive was acknowledged as being the best book in horse racing.
Pretty heady stuff, when you consider the competition in the world of equine publishing, and the authors whose works are nominated. Renowned mystery writer, Dick Francis and his son, Felix, were finalists this year. Alvarado is traveling in some pretty impressive company. He may be relatively new in the equine book authoring game, and perhaps its that newness, his utter lack of cynicism that often comes with involvement in this sport–whatever his formula, it works. He created a book that is more than a mere “good read”–and I will review it fully here in just a few days.
Yes, of course, I have a copy of “The Untold Story of Joe Hernandez…” It happens that I won a limited edition version of the book, complete with CD, that of 30 of Hernandez’ race calls. This gift is a treasure, I adore it–and, psssssssssssssst, I’m here to tell how you can win one, too.
Dr. Alvarado and Caballo Press want to know–they really do!–what your name would be if you were a racehorse. Seemingly-simple request, eh? But anyone who knows anything about Thoroughbreds, in particular, knows that pedigree, temperament, sentiment–many factors can come into play when naming a horse. It’s not by mere random coincidence that great names that truly represent a horse–and that sound otherworldly when being screamed by a worshiping throng–are bestowed upon them by their owners after much serious thought and consideration of the horse’s attributes.
“Alydar,” for example, was given that beautiful, strong name by his owner, Lucille P. Markey (who happened to own Calumet Farm) to honour her dear friend, Prince Ali Solomone Aga Khan (known informally as Aly Khan). The Prince served the world as Vice President of the U.N. General Assembly, and died in 1960–but before he passed, he was loved and respected by many people, including Ms. Markey. Her affectionate nickname for her friend was, “Aly, Darling.” “Aly, Darling” = “Aly, Dar” = Alydar. A sentimental, lovely homage to a great man and trusted comrade.
(I maintain that horses with goofy names will never become Champions. Emotionally stunted people who don’t understand horses, who don’t get it that horses are sentient beings who know when a human is making fun of them, go for the stupid name. Mark my words: if you want to doom your horse to insecurity and oblivion and absolute obscurity, register a name like, “Dummie” with the Jockey Club. A horse named “I’m a Moron” will never win the Dubai World Cup. Guaranteed.)
Your Life path may have taken you down some painful trails. You may be soaring like an eagle right now, and your relationship with horses contribute to that remarkable high. You may identify very strongly with your role as a woman, a man, a Mother, professor, pastry chef, midwife, engineer, vintner. Horses very likely played a role in you getting this far in Life–that is, still alive. You may not win a particular race in your Life, but you will go to the wire with all your heart, soul and guts.
Whatever your horsey name, Caballo Press of Ann Arbor would like you to visit their website and tell them your name, and why. And submit a photo, also. The names chosen will become part of “Horsenameoraphies: Life Stories in Race Horse Names by Horse Lovers Everywhere.” This fun, fascinating book that will be released in 2010–and you can be part of the excitement. Your horsey name can be in print, preserved for time and eternity: you may never see your horsey name in the program for the Belmont Stakes–but you can be immortalized in a book that will be referenced and enjoyed for generations to come.
(I wish that the contest rules allowed us to enter a horsey name for another person, as an honor to that soul. I would submit the name, “Baker’s Dozen” for Karen, my beloved friend of 41 years. The name fits her to a T because, from the perspective of anyone who knows her, Karen is an Alumna of the Culinary Institute of America. She holds a degree as a Pastry Chef: NO ONE on the planet bakes as well as she. But that’s not the whole reason for “Baker’s Dozen”–anyone who knows Karen also knows that she is generous, kind and loving above and beyond. She always goes that extra mile, for everyone in her circle. If 12 cookies are good, 13 is better. Karen is submitting a name to the contest, one that she created and loves. Besides being a gifted Pastry Chef, she’s gifted with language and is witty as all get-out.)
Whether you are Alydar, OhMyGodSeven! or The Alpha Mare–your Life story can be summed up in one name. One perfect name that resonates with your soul and with everyone who knows you. I urge you to go to the website for Caballo Press, and submit your horsey name, today. And, oh, yeah, while you’re there, scroll down to the bottom of the “Horsenameographies…” page, I’m there. Let’s share this great opportunity, that of being brazen enough to trot out the names that we’ve always known define our identities. For some, it may take guts to say, “Yes, that’s me.” For others, this chance of a lifetime has been a long time coming. Muster all your intestinal fortitude–no colic allowed!–and play this version of Show and Tell. One name a week will be randomly chosen to win Dr. Alvarado’s book, the best racing book in America. As soon as next week–it could be you.
As always, May the Horse be with you!
Note Well! Those of you who will be at the 2009 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita have the opportunity to meet Dr. Alvarado, purchase a copy of “The Untold Story of Joe Hernandez: the Voice of Santa Anita” and get it autographed! The Borders in the mall right in front of Santa Anita is hosting Dr. Alvarado for a book signing on November 6th and 7th, from 11AM to 1PM each day. What a great way to celebrate the long, storied history of Santa Anita Park; the horses who made history there; and Joe Hernandez, whose role as a prominent Latino in a sport that wasn’t ready for his presence opened doors and changed history. If you’re at Santa Anita on BC weekend and don’t meet Rudolp Alvarado, you’ll regret it. I’m tempted to hop a jet to California just for the privilege of having my book signed (again), at the very place where Joe Hernandez worked his magic. And to meet the man who captured the spirit of the man and the time–and picked up the most prestigious award in racing writing at the same time. 🙂
[Photo credits: SOULSAVER and OhMyGodSeven! (Dr. Rudolph Valier Alvarado), courtesy of Caballo Press of Ann Arbor. Photo of Karen with Show Me the Cash, The Alpha Mare. Photos of MommyMommyMommy and Airspace Goddess, courtesy of Caballo Press of Ann Arbor. Thank you!]