Crazy Good: The True Story of Dan Patch, the Most Famous Horse in America Audiobook, by Charles Leerhsen Play Audiobook Sample

Crazy Good: The True Story of Dan Patch, the Most Famous Horse in America Audiobook

Crazy Good: The True Story of Dan Patch, the Most Famous Horse in America Audiobook, by Charles Leerhsen Play Audiobook Sample
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Read By: Malcolm Hillgartner Publisher: Brilliance Audio Listen Time: at 1.0x Speed 8.67 hours at 1.5x Speed 6.50 hours at 2.0x Speed Release Date: July 2020 Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download ISBN: 9781713501770

Quick Stats About this Audiobook

Total Audiobook Chapters:


Longest Chapter Length:

52:25 minutes

Shortest Chapter Length:

05:46 minutes

Average Chapter Length:

32:24 minutes

Audiobooks by this Author:


Other Audiobooks Written by Charles Leerhsen: > View All...

Publisher Description

". . . a wry, moving account of America's first epidemic of sports fever." —Entertainment Weekly

Who was the most famous athlete one hundred years ago? A horse. In fact, harness racer Dan Patch was more than a celebrity, he was once the most recognizable figure in American sports.

Born with a bad leg and nearly euthanized in 1896, Dan Patch led an ordinary wagon horse existence, pulling the grocer’s cart in Oxford, Indiana. It was when he won a race at the Indiana State Fair that Dan Patch’s fame began to build.

At the time, harness racing was America’s favorite sport and as Dan Patch began beating world records and achieving unheard-of times, he caught the attention of not only fans, but corporations. In fact, this magnificent animal became the first celebrity sports endorser of everything from razors and cigars to breakfast cereal and washing machines.

Listen to this fascinating true story of the first massive sports star in America, and hear how a horse became a household name, delighting and uplifting an entire country.

“A terrific look at a legendary if now forgotten equine superstar named Dan Patch. Leerhsen does for early 20th-century American harness racing what Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit did for Depression-era Thoroughbred racing. . . . Thanks to Leerhsen, Dan Patch returns for another good run.” —Deirdre Donahue, USA Today

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It is difficult for the contemporary mind to fathom that there was a time when harness racing—trotters and pacers—was king in America. Yet from about 1885 to about 1915, an era when the horse and buggy were the most common form of transportation, harness racing was more popular than Thoroughbred racing, baseball, and boxing, hands down. And in the middle of that era, the undefeated pacer Dan Patch was the king of harness racing. After he ran out of equine competition, he paced against the clock, setting and repeatedly lowering track, state, and world records while drawing crowds up to 117,000 and pocketing appearance fees of up to $21,500. His most lucrative activity, netting up to $1 million a year at a time when the dollar was worth 20 times its current value, was “endorsing” scores of products ranging from tobacco tins to washing machines. Leerhsen tells the story of Dan Patch and his connections—the series of scoundrels and self-promoters who served as his owners and drivers—with humor and a fine sense of detail. The author no doubt owes a debt to Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit, which created both the mold and the audience for a certain kind of exhaustively researched book about a horse and his people; but that doesn’t make his work any less fascinating.

— Booklist *Starred Review* 


  • “In this spirited narrative, Leerhsen, an editor at Sports Illustrated, tells the now-forgotten saga of Dan Patch, a race horse that at one time drew an estimated 60,000 people to a single event in 1903. Admitting from the outset that the events of this book may seem as if they transpired on another planet, Leerhsen delivers a mesmerizing look into a strange corner of American sports and folk history when Dan Patch became a household word, earning roughly $1 million a year at a time when, Leerhsen notes, the-highest paid baseball player, Ty Cobb, was making $12,000. The arc of Dan Patch's career involves a range of often unscrupulous entrepreneurs: his first owner, Dan Messner Jr., who overpays by mistake for an injured pace horse and whose drunken decision to breed the pace horse with a wild stallion results in Dan Patch's birth; the horse's second trainer, Myron McHenry, who despite his conflicts with Messner grooms the horse for success; and M.W. Savage, the horse's final owner, who makes millions from Patch-related merchandise while overworking an obviously tired animal. But the heart of the book is Dan Patch himself, a horse with an almost human capacity for calm and determination that deserves to be rediscovered by a modern audience.

    — Publishers Weekly (June)
  • Leerhsen vividly recounts Dan-mania and digs up dirt on the colorful gamblers and shady horse handlers of the 1900s. In rescuing Dan from the mists of history, he also draws a wry, moving account of America's first epidemic of sports fever.

    — Entertainment Weekly

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About Charles Leerhsen

Charles Leerhsen is a former executive editor at Sports Illustrated. He has written for Rolling Stone, Esquire, and the New York Times. His books include Crazy Good: The True Story of Dan Patch, the Most Famous Horse in America and Blood and Smoke: A True Tale of Mystery, Mayhem, and the Birth of the Indy 500. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the writer Sarah Saffian.

About Malcolm Hillgartner

Malcolm Hillgartner is an accomplished actor, writer, and musician. Named an AudioFile Best Voice of 2013 and the recipient of several Earphones Awards, he has narrated over 250 audiobooks.