A harness racehorse's true story inspires kids on its book tour of inspiration
NORFOLK, Neb. -- The true story of a prized racehorse named Derek inspired a book called "Love to Race" which has been making its way across Nebraska.
Author Amber Sawyer is on a 10-stop book signing tour in Nebraska stopping at various schools and libraries to share the history of harness racing in Nebraska as well as the history Derek has made.
"My horse is a harness racing horse from New Zealand; he came over to the United States when he was 4 years old," said Sawyer. "He made just over a quarter million dollars racing, had a wonderful career, and retired at the age of 15 as the oldest winning racehorse in the entire country."
Sawyer said that she was inspired to tell the story of her horse Derek in 2020 during Covid, at a time when she knew people would need a relatable feel-good read.
During Derek's accomplished career, he was struck with what was supposed to be a career-ending injury but persevered to continue racing and winning.
"I think it was important because it's a story that everyone can relate to," Sawyer said. "Sometimes things are hard, and you shouldn't give up, and my horse is a lesson for people that just because you're told you shouldn't do something, you shouldn't give up, you should follow, and do what you love."
Derek now lives a life of retirement in Wisconsin with Sawyer and her family, and he occasionally travels with her to share his story in person.
Once done with her Nebraska book tour, Sawyer will return home to Wisconsin to continue telling their story at schools during Reading Across America Week.