Perfect Timing - Jockey Isaac Murphy
Perfect Timing - Jockey Isaac MurphyPerfect Timing - Jockey Isaac MurphyPerfect Timing - Jockey Isaac Murphy

Perfect Timing - Jockey Isaac Murphy

Item Number: 5757
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Patsi Trollinger's beautiful children's book about Isaac Murphy, one of Kentucky's greatest jockeys, is richly illustrated by award-winning artist Jerome Lagarrigue. For readers ages 7-12, nearly 10,000 copies have been used in Kentucky literacy program
Price: $14.99
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Perfect Timing

How Isaac Murphy Became One of the World's Greatest Jockeys

Written by Patsi B. Trollinger

Illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue

Isaac Murphy was one of the greatest jockeys in the history of horseracing. But if it hadn't been for one lucky day in 1873, he might never have ridden at all. On that day, Isaac was offered the chance to ride a horse. He took the opportunity, and from the moment he sat in the saddle his life changed forever.

Isaac - the grandson of slaves - became a jockey, which allowed him to escape a future of labor and poverty. But Isaac wasn't just a jockey. He was one of the best. He won more races and set more records than almost anyone. Ever. Many of his records still stand today.

Captured in stunningly vibrant paintings by Jerome Lagarrigue, and with a lively text from Kentucky author Patsi B. Trollinger, Perfect Timing is a winning combination of sports, history, and inspiring biography.


ISBN  978-097934312-4

Softcover, 32 pages, 22 original color illustrations

Recommended for ages 7 and up

Schools and libraries may fax a purchase order to 888-879-0467.

Published by Benjamin Press and available wholesale at 800.765.2139


  • Recommended for Black History Month

  • Junior Library Guild Selection

  • Children's Cooperative Book Center "Best of the Year" List

  • Free Lesson Plans available online


"Readers will love the atmospherics of flying dirt and surging horses."
-The Chicago Tribune

Product Reviews

(7 Ratings, 7 Reviews) Average Rating:
Richard A. O'Driscoll (United States) 6/24/2016 2:23 PM
A very well written book. Please tell the author to keep writing good books! Ms.Trollinger has a way of making the words sing!
Inspiring story for young readers
Bruce Richardson (Perryville, KY) 6/24/2016 2:23 PM
This inspiring true story captivates young readers. Jerome Lagarrigue's original illustrations alone are worth the price of the book!
Underdog Amazes the Horse Racing World
Josephine (Virginia, USA) 6/24/2016 2:21 PM
The story of Isaac Murphy is inspirational for all children but especially for children of African American heritage. This young man was a former slave who became a great jockey. His name continues to be in the record books even today! Children love the action involved with horse racing and are mesmerized by the lovely artwork. This is a must read historically and for pure enjoyment!
For a new generation
LonestarReader (Texas, USA) 6/24/2016 2:20 PM
Derby Day seems like the perfect day to share this book. Isaac Murphy was a three time Kentucky Derby winner and is the only jockey buried on the grounds of the famous Kentucky Horse Park. Author, Patsi Trollinger makes the point that Isaac Burns Murphy's timing was perfect in life as well as on the track. The son of a slave, he lived at a time when black jockeys could enjoy a successful career in racing, before they were forced out of the sport early in the 20th century. Trollinger describes his career beginning with his early training in Lexington where he learned the importance of pace and concentration. Murphy went on to become one of the most sought after jockeys of his time. The exciting match race between Salvatore and Tenny is told in such detail that the reader feels like they are standing at the rail watching the race. Jerome Lagarrigue's soft focus paintings convey the speed and power of the horses. The colors are dark and muddied which imparts the yesteryear feel of the story. The reader eyes do need to linger on the pictures to fully appreciate and discern the images. Isaac Burns Murphy had a reputation for honesty and fair play. "He had rules for himself that were firm: no cheating, no fighting, no swearing. And he rode every race, large of small, as if it was the most important one of his life." This is a lovely tribute to a man of character and who might otherwise be unknown to this generation.
Robert Beveridge (Brunswick, OH) 6/24/2016 2:18 PM
Patsi B. Trollinger, Perfect Timing: How Isaac Murphy Became One of the World's Greatest Jockeys (Viking, 2006) Isaac Murphy. Even now, over a century after his death, the very mention of his name inspires reverence among most racing fans. Patsi Trollinger gives a good intro to Murphy's life and career in Perfect Timing, a book aimed at, roughly, the preschool set. Her clear prose is well-complemented by Jerome LaGarrigue's impressionist illustrations. A worthy addition to the bookshelf of any horse racing fan, or any horse racing fan's child.