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“This is a great read for all fans of Thoroughbred racing. Barry Irwin shares his unique approach to identify and negotiate the purchase of racing prospects on an International basis. He also takes the reader through his approach to the International Bloodsock market that was key to the birth and development of a Kentucky Derby and World Champion. All racing fans will be interested in the behind the scenes challenges and key decisions in managing a Kentucky Derby and World Cup Champion. A primer read for upcoming Derby.” -Tom Furey


“If Barry Irwin hadn’t been born, Damon Runyon would have had to invent him. Runyon himself couldn’t create characters as colorful as the real-life horse racing insiders and hangers-on Irwin writes about as he chronicles a life in thoroughbred racing. This is a horse racing classic as one of the game’s most iconoclastic characters tells all about his victories, losses and his greatest win.”-Mark Belling


“A must read for anyone with interest in the Thoroughbred game ! Mr. Irwin has long been a major player in the sport, and in this book reveals many interesting, funny and oftentimes bitter-sweet remembrances. Best of all, he pulls no punches in telling the story and revealing the industry’s mistakes and foibles that have lead to it’s steady decline in the US.

He ends with a searing discussion of what is needed to bring back the sport he so dearly loves to it’s former prominence.” -Nick Ben-Meir


I wish I could give this book six stars out of five; it is that good! I purchased Derby Innovator because I was interested in the story of Animal Kingdom’s epic win in the Kentucky Derby, his success on both dirt and turf, and (finally) that glorious run he made in the Dubai World Cup. IMHO, Animal Kingdom is the most interesting American Thoroughbred of the 2000s and that alone is reason enough to read this text. Irwin did a brilliant job telling this story both in terms of how the foal came to be, his early training and development under Graham Motion, and then the triumphs and disappointments with his career (chapters 22-27 cover these topics; there are 28 chapters in the whole book).

But the real genius of this book is that it is so much more than the Animal Kingdom story; it is the story of Barry Irwin who is one intriguing guy. Anyone that knows American TB handicapping recognizes that you should take note when there is a Team Valor horse in the field. They are always well-positioned and ‘live’ and even if you don’t ‘see it’ in the past performances, you can bet (and often I do) that the horse is in the right race for the right reason. The thoughtful team behind all this: Team Valor. The founder and CEO: Barry Irwin. But how did this come to be? Read More…