Three Chimneys Presents Good News Friday: Writing For a Cause - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Three Chimneys Presents Good News Friday: Writing For a Cause

Proceeds from Merle Horwitz’s latest novel, “Winners,” will benefit CANTER

Much like horse trainers, writers are never truly retired from their craft. After a lengthy career that has included seven books, numerous legal articles and time spent as an editor of a regional weekly newspaper in California, Merle Horwitz isn't done writing yet.

His latest book, a novel called “Winners,” was released in December. This time though when Horwitz keeps an eye on book sales it won't be with his own bank account in mind.

“When we started this whole thing about how to promote this book I said, 'You know, I'm fortunate right now. I don't need that money,'” he said. “We just decided to give the proceeds of this book and the next one to CANTER (Communication Alliance for Networking Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses).”

CANTER USA executive director Nancy Koch said that it's the first time an author has come up with this type of fundraiser. The funds will be split between CANTER's ten national bases according to the population of horses at each facility. The organization is volunteer-run, so the funds will go directly to the horses, Koch said.

Horwitz has spent most of his life making trips to the racetrack in his native California and considers himself a diehard fan. At the age of 20 he decided to drive from California to Louisville for his first Kentucky Derby in 1952. The drive took him two and a half days.

“I got there about one o'clock in the afternoon,” he said. “Went in, couldn't see a thing. A bunch of fat ladies shoving me around in big hats. I bet a horse, I don't know what the hell I bet but it didn't win. That was my whole adventure.”

Horwitz grew up helping his father (also a race fan and handicapper) edit two statewide newspapers focusing on labor and agricultural news near his hometown of Pasadena in the 1950s and 1960s.

“It was the old-fashioned mock-up, where they'd paste the news once they printed it and put it on a big bulletin board to figure out where everything went,” he said.

Author Merle Horwitz
Author Merle Horwitz

Horwitz was editor of the Pasadena Record and a contributing editor to the State Labor News alongside his career as a lawyer. He broke into the world of fiction with several short stories in the mid-1950s. His law firm focused on Beverly Hills and Century City-area clientele and ultimately grew to twelve lawyers across two offices, and he tried cases in half a dozen states.

Out of all the businesses and places Horwitz has seen, both as a journalist and as a lawyer, the racetrack seemed to him the obvious setting when he began writing fiction. Horwitz dreamt up fictional horseplayer and retired private eye Harvey Ace, who became the center of his novels “Bloody Silks” and “Dead Heat”, both published in the early 1990s.

Although the books were successful, Horwitz said his legal career took off after he wrote them, keeping him too busy to revisit Ace. He did find time to pen several non-fiction books, including “The Great Deli Cookbook” (a somewhat off-topic project for him, that he took on “just to see if he could”), “Defeat Foreclosure”, and “Love is Love But Business Is Business”.

Now retired from law, Horwitz, 84, revisits Ace in “Winners”. When readers pick back up with Ace, the character's past seems to be catching up with him as he receives anonymous threats. Ace attempts to chase down the source while keeping his private life afloat, and also prepares for his mare, Winning Silks, to return to the races.

Horwitz said that his love and admiration for Thoroughbreds has always been the basis of his interest in the sport, so the decision to support retired racehorses was an easy one.

“Nobody takes care of these horses. Nobody thinks about them when they're long gone,” he said. “There are some awfully wonderful horses that have been neglected terribly.

“These animals don't have a chance. When they're done with a gelding, what are they going to do with him? They just discard them and it's awful. These beautiful, beautiful animals deserve to be cared for. They just do.”

You can purchase “Winners” here.

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