Wild Ride: Rise and Fall Of Calumet Farm, Inc., America's Premier Racing Dynasty

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9780805020038: Wild Ride: Rise and Fall Of Calumet Farm, Inc., America's Premier Racing Dynasty
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In the vast farmlands of the Bluegrass, night brings a deep and layered darkness that hovers over the land like a heavy fog. Faraway lights on rafters and spires appear closer than they are, and sounds are difficult to discern. The backfiring of a pickup might be mistaken for a gunshot, or the simple creaking of a barn door could be confused with an animal's cry...
On one such night in November 1990, Alydar, the thoroughbred industry's preeminent sire, was found mysteriously injured in his stall. Despite extraordinary veterinary efforts, the stallion, insured for $36.5 million, was put down hours later. So begins the tragic demise of Calumet Farm and one of America's largest family fortunes. Wild Ride is Ann Hagedorn Auerbach's investigation of the fast-track, multibillion-dollar thoroughbred industry and of the fall of Calumet - the inside story of a financial debacle that reached farther than anyone could have imagined.
Founded in 1924 by Chicago mogul William Monroe Wright, Calumet Farm was to the world of thoroughbred racing what the New York Yankees were to baseball or the Boston Celtics to basketball - a sports dynasty. The stable bred so many superstars that it became the standard by which all achievements were measured in the horse racing industry. But during the 1980s, J. T. Lundy, the son of a sharecropper who married a Wright heir and whose lifelong dream was to rule Calumet, swept the stately institution into a high-stakes venture that all too quickly became a web of financial schemes involving notorious deal makers, huge bank loans, priceless art, jet planes, and alleged Mafia ties. By the fall of 1990, no one - not the media, the banks, or the family - knew how financially destitute Calumet had become. Beyond its pristine white fences was a house of cards soon to collapse into a morass of lawsuits and despair, revealing the secrets of a family, an industry, and a decade of greed.
Through astute investigative reporting, the author pieces together the Calumet puzzle, revealing an array of highly questionable practices and spinning a compelling tale that brings to life a gallery of colorful characters from the farm's glittery past. As the mystery unfolds the questions mount: were millions of dollars hidden in offshore bank accounts? Who was to blame - the family, the board of directors, the bankers, the lawyers? Was it possible that a stable dedicated for decades to producing superior racehorses had become so desperate that it could survive only by destroying what it had created - its prize stallion, Alydar?
Wild Ride chronicles the making and unmaking of a great American fortune. At once a family saga, an expose, and a mystery, it is also a portrait of an industry that succumbed to the temptations of the speculative era known as the Bluegrass Bubble. When the bubble exploded, an American institution lay in ruins.

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About the Author:

Ann Hagedorn Auerbach is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and has also written for The San Jose Mercury News, The New York Daily News, and The Washington Post. She lives New York City.

Synopsis:

Chronicles the scandal and treachery that marked the destruction of historic Calumet Farms, which bred more Kentuky Derby winners than any other stable.

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