What auctioneer Finney recalls most vividly are luxurious moments centered around whiskey and talk of fine horseflesh -- anecdotes about thoroughbreds that brought unexpectedly fancy prices under his gavel. Now a famous figure in the world of the wealthiest stables, Finney first fell in love with horses as a poor boy back in England. After coming to the States in his teens, he worked on several farms just to be around them. He's run up the bidding to historic prices on some of the greatest horses of the past decades, including Nashua and Gallant Man. His loaded clients have included Louis B. Mayer, the Aga Khan and Prince Aly -- the sales of their stables making international news. Louis B. Mayer sat through the first auction Finney ran for him with disappointment brimming in his eyes. Later, he told Finney that he'd gone at such a fast clip that none of the guests could grasp the essentials of beauty and breeding in Mayer's horses. Finney slowed down for the second one, which was lighted and mounted by M-G-M studios, and Mayer glowed. This is a sometimes colorful book, suavely told but never really compelling.