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In the December 30, 1967, edition of the weekly Thoroughbred trade publication, the Blood-Horse, was an announcement that took up one inch of space—James E. “Ted” Bassett III had been named assistant to the president of the Keeneland Association. It was sandwiched between equally short news items about a handicapping seminar at an East Coast racetrack and a California vacation trip by a horse-owning couple. Bassett’s new job, in his own words, “was not earthshaking news.” More than four decades later, Ted Bassett is one of the most respected figures within the global Thoroughbred industry. He has served as Keeneland’s president, chairman of the board, and trustee, playing a critical role in its ascendency as a premier Thoroughbred track and auction house. Bassett was also president of Breeders’ Cup Limited during its greatest period of growth and has been a key architect in the development of the Sport of Kings as we know it today.
Written in collaboration with two-time Eclipse Award–winning journalist Bill Mooney, Keeneland’s Ted Bassett: My Life recounts Bassett’s extraordinary journey, including his days at Kent School and Yale University, through his U.S. Marine Corps service in the Pacific theater during World War II, and as director of the Kentucky State Police during the turbulent 1960s. He helped found the College of Justice & Safety at Eastern Kentucky University, and his continuing service to the Marine Corps has gained him the highest honors accorded to a civilian. During his forty-plus years with Keeneland, Bassett has hobnobbed with hot walkers in the track kitchen, hosted the first visit by Queen Elizabeth II to a United States track, and participated in many of the most important events in the modern history of horse racing.
With self-effacing humor, characteristic charm, and candor, Bassett describes his association with historic figures such as J. Edgar Hoover and Kentucky governors Albert B. “Happy” Chandler, Edward T. “Ned” Breathitt, and John Y. Brown; and his friendships with racing personalities D. Wayne Lukas, Nick Zito, Ron McAnally, Pat Day, and Joe Hirsch. Bassett shares details about difficult corporate decisions and great racing events that only he can supply, and about the formation of Equibase, the premier data collection agency within the Thoroughbred industry. He tells about his role as an international ambassador for racing, which has made him a highly influential figure on six continents. Bassett often describes his life as a fascinating blur.
That “blur” and all its unique components are brought into sharp focus in a book that is as wide-ranging as it is personal, filled with a gold mine of firsthand stories and historical details. In addition to highlighting Keeneland’s reputation as the jewel of the Thoroughbred industry, Bassett chronicles the business of racing and accomplishments of many prominent people in the horse world, and elsewhere, during the twentieth century.
James E. “Ted” Bassett III continues to serve as Keeneland’s trustee emeritus, and in this capacity he chairs fund-raising drives throughout the Bluegrass region.
Bill Mooney has covered racing for the New York Times, Thoroughbred Record and Blood-Horse, and is currently a contributing editor for Thoroughbred Times.
Winner of the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, presented by Castleton Lyons farm and Thoroughbred Times
"Perhaps only in Kentucky can one move effortlessly from serving as Commissioner of State Police to managing one of the world’s most unique race tracks and dine with the Queen of England."—Terry Birdwhistell, Associate Dean of Special Collections and Digital Programs, University of Kentucky Libraries
"“Bassett has been our ambassador for Thoroughbred racing around the world, and has placed his stamp on every aspect of the sport, accomplishing this with the grip of a Marine and the air of a gentleman.” --William S. Farish, former U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain and master of Lane's
"A valuable portrait of the Sport of Kings for racing aficionados and historians. Documenting the private details that shaped Bassett’s public achievements, the autobiography offers a unique insight into the world of horse racing and the shaping of both Keeneland and an entire industry."—University of Kentucky News
"[The autobiography] richly details Bassett’s career in the Thoroughbred industry, at Keeneland, as president of Breeders’ Cup Ltd. and through his journeys as an ambassador for racing on six continents."—Blood Horse
"This is autobiography at its finest – superbly written, entertaining and engaging."—Business Lexington
"Because of its unique presentation, this book is a gold mine of first-hand stories and historic information not only about the racing industry, but about life in Kentucky."—Paintsville Herald
"There is something here for everyone who has any affinity at all for horse racing....The book is well recommended."—Bowling Green Daily News
"A delightful ride with a host full of humor and charm."—Yale Alumni Magazine
"A book that is as wide-ranging as it is personal, filled with a gold mine of firsthand stories and historical details."—ebook30.com
"One of those rare racing autobiographies that transcends the sport in which it is largely based. Beautifully written, with humor and endearing self-deprecation, it captured me right out of the gate and kept me riveted around the turn, down the stretch, and across the finish line. With wit, grace, and personal insight, the winning book chronicles [Bassett’s] life from school boy, Yale University graduate, and U.S. Marine, to a stint as a director of the Kentucky State Police, and finally, through his years as one of Thoroughbred racing’s best-known and respected ambassadors."—Thoroughbred Times
"The book chronicles [Bassett’s] life from school boy, Yale University graduate, and U.S. Marine, to a stint as director of the Kentucky State Police, and finally, through his years as one of Thoroughbred racing’s best-known and respected ambassadors."—Barbara Livingston, Lancaster Farming
The University Press of Kentucky
Place of Publication
Ted Bassett, Keeneland, Kentucky, Horse racing
Bassett, James E. "Ted" III and Mooney, Bill, "Keeneland's Ted Bassett: My Life" (2009). Business. Book 8.