"After a number of up-the-track finishes by authors trying to emulate the success of Laura Hillenbrand's bestselling Seabiscuit: An American Legend, a worthy successor has at last broken out of the pack . . .Winkfield's story is so incredible you'll find yourself wondering why you've never heard it before."
"One of the most extraordinary stories in sports history is also one of its least known. Jimmy Winkfield was a gifted jockey and a remarkably intrepid man, and his life was a singular adventure. His is a story of persistence, hardship, and triumph, and it should be long remembered."—Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit: An American Legend
"In the entire sweep of American sports, from the days of a roistering John L. Sullivan in the 19th Century through the Tiger Woods phenomenon of the 21st, no figure made a bolder and more original odyssey of his life than Jimmy Winkfield, the poor son of former slaves whose brilliance as a jockey bore him from the winner's circle at the Kentucky Derby to the royal courts of Czarist Russia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire and from Kaiser Wilhelm's Germany to the salons of Paris. In Wink, author Ed Hotaling skilfully reports and chronicles Winkfield's battles against racism in the New World--his courage and daring in escaping that most implacable of foes--and his success and rise to glory as a rider and then a trainer in the Old World. The tale of Wink is an illuminating and inspiring read."—William Nack, author of Secretariat: The Making of a Champion, and My Turf: Horses, Boxers, Blood Money and the Sporting Life
"It is phenomenal enough that Jimmy Winkfield became a dominant force in American horse racing half a century before Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers. But this two-time Kentucky Derby–winner's adventures after leaving to race overseas make his story all the more compelling. Ed Hotaling has a marvelous tale to tell. This is the stuff of great nonfiction."—Douglas Brinkley, author of Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War
"In this fine book, Ed Hotaling adds the texture of a rich individual life to what his previous work has already told us about the great black jockeys of a century ago."—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., bestselling author, Chair of the Department of African and African American Studies and Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University
In mid- and late-19th-century America, horse racing led American sports, and within that world, black jockeys dominated. From the bluegrass of Kentucky to the fabled domes of Saratoga, one black jockey, Jimmy "Wink" Winkfield, overshadowed all the others by the turn of the century. With the rapid-fire patter of a track announcer, Hotaling, who penned the definitive history of black jockeys (The Great Black Jockeys), traces Wink's meteoric rise and tragic fall with eloquence and vivacity. As a child, Wink (1880 1974) was enthralled by stories of the great black riders, and by the time he was 17, he was toiling as a stable boy, eventually working his way up to jockey. A quick study, Wink became one of horse racing's most successful jockeys, winning two consecutive Kentucky Derbies, two consecutive Russian Derbies and numerous Warsaw Derbies. As the role of black jockeys began to wane in America and they began receiving threats from the KKK, Wink made a new career for himself in Russia and in Europe, racing in events there, winning big and even marrying a Russian heiress. Alas, after WWII, when he returned to the U.S., he encountered racism and the pain that comes with being a has-been. Hotaling's lovingly crafted reminiscence of a great athlete brings a vanished American subculture to light.