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Comments by Andy Robertson on Monday, November 05, 2001 at 09:00 IP Logged
I used to work in Ukiah in the 30's and followed Seabiscuit along with the Mission Reds baseball team, which later became the Hollywood Stars. Your book was great, and brought back many memories of the times. I hope you are able to get the Movie to stick with the facts and not be a bomb like the Shirley Temple Feasco. I will be looking forward to the movie. Give it a "G" rating as I would like to be able to take my Grand, and Great Grand children to see it. Thank you Andrew Robertson
Lafayette, In USA

Comments by Robert Powell on Monday, November 05, 2001 at 04:59 IP Logged
Great, great book. As a boy growing up near Santa Anita in the 40's, my father picked me up from school during the week to catch the eighth race (back then an 8 race card was standard) almost daily. Saturdays were spent at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park. On occasion, we drove to Del Mar. His stories about Seabiscuit, War Admiral, Chas. Howard, Red Pollard, Tom Smith and others jumped back in my mind as I read your wonderful biography of this great racehorse. In the late forties and early fifties I'de hang out at the Arcadia bowling alley where many of the Jockeys played pool in the evenings. Neves, Longden, Arcaro and of course, The Shoe, are names that were part of my youth. Later I was priviledged to watch another great racehorse campaign in Southern California, Citation was the greatest I ever saw personally. His match race with Noor will never be forgotten. What a job you did researching this wonderful story!! Bob Powell Santa Fe, NM
Santa Fe, NM USA

Comments by Laura Hillenbrand on Monday, November 05, 2001 at 03:08 IP Logged
FROM THE AUTHOR: In reply to the earlier note about speed in quarter horses, Pratt's finding of 56 mph was a recording of top speed, not average speed. Average speed would indeed be slower. Laura Hillenbrand
Washington, DC USA

Comments by John Sjoquist on Monday, November 05, 2001 at 02:46 IP Logged
Dear Ms Hillenbrand, Anything praise I could heap on your book would not do it justice. It was in a word, superb. I have been a horse player for 45 years and have known men around tracks for many of those years. They all had interesting stories to tell but none approached yours for detail and almost oracular insight you exhibited in your book. I have argued for many years that jockeys are the bravest atheletes of all and your book overwhelmingly proves it. So thank you very much for writing SEABISCUIT. I shall treasure it forever. Please do not take this next as a criticism but this fellow George Pratt who told you that a quarter horse can run 55 miles per hour is just dead wrong. In order to run a quarter mile at 60 miles per hour a horse would have to run 440 yards in 15 seconds. 15 seconds. If you divide 60 by 55 tou get 1.090. When you multply 15 seconds by 1.090 you get 16.36 seconds. The present record for 440 yards is 20.94 seconds. This math shows that quarter horses can run about 42.97 miles per hour. That aside your book is still by far the greatest tome on racing ever written. John Sjoquist
Las Cruces, NM USA

Comments by Sara Grimm on Monday, November 05, 2001 at 01:14 IP Logged
Laura, I am no horse racing fan, but just finished listening to "Seabiscuit" on tape during a trip in the car. I saw you on Good Morning America and decided to buy the tapes...I'm glad I did! I like to mention the word "Seabiscuit" to older adults (I'm 40). They ALL have heard of him of course. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and look forward to the movie and the PBS documentary. Please let us know via your website when the PBS show will air. Congratulations and Well Done! Sara in Ohio

Comments by Joan Renner on Monday, November 05, 2001 at 00:44 IP Logged
I just finished your book Seabiscuit, An American Legend, and fell in love with Seabiscuit all over again. I still have my children's book Come on Seabiscuit by Ralph Moody. As a child I read any and all books I could find about horses. Thank you for this wonderful account of the life of Seabiscuit. I'm no literary critic, but you have a wonderful way with words!
Prescott, AZ USA

Comments by Greg Osmun on Monday, November 05, 2001 at 00:10 IP Logged
Laura: I want to thank you for writing a masterpiece. Seabiscuit was truly enjoyable. Even my wife said, "that Seabiscuit most be a good book because you hardly ever read." I also want to thank you for providing me with an education. I work in the industry as a pharmaceutical representative with both small animal and equine responsibility. Our company purchased and provided us with a copy of your book in order to provide us with an insight into the racing industry. What amazes me is that it hasn't changed that much over the years. You provided excellent insight about an industry that is relatively new to me. Thank you. I'm looking forward to the movie! Greg
Indianapolis, IN USA

Comments by jason patrick alg on Sunday, November 04, 2001 at 06:48 IP Logged
i just want to thank you for this book and wonderful story you have brought into our homes across the country. red pollard was my great uncle and hearing the story growing up through the family was always interesting---my grandpa and red's brother used to play fight with us when ever we visited in the summertime, but not once did i ever meet red in person. my mom on the other hand did. we grew up thinking our grandfather was a heroic figure because of his canadian boxing career and of course just simply bieng our grandfather. red has a lot of family out here in california and we have all read the book---i just finished and i must say i swept through that book in about four days, i couldn't put it down. not only from the story and time period in history but the fact that you took a peice of my family and shared it with me and the rest of my family in detail i just wanted to thank you personally. not sure if you'll ever get to read this but i can tell from the work you've displayed you already know how grateful we all are.thank you
fairfield, ca USA

Comments by Robert Steinberg on Sunday, November 04, 2001 at 03:30 IP Logged
St.Helena, CA USA

Comments by Scott Brockway on Sunday, November 04, 2001 at 00:38 IP Logged
My dad loved your book. I thought a nice present for him would be to find a print of Seabiscuit. I have had absolutely no luck. Do you have any ideas. Thanks Scott
Bend, Or USA

Comments by Jennifer Lunden on Saturday, November 03, 2001 at 03:54 IP Logged
Wow. Thanks Pam Athena (below) for your beautiful, sad, inpiring story. It seems like Seabiscuit really is your horse. I borrowed "Seabiscuit" from the library after my acupuncturist saw the author interviewed on TV. I, also, have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so "Seabiscuit" is doubly inspiring to me: writer with CFS beats the odds and writes a magnificent, inspiring, obviously labour-intensive book. Seabiscuit teaches us the power of "heart." What a horse!
Portland, ME USA

Comments by Janine Ablan on Saturday, November 03, 2001 at 03:47 IP Logged
I fell in love with Seabiscuit and reading in the 7th grade when a school librarian recommended the book "Run, Seabiscuit, Run". I have never forgotten that story, and tried to find the book for my own kids, but I suppose it is out of print now. Your book is like the grown up version of what I read as a kid, and it is fantastic. I never knew about the people associated with Seabiscuit, and I admire all the heroes in the story. Thanks again for the great read and bringing back these wonderful moments in history.
Phoenix, az USA

Comments by Pam Athena on Saturday, November 03, 2001 at 01:27 IP Logged
Seabiscuit, My Patron Saint and why. I was born in NYC 1970, a product of a 16 year old mother and an 18 year old father, bound for college in Florida. They married under shotgun circumstances and their relationship was not a happy one to say the least. After the wedding, my father continued on to college and left my mother behind, still living with her parents. Throughout the time that my father was not present in my life, my mother was close to me and taught me to read by age 3. This would later turn into the greatest gift she had ever given me. When my father returned to NYC from school in Florida, he and my mother resumed their relationship, and my Grandparents moved away to North Carolina. Soon, my two younger brothers were born, a year apart. My father had his own share of emotional problems and was physically abusive to my mother. My father became an alcoholic and compulsive gambler, often losing whole months of salary on horseracing, and taking his losses out on my mother's body. From my earliest memories, I loved horses. A horse crazy girl, I'd talk about my dreams of one day becoming a jockey. This brought fear and panic to my mother who connected my love of horses and racing with my father's gambling habit and abuse. I was discouraged at my mother's insistence to stop being so wrapped up in horses. 1975, I was 5 years old and my mother could not take my father's abuse any longer and they divorced. My mother was not a strong woman at that point in her life, now single, 21 years old with 3 kids, and no immediate family in the state. She enrolled in welfare and got us food stamps and tried to give us a stable home. However she became gripped in a terrible, deep depression with manic episodes and several nervous breakdowns. I had to grow wise beyond my years and assist my mother with daily chores, eventually shouldering many more responsibilities than any child ever deserved. From changing diapers to preparing basic meals for my brothers and myself, while my mother locked herself in the bathroom to sit on the floor and cry for hours at a time. Living in the city, apartment prices aren't cheap. The higher the apartment, the cheaper the rent, so subsequently all the apartments I had ever lived in were on the 3rd or 4th floor, old buildings with no elevators. Flight after flight of stairs. My mother became deeply disturbed and manic and was so wrapped up in her own personal depression that I was forced to do laborious tasks to keep the family functioning. She stayed home with my younger brothers and I had to take over the tasks that required leaving the apartment. Several times a week I was made to walk 5 blocks to the nearest Laundromat and wash 3 hampers full of clothes. I could not carry all three hampers at once so I was forced to make multiple trips back and forth, while one load was washing, I was trekking back to pick up the second load, toss the second load into the washer, first load goes into the dryer, then back to my home for the third load, etc. Each trip taking me up 4 flights of stairs to boot! Sometimes I walked a total of 60 blocks. I became the workhorse of the family. Walking city streets with a small rickety metal 2 wheeled shopping cart, loaded with up to 8 full paper bags of groceries from my mothers exacting lists. Dragging and hauling loads back and forth up the flights of stairs, along city blocks day in and day out. Then the responsibility of household duties, schoolwork, homework was at many times more than the average person could bear. To revisit this part of my childhood, even now is sad and depressing. My young life back then knew only work. I began to experience knee pain right around the time I turned 7 years old. No amount of crying or complaining could convince my mother that there was actually something physically wrong with me. I used to sit in a hot bath before collapsing into bed at night, throbbing in my knees keeping me awake, never getting enough good rest. I would beg her to not make me walk so much, but to no avail. I was labeled a complainer, whiner...or that I was experiencing 'growing pains' . I still had years ahead of me as far as the physical demands my mother and our life put on me. The groceries needed buying, the laundry needed washing and it was always up to me to get it done. My only true escape was in my reading. When I had free time, which wasn't often, I would hole up in the local library and immerse myself in reading about my glorious horses. I had big dreams of being a jockey and one day escaping the drudgery to be sitting on a horse in the winners circle!! Every book on jockeys and horses became fodder for my imagination and a temporary escape from my pain. One day, about 1977, in my little nook in the library, I set down with a copy of 'Come on Seabiscuit' by R. Moody. I had always heard the name Seabiscuit in passing, but never really knew much about the horse or his story. I began to read that book and sat unmoving, devouring it cover to cover. In my child's mind I felt like I had just met a kindred spirit. Seabiscuit's bad knees, overworked and unappreciated life, before Charles Howard, Oh how I felt that was so much like me! Seabiscuit then became my mental friend, my companion and my driving force to carry on. No matter how much it hurt, no matter how much I thought I could not go on, thoughts of him would come to me and give me the extra bit of courage I needed to complete whatever task was at hand. I even started taking care of my own knees in ways that I read Tom Smith had helped heal Seabiscuit. I would cover my legs in liniment and bandages, and hold my weight off them whenever I could. Soak in hot water at night, or chill my knees in icewater bandages. Sometimes my self treatments would provide me with temporary relief, enough for me to carry on. Over the years I continued to nurture my love for horses. Magazines, movies, sporting events, books...anything and everything horse I could get a hold of. I oozed 'horse sense'. No one in the City could understand why I dreamed of rolling pastures and livestock. Images from TV and the Kentucky Derby, showing gorgeous bluegrass farms and paddocks with foals was what I dreamed of being a part of. Traveling pony ride companies would set up shop at local school carnivals and while the students and my classmates held their nose and screeched about manure stink, I always found it strangely comforting and inoffensive. In 1984, I turned 14. Dreams have a way of changing and deep in my heart I knew I could never really be a jockey, being that I was already 5'5" and just over 100 pounds. Being a city kid who had only seen horses in person through the local mounted police didn't help my case! It never thwarted me from wanting a deeper and closer relationship with horses or racing. Throughout this time, my mother had started therapy and had mostly come out of her depressive shell, and had begun to take on more responsibility as a parent. It was at this point in my life that I got the courage to stand firm and demand medical treatment for my knees. I went to visit my grandparents in North Carolina and they took me to Duke University Medical Center. It was here I got the horrible diagnosis. I had full blown osteoarthrits in both knees due to chips and fragments of bone that had almost completely worn away all of my cartilage. Bone against bone for years, compounded by the workload I had to endure had done its damage. Then began the surgical portion of my life. To date, I have had 9 surgeries on my knees and still have 3 more to go. I am currently undergoing cartilage tissue transplants that we hope will buy me time so that I can get my knees artificially rebuilt in several years. Eventually, my entire family left the city and settled in North Carolina to be closer to my Grandparents. During a brief period of 'moderate pain' I took a job at a local horse farm. The deal was, riding lessons for muck work and miscellaneous odd farm jobs. No one mucked harder!! The lady of the farm, who gave me the lessons, turned out to be Paula Turner, former spouse of Billy Turner. Her house was covered with pictures of Seattle Slew and she would tell me all sorts of stories and anecdotes. I learned a lot, had great hands on experience and was thrilled to be actively involved in what I had always wanted to do. Since that time in my life, I have gone on to live out in the country and owned several horses of my own. I am 31 now and I live among the rolling hills and pastures of 'Hunt Country' Northern Virginia. I do not currently own any horses, due to the 3 upcoming surgeries, but I know now that its only a year or two away before I involve myself in horses again. Due to my physical restrictions, I'm looking forward to raising and showing Fallabella Miniatures. My true love, on a smaller scale, I think will work out perfect for me! Till this day, Seabiscuit still has a special place in my heart. I am an artist by trade and horses are a staple of my artwork. I have made a gorgeous ceramic carousel racing horse, that I have painted to be Seabiscuit in the Howard colors. My Prized possession is an Ebay purchase of a thick black 78rpm record of Joe Hernandez calling both the San Antonio and the great Santa Anita Handicap. I can't listen to it without welling up with tears of both happiness and sadness. The joy in the victory, the excitement, the screams of the crowd, how the Howard's must have felt.... the sadness being the fact that this horse that I love so much, this horse that helped me through my darkest days and gave me courage when none was to be found, has been long gone and I'll never know him. Until your book. I have read your book twice now. It has given me the eerie feeling of being there. Unless time travel becomes possible, you have done the next best thing. I completely forget what year it is when I turn those pages. The depth and insight you have given the characters is unsurpassed. Your research is simply astounding. I would love to see the movie materialize. I am sure with you involved in the screenplay, the movie will do the justice to this story, that it so richly deserves. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for creating this masterpiece.
Hunt Country, VA USA

Comments by Margaret Proctor on Friday, November 02, 2001 at 09:18 IP Logged
Dear Laura, Thank you for your wonderful story about Seabiscuit. I grew impatient waiting for my turn to read your book from our local library, so I bought my own copy - then bought one for each of my two sisters and my daughter for Christmas. I first became interested in your story watching/listening to a TV interview. I admire your courage and dedication in researching and writing this story, especially knowing you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome. May God bless you and keep you in His care.
Camdenton, MO USA

Comments by Margaret Proctor on Friday, November 02, 2001 at 08:47 IP Logged
Dear Laura, Thank you for your wonderful story about Seabiscuit. I grew impatient waiting for my turn to read your book from our local library, so I bought my own copy - then bought one for each of my two sisters and my daughter for Christmas. I first became interested in your story watching/listening to a TV interview. I admire your courage and dedication in researching and writing this story, especially knowing you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome. May God bless you and keep you in His care.
Camdenton, MO USA

Comments by Bearer of that "DUH" feeling on Friday, November 02, 2001 at 08:17 IP Logged
To people wishing to see Seabiscuit in action, Laura H. gave us a very strong hint when she wrote of the problems the directors had when making the Shirley Temple movie about Seabiscuit. They had to use actual Seabiscuit film footage to show the race scenes. I purchased a copy of this film for about 9 bucks on EBAY and while I'm not sure the practice sessions are Seabiscuit it does have footage of his biggest races.
Everywhere , USA

Comments by Vince LaRocco on Friday, November 02, 2001 at 04:52 IP Logged
Ms. Hillenbrand, Thank you so much for your book, Seabiscuit. An American Legend. Your words touched me deeply. I was born and raised in Glendale, California and spent many days of my youth accompanying my grandfather to the races at Santa Anita, Hollywood Park and Del Mar. I remember frollicking, as a 10 or 12 year old kid, through the paddock area at Santa Anita, seeing the George Woolf and Seabiscuit statues. After reading your book, I wept for my ignorance and simple youth at not knowing that I was romping over hallowed ground. Before I die, I will return to the beautiful track "14 miles east of Los Angeles, at the foot of the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains," as Joe Hernandez used to describe Santa Anita every evening during his race re-cap radio program. And, when I do return, I will spend a quiet moment in tribute to just a couple of racing's legends. Your book made them mean so much more to me now. I have seen thousands and thousands of thoroughbred horse races in my life. I've saw Johnny Longden win his last race, Willie Shoemaker win his only three mounts on the day he returned from a serious injury at Santa Anita, Alvaro Pineda die in the Santa Anita starting gate, and I was on my way to the track the day Joe Hernandez was kicked by a horse in the barn area and eventually passed away as a result. No other sport can cause me to wax nostalgic as thoroughly as "the sport of kings." Thanks again for your tribute to "Pops". I would love to visit Ridgewood someday just so I could say I was somehow closer to such a champion. Vince LaRocco
Florence, Or USA

Comments by Dr. August M. Alfieri on Thursday, November 01, 2001 at 05:42 IP Logged
Dr. August M. Alfieri 68 Amsterdam Road Smithtown, New York 11787 631-265-7142 Dear Ms. Hillenbrand, I enjoyed your book as many others have and will comtinue to do. I am writing to ask your advice. I have recently completed "Cast A Giant Shadow,"a biography of Joe Lapchick, who was a legendary hall-of-fame basketball player as well as a famous professional and college coach. I played for Mr. Lapchick and I feel I have a good book. As I read your book I saw the similarities between both books. Joe Lapchick goes back to the pre-war period and is long gone even though in his time he was one of the most written about sports figures in New York. We both have resurrected the past with our books. My book is presently being shown in all the major publishing houses in New York by my literary agent Philip Spitzer, but while I wait I want to help my cause. You explained how you were encouraged to develop an American Heritage piece into what became a bestseller. What happened after you wrote it and your agent shopped it around? What did you do to help sell your book? This is my first book and I want to see it published. I admired your efforts at research that you shared in your acknowledgment.You seemed a bulldog, following every lead. I guess we all love that part of writing. That's what made your book so effective. You showed the reader what the period was about. My in American Cultural History and I appreciated your careful contextual efforts to allow the reader to understand your human character's setting. It made it easier to understand Seabiscuit. I'm sorry for getting off my subject. I would appreciate any tip that might help. I have recently contacted a dozen top people in my sports field to read parts of my manuscript and invited them to offer a comment of the book. If there is any advice it would be appreciated. I see Seabiscuit is to be a film. A great idea. I had the same idea for my old coach. Good luck. I remember an old coach who used to say "I'm the luckiest guy in the world, the harder I work, the luckier I get." I'm sure that applies to you, too. Sincerely, August M. Alfieri 68 Amsterdam Road Smithtown, New York 11787 631-265-7142

Comments by Elizabeth Barrow on Thursday, November 01, 2001 at 04:25 IP Logged
You probably receive tons of suggestions for the film. It may be a fantasy to think that any of them are actually taken into consideration. However, the other morning while I was visiting the workouts at Santa Anita, a horse stepped onto the track, and my heart thumped. At first I was struck by how sweet and loveable he looked; I wanted to rush up and throw my arms around his neck. Then I realized that he resembled Seabiscuit. He even had kind of funny knees. A beauty he was not. I asked the exercise rider about him and she said his name is Free World. He's a nine-year-old who's probably nearing the end of his racing career. Dumb me forgot to ask whose barn he belongs to. His blanket bore the initials SM. Of course, he could be in another barn tomorrow, for all I know. I have no idea how they're going about casting Seabiscuit. I know that usually more than one animal is used to portray a single character in films. Free World certainly doesn't possess the racing skills Seabiscuit had, but he could be used in other scenes. This is a long shot (pun intended) suggestion, I know, but I couldn't resist giving Free World a mention. Who knows what his future holds? As for human casting, John Mahoney would be credible as Tom Smith, and, if he can handle drama, small, red-headed Seth Green is a possibility for Red Pollard. I wish I had Hollywood pull! I do hope you are given the control you deserve.
Altadena, CA USA

Comments by Susan Mattei on Thursday, November 01, 2001 at 02:53 IP Logged
Dear Laura, Your book has touched me like no other. I'm placing it on my bedside table and never taking it off. Every day I look down at this book, I will get the pleasure of having lived your words. I was there. Thank you, Susan Mattei Ruidoso NM
Ruidoso, NM USA

Comments by crissi goldman on Thursday, November 01, 2001 at 00:49 IP Logged
Dear Laura-I just finished reading Seabiscuit and cannot remember having read such a powerful book in a long time. Thank you for providing me with many pleasurable hours. But I have a question and am hoping that if you don't have the answer, perhaps you can point me in the right direction to research this myself. When I was a sophmore in high school in Hillsborough CA (1957), I became friendly with a new student who had moved in down the street from where I lived in Atherton. Her name was Jacqueline Carroll and she and her mother were living with a "Mr Howard." It wasn't clear to me then whether her mother was married to the man or not. I never met the mysterious Mr Howard as he was either resting, or he and Jackie's mother were at the track. Does any of this sound familiar? Would there be some way I could research this period of time to find out whether this Mr Howard and The Charles Howard are one and the same, or somehow related? Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated.
lafayette, ca USA

Comments by julie herring on Wednesday, October 31, 2001 at 09:46 IP Logged
I just finished the book & I loved it. I love horses & I was inspired by Seabiscuit's spirit & the people that loved him & trained him. It was also a learning experience for me as I did not know much about the sport of horseracing. Since I do love horses, I can only hope that all the horses are treated with kindness & love even tho they might not all be winners like Seabiscuit. The ending, with his inevitable death did bring me to tears but they were happy tears. Thank you for writing such a beautiful book.
media, pa USA

Comments by jesse dougherty on Wednesday, October 31, 2001 at 08:50 IP Logged
Laura- You make me even more proud of our alma-mater Kenyon. Your book is poetic and compelling. You weave together the characters of Pollard, Howard and Smith so beautifully around Seabiscuit- who you canít help but fall in love with. The best moments have to be your descriptions of the races where your passion and knowledge of horses and horse racing pours out of the tightly written pages. I found myself dying to read to the end of the race to know what happens. Finally- the last race, Pollard on Seabiscuit at the Santa Ana handicap was quite moving. The description of Pollard feeling alone on the horse moved me to tears. I will recommend this book to everyone and always support your endeavors and proudly knowing that we both graduated from an excellent school in the middle of nowhere. Jesse
Philadelphia, pa USA

Comments by Lisa Morgan-Wilson on Wednesday, October 31, 2001 at 08:11 IP Logged
Laura: I absolutely loved your book. It made me laugh and it made me cry. It is the best book I have read this year. As a little girl growing up I read all of the Black Stallion books and this brought it all back to me. During these trying times we need another Seabiscuit. Your vivid descriptions put me there at the time of the story and I could not wait to find out who won the race. I anxiously await the movie and lets pray they do it justice. If possible I would like to find a poster or picture of Seabiscuit to frame for my house, can you help? Thanks for the wonderful story of a wonderful little horse.
Kansas City, MO USA

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