Cover image for Stud : adventures in breeding
Stud : adventures in breeding
Conley, Kevin, 1960-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Bloomsbury, 2002.
Physical Description:
x, 209 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
SF290.U6 C66 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The most expensive thirty seconds in sports.

Every year, on Valentine's Day, the great Thoroughbred farms open their breeding sheds and begin their primary business. For the next one hundred and fifty days, the cries of stallions and the vigorous encouragement of their handlers echo through breeding country, from the gentle hills of Kentucky to the rich valleys of California.

First appearing as an article in The New Yorker , Stud takes you into this strange and seductive world. We move from Lexington's Overbrook Farm, where the world's leading sire, Storm Cat, a lightly raced eighteen-year-old, brings in around thirty million dollars a year; to the auction halls, where sheiks and bookies (known more casually as the Doobie Brothers and the Boys) bid millions for Storm Cat's well-bred offspring. We visit Three Chimneys, where the twenty-seven-year-old Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, a senior citizen by equine standards, makes a rousing return to active duty after spinal surgery, and stroll through Running Horse Farm, on the banks of the Rio Grande, where a nearly unmanageable colt, Devil Begone, has found peace and prosperity servicing desert mares like Patty O'Furniture.

Cheap stud, top stud, old stud, wild stud, from the Hall of Fame horse to the harem stallion with his feral herd, Stud looks at intimate acts in idyllic settings (and the billion-dollar business behind them), providing a voyeuristic glimpse of just how human the equine world can be.

Author Notes

Kevin Conley is a staff writer at The New Yorker . His writing has appeared in Details, US Weekly , The New York Times Sunday Magazine , and Sports Illustrated . He lives in New York.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Conley, a staff writer at the New Yorker, tells us all we never even knew we wanted to know about the sex lives of horses. The story ranges from the bluegrass country of Kentucky, where the highly regimented but still savagely passionate couplings of Storm Cat, the world's leading Thoroughbred sire, bring in millions of dollars each spring, to a scrubby wildlife preserve in Pennsylvania, where a herd of semiwild Shetland ponies divides into harems to perpetuate itself. There is even a chapter about the chillingly efficient artificial insemination practiced at Standardbred stud farms, where stallions can sire thousands of offspring while technically remaining virgins. Though the book's natural audience consists of those involved in breeding horses, just about anyone will find much of interest in this examination of the arcane but undeniably fascinating world of equine procreation. --Dennis Dodge

Publisher's Weekly Review

Funny, insightful and surprisingly engaging, this part travelogue on Kentucky bluegrass country and part guide to equine breeding offers far more than one might initially expect. The world's priciest stud, Storm Cat (a direct descendant of Secretariat), earns a whopping $500,000 per tryst. The randy stallion's "muck" is used by Campbell Soup to fertilize its mushroom fields. Conley, a New Yorker staff writer, takes readers to an auction where two camps a stoic group of Irishmen known in horse circles as "the boys" and a modish collection of sheikhs inexplicably called "the Doobie Brothers" square off on fillies and colts fetching upwards of $3 million. But Conley doesn't stop there: he considers the advancement of civilization through the history of horses. He argues that through horse trading the nomads of Kazakhstan brought their proto-Indo-European language to most of Europe and South Asia. "History had begun," he writes, "built on the way a horse can cover ground." Conley also illustrates the racial and socioeconomic backdrop of horse country with rather telling accounts of the interactions between black and white, blue collar and blueblood that shape the equine community. The upshot is a vividly equine-centric view of social, cultural and economic human history. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This book was not written to meet massive pent-up reader demand, but it does offer an engaging lay reader's introduction to the business of breeding Thoroughbred horses. Conley, a staff writer with The New Yorker, takes us to high-profile horse auctions; to picturesque big-money farms in bluegrass Kentucky, the Mecca of Thoroughbred breeding; to second-tier farms in California and a remote stud-farm-of-last-resort run by old hippies in New Mexico; to a preserve for semiferal Shetland ponies where nature takes its course without careful human intervention; and (many times) into the high-stakes bedroom, so to speak. We meet Storm Cat, the stud's stud, whose services are sold for up to $500,000 per breeding and whose offspring earned more than $21 million at the track in 1999 and 2000; the old warrior Seattle Slew, coming back to his duties following delicate surgery; and Distinctive Cat, a son of Storm Cat and now a stud himself, who, through a "telepathic animal communicator," grants the author an interview (Distinctive Cat is happy with his job, thank you, and he doesn't even take into account the sexual aspect). A nice buy for libraries with big budgets or that are located in horse country. Jim Burns, Jacksonville P.L., FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.