At first glance, the newly released book "Equine Regulatory Law" is a bit intimidating—a heavy, scholarly green hardbound tome of 972 pages.
But this book, created by former Kentucky legislator and attorney Bob Heleringer, is a gift to the Thoroughbred racing industry. The text is a conversational tour through the twisting morass that is equine regulatory law, but more important it tells a history of Thoroughbred racing in America.
"I remember—and not fondly—the textbooks from law school that were so dry," Heleringer said. "In my book, I wanted a lot of history. You have the textbook aspect that goes into detail on the important cases but then you'll find profiles of the people involved and the human drama."
Heleringer, 61, was born in Louisville, Ky. While attending law school at the University of Louisville, he worked during the summers as a racing official in Kentucky, Maryland, and New Hampshire. He began practicing law in 1976 and was soon bit by the political bug. Heleringer ran for a seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1978 and upset a three-term incumbent. He would go on to serve 23 years as a state representative.
In 1999 Heleringer took over as an instructor of Equine Regulatory Law in a class offered through the University of Louisville's Equine Industry Studies program. He was filling the large shoes of the late Kent Hollingsworth, a former editor for The Blood-Horse and a pillar of the university program. As Heleringer got prepared for his first class, he discovered the course had no textbook. The closest thing he could find was a binder with a collection of Hollingsworth's notes.
"When Kent lectured, most of it just came out of what he had stored in his head," Heleringer said.
During that first year as a teacher, Heleringer started his own collection of notes and over 13 years amassed a history of Thoroughbred racing seen through a regulatory lens.
"I wrote this primarily as a textbook," he said. "But I also wrote it for horse people so they could read about the history of our sport—of how August Belmont literally saved the industry single-handedly. I discovered so many interesting stories."
Anyone interested in finding out more about Heleringer's book or in ordering a copy can find out everything they need at equineregulatorylaw.com.