‘Charismatic, a colt nobody wanted, is ridden by Antley, a jockey everybody doubted. That either could be a mere mile and a half from winning the Triple Crown would be astounding; that the two of them together are so close to racing immortality would be a fantasy... except that is real.’
So ran a newspaper story days before jockey Chris Antley and his horse Charismatic attempted to make history by winning the third and final race of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes. After battling depression and drug and alcohol abuse, Antley had made a stunning comeback by riding the unknown Charismatic to victory at both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. Antley’s success was viewed as symbolic of the new path he was forging in his life, but his story, and that of his horse, would not have a fairy-tale ending.
In Three Strides Before the Wire, journalist Elizabeth Mitchell takes the reader on a riveting journey into the world of horse racing by tracing the intertwined lives of jockey Chris Antley, trainer D. Wayne Lukas, owners Bob and Beverly Lewis, 1999 Derby winner Charismatic, and the author herself, who placed a crucial bet on the race. The adventure takes us behind the scenes of the world’s racetracks, revealing the colourful history of horse racing, while also exposing the underbelly of racing scandals.
The story of horse racing goes beyond the jockeys, the trainers, the owners and the swindlers. For all people, rich or poor, horse racing offers a dramatic tale that is thrilling at its best moments and heart-wrenching at its worst. Three Strides Before the Wire captures these triumphs and tragedies, and illuminates a world wherein one day at the track can mean the difference between the fulfilled promise of the winner’s circle and the shattering of one’s dreams.
Elizabeth Mitchell is author of W: Revenge of the Bush Dynasty. She was formerly the executive editor of George magazine. She lives in New York City.