The Almighty Bob Baffert

By William Nack GQ, May 2003 By the late morning of last year’s Kentucky Derby, after watching War Emblem go through his final stretching exercises at Churchill Downs—his black coat looking sleek as mink as he jogged off the racetrack in the silver light—Robert...

Dubai’s Dream Team

By William Nack GQ, October 2002 It was a moment that joined two worlds, one in which the very old really began to understand the very new. It was 5:40 P.M. on Saturday, May 1, 1999, ten minutes after a horse named Charismatic—yet another male-line descendant of the...

August of 1959

By William Nack From Bloodlines, 2006 In the summer of 1959, not far from that old wooden bandbox known as Arlington Park, I awoke early one morning in my bunk in Barn 4A, descended the rickety staircase from my room, and there at once found myself living out the...

Work Horse on Ice

By W.C. Heinz Saturday Evening Post, January 10, 1959 In five hours Gordie Howe would play hockey with the Detroit Red Wings against the New York Rangers. Now it was 3:30 in the afternoon, and he was sitting at the kitchen table in his new home in a residential suburb...

The Masters Its Ownself

By Dan Jenkins Golf Digest, April 1985 Something mythical happens to every writer who goes to The Maters for the first time, some sort of emotional experience that results in a search party having to be sent out to recover his typewriter from a clump of azaleas. The...

A Hurdler in Inner Space

By Mark Kram Esquire, June 1988 Odd, he was thinking, how a streak leans on you, twists you, turns you, can overwhelm the most finely tuned psychology designed to protect you from its vast intrusions. He was stretched out on a bed in a dark Madrid hotel room,...

Death of a Cowboy

By Peter Richmond The National Sports Daily, July 22, 1990 Some don’t join the diaspora to the cities, to fill up the buildings and prowl the gray streets. Some decide to stay behind and work the land, and to work with the land—to live on it and play on it, dwarfed by...

Titanic Thompson

By John Lardner True, 1951 One day not long ago, a St. Louis hotel detective tipped off a cop friend of his that there was a fellow in a room on the eighth floor who packed a gun. They decided to do a little further research. They went into the room without knocking,...

Cowgirls All the Way

By E. Jean Carroll Outside, April/May 1981 There is a horse auction establishment on South MacArthur in Oklahoma City. It is a big white building with a dirt arena inside. Actually, there are two arenas, a large one where the horses are exercised and a smaller one...

The Black Berets

By Red Smith The New York Times, October 19, 1968 The four-hundred-meter race was over and in the catacombs of Estadio Olimpico Doug Roby, president of the United States Olympic Committee, was telling newspapermen that he had warned America’s runners against making...

A Little Greedy, and Exactly Right

By Red Smith The New York Times, June 11, 1973 The thing to remember is that the horse that finished last had broken the Kentucky Derby record. If there were no colt named Secretariat, then Sham would have gone into the Belmont Stakes Saturday honored as the finest...