He was a giant of a man who stood barely five feet tall; a fierce competitor with a gentle manner; a gifted jockey whose outstanding accomplishments made him a pariah in his native land. At age 23, two-time Kentucky Derby-winner Jimmy Winkfield was forced from American horseracing by a virulent combination of racism and hard times. He could have become one more victim of Jim Crow injustice, but Jimmy never allowed himself to be anyone's victim. Instead he launched himself on an amazing adventure through the epochal events of the twentieth century, and in
Wink, Ed Hotaling weaves that story with rich historical detail to tell a page-turning tale reminiscent of E. L. Doctorow's
This vivid and compelling biography has already led to Winkfield's recent induction into the horse racing's Hall of Fame, one of only three black jockeys honored there. Wink tells the story of Jimmy's rise from humble beginnings as a shoeshine boy in Lexington, Kentucky, to the top of turn-of-the-century American racing. Bursting with talent, confidence, and charm, this brilliant horseman was poised to become the greatest athlete in what was then the world's biggest sport when he was blackballed by stable owners in 1903. Desperate to continue racing, Wink left his beloved Kentucky, bought a steamer ticket for Europe, and made the world his racetrack.
No athlete has ever had a more spectacular career or demonstrated more courageously how to ride past any hardship. Jimmy Winkfield achieved a human greatness that transcends the limits of sport. Wink tells this wonderful story, this American story, in all its rich and vibrant power.
"Hotaling's lovingly crafted reminiscence of a great athlete brings a vanished American subculture to light." (
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