Castleton Lyons has announced the names of five semi-finalist titles competing for the 2017 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award.
For the first time in the $10,000 award's 12-year history, every honoree is a work of fiction. Since its inception, only two novels have won—Jaimy Gordon's "Lord of Misrule" in 2010, which also took home the prestigious National Book Award, and Andy Plattner's "Offerings from a Rust Belt Jockey" in 2014.
The Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award is named for the man who launched it in 2006. Dr. Ryan was a globally known businessman, sportsman, and philanthropist who loved horse racing and fine literature. He passed away in late 2007, and his namesake award has since been continued by son Shane.
The winner will be announced during an April 19 reception in the historic stallion barn at the Ryan family's Castleton Lyons, near Lexington. The farm is presently home to 2018 Racing Hall of Fame nominee Gio Ponti and grade 1-winning and emerging young sire, Justin Phillip .
Following are the 2017 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award semi-finalists:
Author: Sasscer Hill
Noted mystery author Sasscer Hill's latest is a spine-tingling tale of crime, gangs, and suspicious racetrack happenings, featuring Baltimore police officer Fia McKee. When a horse is stolen, McKee goes to work undercover for the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau to find out whose "gaming the system," and to recover the animal while bringing the culprits to justice.
Author: Alex Brown
Missionville follows the struggles of a desperate, but good-hearted trainer at a small-time track called Missionville, where day-to-day survival is hard, and winning honestly harder still. Racing's hidden underbelly is exposed throughout by an author who has worked on backstretches like that of Missionville, with an emphasis placed on the haunting spectre of equine slaughter. Mystery, excitement, and a touch of romance complete a winning trifecta.
Out of Luck
Author: John Perrotta and Jen Ferguson (illustrator)
This fast-paced tale extends the narrative of HBO's popular "Luck" series of 2012, on which author Perrotta served as a writer and co-producer. Filled with well-drawn characters, including a young trainer on the rise, gangsters, high-rollers, and backside workers scraping by, Out of Luck chronicles racing's darker side. Perrotta tells a believable story of life on the racetrack, while providing closure for fans of the former TV series.
Author: Felix Francis
Felix Francis continues the tradition of his late father, renowned mystery writer Dick Francis, with his seventh solo novel. A classic Francis murder mystery, Pulse begins with the suspicious death of a well-dressed, unidentified man--at a racetrack, of course. Protagonist, Dr. Chris Rankin, launches a personal investigation into who the deceased was and why he was killed ... and soon finds herself in the crosshairs of trouble.
The Whole Sky
Author: Heather Henson
When a strange illness ravages a number of high-profile Thoroughbred farms, resulting in hundreds of stillborn foals, veterinarians have no answer. Enter 12-year-old Sky Traveler, a "horse whisperer" blessed with the additional gift of hearing horses speak back to her. While dealing with her own personal tragedies--the death of her mother and an alcoholic father--Sky uses her unique talents to uncover the reason behind the deadly epidemic, and to stop it.