YMMV / Seabiscuit

  • Nightmare Fuel: The very detailed descriptions in the book of how hard this sport is on jockeys. Specific examples below.
    • Reducing. Jockeys went to terrifying extremes to keep their weight down (miniscule caloric intake, vomiting, laxatives, tapeworms in pills, excessive sweating, etc.) and Hillenbrand does not leave out the resulting damage to their bodies. Made so much worse by the fact that it's not remotely exaggerated, and many modern jockeys still face the same dilemma and use some of the same methods of quick weight loss.
      • This was especially an issue for the real-life Red Pollard, who was extraordinarily tall for a jockey at 5'7" (1.70 m). Most top jockeys are barely 5 feet (1.52 m), if that.
      • It was also an equally large issue for his colleague George Woolf, who was diabetic—keep in mind that insulin wasn't even discovered until the 1920s, and diabetes treatment was naturally far cruder than it is today.
    • Injuries. Jockeys being crushed to death under falling horses, shattering bones, being paralyzed. And naturally, health insurance wouldn't touch them, so many kept riding with severe injuries because they couldn't afford to lose any income. There is a reason people say, "It's not a question of if you'll get hurt. It's how often and how badly" when discussing this sport. And again, despite massive technological advances in safety equipment, this still happens. The Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund was incorporated in 2006.
      • Red Pollard in particular had two horrifying wrecks. In February 1938, he and the filly Fair Knightess (also owned by Howard) fell during a race in heavy rain. His chest was crushed by the weight of the falling animal, and his ribs and arm were broken. He needed extensive surgery, and almost did not survive. In July of the same year, shortly before Seabiscuit's match race with War Admiral, he suffered a compound fracture in his right leg when a friend's horse spooked and bolted with him during a workout. Multiple surgeries later, he was told never to ride again, but that didn't stick.
      • George Woolf died from injuries suffered when he fell from his mount in a 1946 race. It's generally thought his diabetic condition caused him to faint at the worst possible time.
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