The Best Horse Racing Books From a Former Trainer

Who am I?

Growing up, I was one of “those” horse-crazy girls who devoured every Black Stallion and Marguerite Henry book that I could get my hands on. At sixteen I began working at Atlantic City Racecourse in the summer and after I graduated college with a B.S. in Animal Science, I became a trainer of Thoroughbred racehorses. For thirteen wonderful years, I raced horses in New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. Due to my insider’s knowledge of the horse racing industry, I based my book selections on accuracy as well as story.


I wrote...

Racetrack Rogues: One Woman's Story of Family, Love, and Loss in the Horse Racing World

By Dawn LeFevre,

Book cover of Racetrack Rogues: One Woman's Story of Family, Love, and Loss in the Horse Racing World

What is my book about?

Nineteen-year-old Dahlia Leggett never dreamed that she’d wind up back at Garden State Park, training a ragtag stable of misfit Thoroughbreds. Or that she’d fall for Steve, the sexy son of legendary trainer Bill Bassett, her nemesis. But after the sudden death of her estranged mother Marilyn, it’s goodbye college and hello racetrack.

The books I picked & why

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Secretariat

By Raymond G. Woolfe Jr.,

Book cover of Secretariat

Why this book?

My late mother was a Secretariat junkie and this gorgeous oversized hardcover book only fueled her passion. Loaded with beautiful photos of arguably the most photogenic Thoroughbred in history, Secretariat is sheer horse lover eye-candy at its finest. Ah, but there’s also a wonderful story to go along with those pretty pictures – a true-life fairytale about one of the greatest racehorses of our time and the irrepressible team behind the wonder horse.


Ruffian: Burning from the Start

By Jane Schwartz,

Book cover of Ruffian: Burning from the Start

Why this book?

One look at Ruffian and you knew she was a star. Those long legs, that fire in her eye. And when she ran, it was nothing short of magic. Jane Schwartz captures the heart and soul of the brilliant filly from her wobbly first steps to her devastating last breath. And yes, this book will make you cry.


Seabiscuit: An American Legend

By Laura Hillenbrand,

Book cover of Seabiscuit: An American Legend

Why this book?

A true-life horse racing Rocky story set against the backdrop of the Great Depression. While the blurb may sound like something straight out of Disney, Hillenbrand doesn’t shy away from exposing the darker side of racing, especially when it comes to the mistreatment of jockeys and horses.


Bolt

By Dick Francis,

Book cover of Bolt

Why this book?

Actually, I could have chosen any of the Dick Francis mystery books for this list as they are wonderfully consistent in quality of writing and story. Plus, as a former steeple chase jockey, Francis knows horse racing. It’s surprising how many “horse books” out there get racing so wrong. I can’t count how many of his books I read while sitting in the barn waiting to race my own horses.


Black Gold

By Marguerite Henry,

Book cover of Black Gold

Why this book?

While I loved all of Marguerite’s horse books as a child this one was my favorite. This may be listed as a “children’s book” but the story is in no way “dumbed down” nor is the cruel treatment of Black Gold by his trainer glossed over. Featuring the charming illustrations of Wesley Dennis, Black Gold is a sweet but ultimately tragic underdog story.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in horse racing, racehorses, and horses?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about horse racing, racehorses, and horses.

Horse Racing Explore 23 books about horse racing
Racehorses Explore 6 books about racehorses
Horses Explore 81 books about horses

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like We Go In A Circle, I Rode the Red Horse, and Lord of Misrule if you like this list.