Jennifer Kelly emerged in the horse racing scene when she released Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown in April of 2019. She went across the country, promoting her book everywhere from the Keeneland Sales Pavilion in Lexington, Kentucky to the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York. But, an author never truly rests. Kelly knew that she needed to figure out what her next project would be before her book on Sir Barton was even completed. “I was winding down the writing portion and getting ready to send the manuscript off for publication,” Kelly explained. “I needed to think ahead to what was next so I started researching potential topics.” Her research led her to the second and third Triple Crown winners, Gallant Fox and Omaha. No one book covered both horses and their breeder, William Woodward.
“Woodward wrote a memoir of Gallant Fox's career after the horse retired, but only 50 were printed,” Kelly said. “It was time to have the story of #2 and #3 told for those of us who are inspired by their legacies.”
Kelly then began the actual research for the book, which she points out as, “...not unlike what you might have undertaken for a research paper, but on a much, much larger scale.”
Kelly tends to start with books on the Triple Crown like Edward Bowen’s The Lucky Thirteen: The Winners of America’s Triple Crown of Horse Racing to get an overview of the horse’s career, taking note of milestones and other potential sources for research.
Kelly will then create a Word Document with a table of all of the horse’s starts for reference. Afterwards, she moves on to old newspapers connected to those individual races. All the while, she is looking at magazines and books.
“I go back and forth, mostly because I'm working on a timeline that has a beginning, middle, and end, but, at various points, I will need to research a person or a horse or an event that comes up and then work on how to connect it all together.”
This research has led Kelly towards some interesting information on her subjects. She was surprised to learn that Woodward served on the board of the Federal Reserve.
“I've written sample chapters already, but now I'm going back to figure out where exactly I want to start with this story,” Kelly explained. “Sir Barton had a logical starting point (his breeder, John E. Madden), but the story of Gallant Fox has more than one thread that comes together to create him. Right now, I'm trying to decide -- through research -- where the logical starting point is.”
Jennifer Kelly will be updating her blog, “Foxes of Belair”, as she continues on with her research. She will be sharing stories that won’t quite make into the book or that give previews into what the book will actually cover.
Kelly and all of her followers are excited to see how this book turns out. “I have enjoyed learning more about these two horses. This is my favorite era of horse racing history, the 1930s/1940s.”
The book is still in its very early stages and there is no estimated publication date yet. Nevertheless, it is going to be interesting to follow Kelly’s blog and go on the journey that she and her book may take us on!
[Video: Watch Gallant Fox's Triple Crown sweep]
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