Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award Goes to David Owen

Author wins $10,000 first-place honor for story of Grand National winner Foinavon.

David Owen’s book, Foinavon: The Story of the Grand National’s Biggest Upset, was honored with the prestigious Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award.

The reception for the winner, hosted by Castleton Lyons the evening of April 9, drew an eclectic crowd of racing enthusiasts, members of the media, political figures, academics, and fellow authors. It was held for the eighth time in the loft above the historic stallion barn at Castleton Lyons.

The award, worth $10,000 to the winner—equal to that given the Pulitzer Prize for literature and the National Book Award—also comes with a Tipperary crystal trophy in the form of the Lexington-based farm’s landmark stone tower.

The other two finalists were Shelley Lee Riley, who documented her 1992 classic quest in Casual Lies: A Triple Crown Adventure; and Dorothy Ours, for her historical look back at the 1938 Grand National Steeplechase winner in Battleship: A Daring Heiress, A Teenage Jockey, and America’s Horse. Each finalist received $1,000 and a crystal trophy.

The late Dr. Ryan established the award in 2006 to recognize top-caliber writing in Thoroughbred racing. He died the following year, after which the tradition was continued by his son, current Castleton Lyons president Shane Ryan.

This year’s panel of judges included Kay Coyte, Washington Post-Bloomberg News Service managing editor, Eclipse Award-winning photographer, and AHP Award-winning writer; Caton Bredar, award-winning journalist and HRTV broadcaster and producer; and Patrick Smithwick, a lifelong horseman, accomplished steeplechase rider, and winner of the 2012 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award.