On October 20, 1923, at New York's Belmont Park, Kentucky Derby champion Zev toed the starting line alongside Papyrus, winner of England's greatest horse race, the Epsom Derby. The $100,000 purse for the novel intercontinental showdown was the largest in the history of America's oldest sport and writers across the country were calling it the "Race of the Century." A victory for the American colt in this blockbuster event would change how the nation viewed horse racing forever.
In this book, James C. Nicholson exposes the central role of politics, money, and ballyhoo in the Jazz Age resurgence of the sport of kings. Though the Zev-Papyrus face-off was one of the most hyped sporting events of the early twentieth century, Nicholson reveals that it soon faded from American popular memory when it became known that Zev's owner, oil tycoon Harry F. Sinclair, was involved in an infamous scandal to defraud the United States of millions of barrels of publicly owned oil. As a result, Zev became an apt mascot for a nation struggling to reconcile its traditional values with the modern complexities of the Roaring Twenties, and his tainted legacy ultimately proved to be incompatible with tenets of national mythology that celebrate America as a place where hard work and fair play lead to prosperity.
"James C. Nicholson returns to the track, with his signature blend of compelling insight and elegant prose. In these pages, he vividly depicts 1923's international match race as an electrifying contest and as a window into the turbulent history of the United States after World War I." -- Katherine C. Mooney, author of Race Horse Men: How Slavery and Freedom Were Made at the Racetrack
"Jamie Nicholson's Racing for America is a captivating exploration of a critical moment in American racing and how a match race run nearly a century ago influences our era of horse racing. He weaves together the disparate forces and personalities that come together to bring post-war America the diversion of the Old World versus the New, and, in the process, creates a portrait of a sport overcoming its near-death experience to rival baseball for America's favorite sport. Come for the story of this legendary horse race and stay for an engrossing examination of how modern spectacles like the Breeder's Cup came to be." -- Jennifer S. Kelly, author of Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown
"Nicholson once again has discerned and described the many ways the sport of Thoroughbred racing can respond to, reflect, and perhaps even advance American attitudes and ambitions. He provides another highly intriguing and lively narrative which will grasp and entertain readers, whether new to the subject of racing or already familiar with the historic sport." -- Edward L. Bowen, author of 22 books on Thoroughbred racing