The Greatest Gambling Story Ever Told is an inspiring personal narrative about a filly who broke through the male-dominated world of horseracing and inspired crowds of men and women alike, along with a trio of gamblers who embark on an unforgettable adventure that’s as epic as the historic victory of Winning Colors. It’s Seabiscuit meets Narcos, and the best true-life gambling story ever told.
In the late 1980s, a spectacular 3-year-old female racehorse named Winning Colors was being groomed for success under her famous “Hollywood” trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, and the billionaire owner of the San Diego Chargers pro-football team, Eugene Klein. Meanwhile, three fun-loving gamblers, Miami Paul, Dino Mateo, and Big Bernie believed that Winning Colors could be the unlikely female winner of the 1988 Kentucky Derby. When the gamblers unknowingly place their longshot bet with members of a suspected drug cartel at a racetrack in Tijuana, Mexico, they must figure out how to claim their prize - without getting killed in the process. In a heart-pounding race of their own across the U.S.-Mexico border, the trio come face-to-face with suspected killers, are arrested by the Border Patrol, and fumble their way through the riskiest bet of their lives.
Plot/Idea: This book tells the story of the 1988 Kentucky Derby winner, Winning Colors, from the somewhat unconventional angle of a gambler who won big on the race through risky gambling exploits.
Prose: This narrative is an exciting read from the get-go. The author does an excellent job of depicting the action and atmosphere of a racetrack from a different angle than many are likely accustomed.
Originality: According to the author, the story is based in truth, but contains fictionalized elements. The book presents an energized narrative surrounding a historical sporting event.
Execution: While the gambling and cartel aspects of the story are attention-grabbing, they somewhat pale in comparison to the story of Winning Colors and the actual race, which the author relays with precision and vividness. The insights into the world of racing ownership and training groups is intriguing, and at times overshadow the gambling elements of the story.
Date Submitted: January 21, 2020
Both readers new to horse racing and longtime fans will learn much from this account. Paul explains how Winning Colors’s team prepared her to become a winner, introducing the people involved and toting up the incredible costs of her care and training. He shows how she compared to other horses and why he and his fellow gamblers knew from the beginning she would win. Conversations among Winning Colors’s owners, trainers, and carers (presumably reconstructed or imagined by Paul) bring these characters to life, making readers root for their hard work to pay off.
Paul’s own story adds a wild twist. He emphasizes how complicated race betting can be, digging into minutiae of gambling that rarely get discussed in popular stories. Readers with only a passing interest in these topics will likely feel daunted, but passionate fans of horse racing and gambling will appreciate the author’s deep knowledge of the subject and enjoy the excitement of his Mexico adventure.
Takeaway: Devotees of horse racing and gambling will be entertained by this detail-heavy tale of a daring bet on a long-shot horse.
Great for fans of John Perrotta’s Racetracker: Life with Grifters and Gamblers, Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit: An American Legend.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B