The author, a novice about the racetrack, decided to learn from the bottom up and, if possible, track the development of a ""hopeful""--a big-stakes winner. Her excursion into a track education takes us through stables, down backstretches, into the heart of the sport of kings. She gives us the glitter of the rich and famous, the sleek thoroughbreds and the variegated backstage cast. In her search for a horse to follow, she haunts stables and hangs around trainers, and in the process gains an impressive amount of information. The glamour of the great horses is obvious, but the nitty-gritty of the business and the complexity of the players both human and equine are presented with a balance that includes a pervasive dark side. The purebred is a beautiful creature designed to fly on legs sometimes too fragile to support its desire and recklessness. The ones who survive (of the 30,000-plus new foals each year) make fortunes on the track and in stud for their owners. The others are often raced until they fall apart, then are carted off to the renderers. But, dark side and all, Flake's story of the racing business is fascinating and she's missed littie. The panoply, gossip, legends and pure outrageousness of the sport of kings is all here. A day at the races that's hard to forget.