Fortus, West Among Ryan Book Award Finalists

By Dick Downey

Posted March 28, 2016

Among the finalists for the 2015 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award are NTWAB members Bob Fortus and Gary West, authors of "Ride to Win - An Inside Look at the Jockey’s Craft".

Finalists for the award, now in its tenth year, were announced on March 26 by Castleton Lyons, the farm near Lexington, Ky. purchased by the late Dr. Tony Ryan in 2001.

The winning prize is $10,000, with  $1,000 going to each runner-up. Tipperary Crystal trophies in the likeness of the farm’s stone tower are also awarded.

Dr. Ryan, described as "a scholar, renowned businessman and philanthropist" on the farm's website, founded the award in 2006 as a tribute to his twin passions of horse racing and literature. Since Dr. Ryan's passing in 2007, his son Shane, current president of the operation, has continued the award.

The winner of the 2015 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award will be named on April 13 at the farm during an invitation-only evening catered reception. For additional information, Betsy Hager at may be contacted.                 

The book by Fortus and West enters the minds and businesses of many high-profile jockeys before, during and after races. Among the many other topics covered in the 278-page book are weight management, fitness and how jockeys keep trainers happy. More than 50 riders were interviewed.

A key point in Fortus' respected resume is his longtime career writing racing news for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Included in West's impressive biography are a long stint covering the sport for the  Dallas Morning News and service as president of the National Turf Writers Association in 2005-2006.

"Ride to Win" is available in traditional book format and may be ordered at                                                                                             

Ryan Book Award finalists competing with Fortus and West are Natalie Keller Reinert and John Carter.

Reinert wrote "Turning for Home," her fourth "Alex and Alexander” novel. The focal point of the book is the re-training of a racehorse that was found starving. The story takes us through the protagonist's efforts to help the horse amid a media storm.

Carter's work, "Warriors on Horseback - The Inside Story of the Professional Jockey," comes from a British perspective and celebrates the work of notable jockeys like Frankie Dettori, Bob Champion and Hayley Turner.

Past winners of the Ryan Book Award include Pulitzer Prize-nominated and Eclipse and National Book Award-winning authors. Here's a complete list.

2014 - Andrew Plattner - "Offerings from a Rust Belt Jockey"

2013 - David Owen - "Foinavon: The story of the Grand National's Biggest Upset"

2012 - Patrick Smithwick - "Flying Change: A Year of Racing and Family and Steeplechasing"

2011 - Milton Toby - "Dancer's Image: The Forgotten Story"

2010 - Jaimy Gordon - "Lord of Misrule"

2009 - James E. "Ted" Bassett AND Bill Mooney - "Keeneland's Ted Bassett: My Life"

2008 - Rudy Alvarado - "The Untold Story of Joe Hernandez: The Voice of Santa Anita"

2007 - T.D. Thornton - "Not By a Long Shot: A Season at a Hard Luck Horse Track"

2006 - Joe Drape - "Black Maestro"