Writing as both a fan and an experienced racing journalist, Mary Perdue brings Landaluce back to life as a phenomenal racehorse, a distinct personality, and the focus of a special kind of love story for her trainer, D. Wayne Lukas. The filly's life story is intimately intertwined with that of Spendthrift Farm, where she was bred; with the hopes and fears surrounding the beginning of Seattle Slew's stud career; and with the lives and hearts of the people of Lukas's racing operation. Perdue's handling of the filly's relationship with her trainer is particularly deft and touching: Lukas has since trained other champions and has earned his way into racing's Hall of Fame, but as Perdue shows, Landaluce was a "once-in-a-lifetime" for him, a horse that deeply touched his heart and brought out the human side of the hard-driving, perfectionistic man called "Coach."
Landaluce's story does not have a happy ending, but Perdue's narration provides an empathetic look at the joys as well as the sorrows of the filly's brief life without ever descending to sentimentalism or making Landaluce something other than what she was: a horse. Her work is a worthy finalist for the 17tn annual Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award and a worthwhile addition to the library of any lover of the Thoroughbred.