Monday, May 10, 2021

My Lifelong Passion for Horseracing

Hi everyone, today I'm pleased to give up my blog date to introduce you to a special friend of mine. Annette Dashofy and I have been online critique partners, beta readers and personal friends since I'm thinking 2003. She's an amazing human being who likes horses, cats, and squirrels -- sometimes I fear more than she likes people. Seriously, she's a great human, which is why I'm giving her the floor to talk about her lifelong passion for horseracing and a great novel I highly recommend. Please welcome Annette Dashofy.   ~Donnell Ann Bell 

Author Annette Dashofy

When you ask a group of mystery authors who they read when they were kids, the majority will offer answers like Nancy Drew or Encyclopedia Brown. While I may have read a few of the Nancy Drews, my passion rested elsewhere. I read every book Walter Farley wrote. Multiple times. I loved both The Black Stallion and The Island Stallion series.  

Yes, there was a movie. []

The books are better although the movie was quite good.

Farley’s books played a huge role in my passion for horses. Long before I owned a real one, I had a barn full of pretend ones. 

The horses were pretend. The barn was real, but the only livestock it housed was cattle.

I “rode” my pretend horses, being the rider from the waist up and the horse from the waist down. I galloped around the farm and sometimes around imaginary racetracks. I had an equally horse-crazy, Walter Farley-reading friend who shared my rider/horse fantasies. We’d hold “match races” for our horses. Mine usually lost.  

My love of horseracing may have started with and been fueled by Alec and The Black from the Farley books, but the real thing quickly drew me in. Back then, the only races broadcast on television were the Triple Crown races: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes. 

The first winner I remember was a Venezuelan longshot by the name of Canonero II who came from behind to win the Derby in 1971. Experts deemed the victory a fluke. He proved them wrong by also winning the Preakness. Bitten by the Triple Crown bug at the age of 11, my heart broke when he came up short, finishing fourth in the Belmont. 

Two years later, a horse by the name of Secretariat won all three Triple Crown races, the first to do so in twenty-five years. My love of the sport was solidified. Watching the videos of Secretariat, especially his Belmont win, still takes my breath away. 

Okay, we sold him when he was a yearling, so I never got to ride him, but he was black and he was male, so that counts.

Fast forward again to 2021. Medina Spirit, a moderate longshot, won the Kentucky Derby on May 1. The second leg of the Triple Crown is this Saturday, May 15. Will Medina Spirit claim the second leg as well? If so, horseracing fans worldwide, myself included, will be in a frenzy leading into the first Saturday in June.

And I have the book I started in 2005 finally coming out tomorrow. The fact that the cover is reminiscent of several of Farley’s books is total coincidence. The fact that I’m releasing it in the middle of the Triple Crown races is not.

Death by Equine is set in the world of Thoroughbred racing, although far from Churchill Downs, Pimlico, or Belmont.

About Death by Equine:  Veterinarian Jessie Cameron agrees to fill in for her mentor, Doc Lewis, at Riverview Racetrack so he can take a long-overdue vacation. When he’s tragically killed by one of his equine patients the night before he’s supposed to leave, Jessie quickly suspects the death is anything but accidental. Her search for the truth is thwarted by everyone from well-meaning friends to the police, including her soon-to-be-ex-husband. Undaunted, she discovers layers of illegal activities and deceit being perpetrated by the man she thought of as a father figure, creating a growing list of suspects with reason to want Doc dead. Too late, she realizes that her dogged quest for the truth has put her in the crosshairs of a devious killer desperate to silence her. Permanently.

About the Author:  Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of the multi–Agatha Award nominated Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. Her latest release, a standalone, is Death by Equine, about a veterinarian at a second-rate thoroughbred racetrack seeking the truth about her mentor’s mysterious death. She and her husband live on ten acres of what was her grandfather’s dairy farm in southwestern Pennsylvania with their very spoiled cat, Kensi.







  1. Thanks for giving up your spot for me, Donnell. And BREAKING NEWS. It was revealed yesterday that Media Spirit has tested positive for an illegal anti inflammatory steroid following his Kentucky Derby win. It could be months before a determination is made over disqualifying his win. Meanwhile, the Preakness (second leg of the Triple Crown) is this Saturday. Once again, the reality of horseracing provides as much drama and conflict as fiction!

  2. Annette, so nice to see you here. Best of luck on Death by Equine!

  3. Annette, I'm so excited about this book. I do recall saying then asking, "This is a great book; when's it coming out." To which you replied, "It's not part of the Zoe Chambers series, which you were killing it!" I thought what does that have to do with anything. :) So happy when I get my way! Best wishes for a fantastic sell-through.

    1. Donnell, if you hadn't kept prompting me to do something with this book, it would still be collecting virtual dust. Thanks for nudging.

  4. Welcome, Annette. I love the premise of DEATH BY EQUINE. Cheers!

  5. Annette ... wishing you the best. I see so many roads you'll be able to go down with truth and fiction in the equine world. Best of luck with the new book!

  6. Good luck on your new book, Annette.