Girls and horses—a combination that spans generations, of Spiletta, the Countess of Coulter’s favorite mount. It’s the story of one girl and her horse, and what their lives must have been like long ago, and why Spiletta is, in real life, the Grand Dam of racing’s greatest horses.
Lexington, KY, 2013
A young dark bay colt gambols around the paddock. His mother, the famed Zenyatta, attends him. Up the road a bit, a beautiful filly charges around the paddock, birthed by her mother, champion race mare Rachel Alexandra. Both mothers and foals are descendant from the legendary Spiletta, as are their famous sires, Bernadini and Tapit.
Who was Spiletta? She lived in the 18th Century. She was the real life granddaughter of Sham, the Godolphin Arabian, and mother of the undefeated Eclipse, the greatest sire in horsedom, and namesake of the Horse of the Year award to this day.
Spiletta is the secret of Eclipse’s success. She passed her enormous heart to her son, who passed them to his progeny, blessing them with great stamina and speed. Spiletta and Eclipse’s names are on the pedigrees of most Triple Crown participants and winners, including Man O War, Nashua, Native Dancer, Seattle Slew and the wondrous Secretariat.
Little is known about this champion mare, but what is known has been woven into this novel. It explores the life of Spiletta, nicknamed The Flying Filly, the first horse to conquer racing obstacles, which inspired the Olympic sports of steeplechase, cross country and competitive jumping, to inspire the design of a new and safer saddle and to perhaps save a prince. Quite a list of achievements for the Countess of Coulter’s favorite mount. Will Rachel and Zenyatta’s foals be blessed with Spiletta’s big heart, as were the great champions of the past? Only time will tell.
Everybody talks about the stud (if you watched the Kentucky Derby,you know what I mean). But–hooray!–in this book, Lee Arthur talks about the mother who’ll carry the foal for nearly a year before giving birth. And this mother deserves all the attention. She’s going to eventually give birth to the famed Eclipse whose name (and therefore hers) appears in 95% of all thoroughbred pedigrees.