Off to a Flying Start

As someone with a blog I get asked to review books all the time. Yours truly is not the world’s biggest reader so I frequently take a pass as the concept of having to turn around a review strikes fear into my heart. But enough about me, except that I was smart enough to say “yes” to about “Off to a Flying Start: Horsing Around the Language”!

The idea for the book grew out of a Saratoga paddock conversation by authors Bill Tivenan & Cassandra Cook:

We’d just seen a horse with his tongue tied off to one side (which we’re told they don’t mind), and we wondered “Is that where the term “tongue tied” comes from?”

The book breaks out each included phrase into a page or two with an illustration, an explanation of the phrase’s racing origins and how the phrase is used today.

For example, Take in Stride:

To take a hurdle without change of gait, or in stride, was a term that originated with descriptions of horses leaping hedges. It has come to mean being unfazed by an obstacle or something unexpected.

“The candidate took his opponent’s mudslinging in stride.”

The format makes it easy to either read straight through or jump around, something this blog authoress loves in a book! While there are plenty of phrases that any horse player could spot from a mile such as “set the pace” or “photo finish” there are definitely some surprises such as “hands down”, “hot to trot”, “get your goat” and “cinch” to name a few.

When I had the pleasure of chatting with the authors recently over hot dogs, I asked if their intended primary audience were potential racing fans. Cassandra explained that one of the biggest things they wanted to acheive with the book was to show how much racing had been ingrained in the mainstream culture. Mission accomplished… by compiling 60+ examples it’s clear that racing was at one point much more tightly integrated into the popular culture, something we all take for granted but can be a point of curiosity and interest for potential fans.

It’s a fun, easy read and must have for racing fans even if you’re not surprised by many of the entries! Off to a Flying Start would make a great gift for any language buff and/or lover of a good turn of phrase. This book will definitely be on my recommended holiday gift list post later in the year! Additionally both Mary Forney and Maryjean Wall have recommended this book.

You can get your hands on it in a number of ways… by visiting the author’s site, which also has even more entries than the book, at Amazon or in any number of track gift shops such as Saratoga, Del Mar, Emerald Downs and the National Racing Museum to name a few.

I’d also like to thank Bill and Cassandra for choosing the Hello Race Fans Ad Network to help promote their book during the kick off of summer racing at Del Mar and Saratoga! I hope you’ll visit their site and pick up a copy of their excellent book. It’s another great example of racing fans taking it upon themselves to independently produce a project that not only speaks to their love of racing, but hopes to share that love with a wider audience. What’s not to like about that?