Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

The Preface describes just how famous Seabiscuit was back around 1938. Our generation has grown up in an age where horse races are not famous, but rather football and baseball games, rock stars, and political figures are. Seabiscuit had trains that were “Seabiscuit Limited” and there was even Seabiscuit revenue that sold like crazy. Seabiscuit, for my generation, could be comparable to the Big Ben of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Red Pollard, Tom Smith, and Charles Howard formed a team that carried Seabiscuit to the top.

Chapter 1 introduces a main character, Charles Howard. He moves to San Francisco, California, with barely any money, and starts a bike repair shop. In San Francisco, the “horse-less” carriage arose which many were afraid of. Howard saw opportunity. He created an automobile repair shop. He then traveled to Detroit and met with the Will Durant, chief of Buick Automobiles, whom then hired Howard. On April 18, 1906, there was an earthquake in San Francisco. The horse carriages could not take the firefighters in the fire to save the injured and homeless people or to get rid of the dead.

Howard let them use the three cars he had, which in turn worked and showed automobiles’ superiority. He had started a revelation. Howard then started doing daring stunts and races to promote a car’s durability.

He was all over the press; whether in heroic stories of him winning a race or an ad for Buick’s, he had the limelight. In 1926, a rich, successful Howard took his wife out to Del Monte, and left their 15-year-old son, Frankie, at home.

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When they were gone, tragedy struck. Frankie had taken the car out with some friends to go fishing. On their way home, they were driving on a canyon road and saw a large rock, which he swerved to avoid. The car went down over the edge. Frankie’s spine and skull crushed, he was dead. Howard was devastated; he never quite got over it.

In the 1920’s, if a man wanted to sin, California was not the place to be. So instead they traveled to Tijuana which was a town to go when you wanted to sin. There was alcohol, gambling, dancing, and cavorting all over the town. There, the Tijuana Racecourse was built; many called it ugly but had the first movable gates and photo finishes. Here Howard would sometimes travel.

Charles’ son was married to Anita, who was pregnant. During her pregnancy, she asked her sister Marcela to come and stay with them. While she was there, she and Charles fell in love.

Only a few more horses clopped down the streets in San Francisco, cars were the main attraction. Charles was rich, but bored, so he moved on to horseracing.

Former pro baseball player Charles Strub lost everything in the stock market, he decided to build a racetrack and bring racing back to California. Only two conditions racing become legal again. One, tracks had to use the pari-mutuel wagering machine instead of the bookmakers. Two, wagering would be heavily taxed. Charles Howard went on the look for the best trainer.


The town of Tijuana reminds me of Las Vegas, which is also known as Sin City. Both towns have many things that are frowned upon and when you go, you come back like it never happened.

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Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand. (2019, Dec 05). Retrieved from

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
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