The California Comet
Lexington, KY -- February 7, 2002 -- Swaps, the latest release in the Thoroughbred Legends series, tells for the first time the improbable Hollywood-esque story of California’s most beloved racehorse. The strikingly handsome Swaps possessed true star quality and won the hearts of legions of fans in his native state. But Swaps was snubbed when he traveled East to confront the nobly bred Nashua in the 1955 Kentucky Derby. Not only did critics question Swaps’ credentials, they ridiculed owner Rex Ellsworth and trainer Mesach Tenney for their unconventional horsemanship. But the Mormon cowboys, fast friends from their boyhood days in Arizona, flaunted the Eastern Establishment with seeming delight.
When Swaps won the Derby, Ellsworth and Tenney took him back to California, bypassing the remainder of the Triple Crown. In his home state, Swaps delivered a series of electrifying and record-setting performances that no other horse has matched. His masterful handling of older horses in the 1955 Californian Stakes elevated Swaps to the rarified ranks of the century’s greatest performers. By the time of his retirement, Swaps’ fame had reached almost mythical proportions.
In Swaps, author Barry Irwin brings Swaps, Ellsworth, and Tenney to life in a tale of East vs. West, Establishment vs. outsider, sophisticate vs. common man, and above all, a horse whose breathtaking speed and power marked him a Legend for all time.
Author Barry Irwin is a former racing journalist and current president of Team Valor, which organizes racing partnerships. The California native wrote for The Blood-Horse, Thoroughbred of California, and Daily Racing Form among other publications. He also scripted film projects and hosted radio and television programs. Irwin lives in Versailles, Ky., near Lexington.
Published by Eclipse Press, February 2002.
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