SEARCH FOR THE BREED by Fred Grove

SEARCH FOR THE BREED

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Zesty 19th-century Western humor about con men and great race-horses. Search for the Breed continues a series about Dude McQuinn, Coyote Walking and their fabulously knowledgeable old veterinarian buddy, Grandfather Billy. Young Dude is the romantic lead, money-handler and owner of Judge Pair, a six-year old whose pedigree is lost in mist but who goes like a lightning bolt when ridden by war-whooping Coyote, a Comanche known to recite Shakespeare. Dude and Coyote have drained all Texas dry of suckers and now have come to inveigle retired Grandfather Billy to go back on the road with them, since he is the most masterful hornswoggler on the North American continent. Their ploy is to run their switch horse Texas Jack, whose markings are painted to match Judge Pair's, in a match race, have him lose, and then in a rematch to switch in their ringer, Judge Pair, and have him win against wonderful odds. But all Texas knows Judge Pair by now. ""We've pulled the old workhorse wrinkle, rubbed peroxide on the Judge's shoulders and neck and hindquarters to look like harness marks, and draped that oversize collar on him before we drive into town, and we've trailed him behind the wagon like an el' packhorse. We've matched him under more aliases than a Texas outlaw."" Dude lures Grandfather Billy out of retirement by telling him that a man named Si Eckert, up in Illinois, knows the pedigree of Judge Pair and will reveal their great horse's breed if they find him. Billy can't resist the siren call of such lore and joins them. On their way to find Eckert, they stop off here and there for several match races, each of which demands great ingenuity from the con men. Eventually they find themselves in St. Louis and enter Judge Pair in that great race, then trace Eckert to Lexington and wind up entering Judge in the Kentucky Derby. When they finally find Eckert, he's the lowest of the low, a horsethief, and they fear he'll never reveal the sire and dam for Judge. A mint julep for horseplayers and lovers, full of delightful lore about thoroughbreds. Not a bald spot anywhere.

Pub Date: May 16th, 1986
Publisher: Doubleday