Keeneland Library Assists Researchers with Unusual Projects

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LEXINGTON, KY (July 20, 2017) – Thoroughbred enthusiasts visit the Keeneland Library every day to enjoy the photographs, art and memorabilia on display and find information about a specific horse, horseman or subject. In mid-July, the Library assisted two researchers – Amir Zelinger from Boston and Darren Bernard from London – who traveled to Lexington to seek material as part of more unusual studies, one social and one economic.

Zelinger, a postdoctoral visiting scholar at the Department of History at Boston University who is from Israel, was interested in examining the Library’s collection of newspaper articles, journals and books about the science of horse breeding from 1945-1970. The reason: He is interested in how equine genetic theories and breeding practices in Germany and the U.S. changed after World War II when eugenics, the science of improving human populations through reproduction that for some time also had influenced horse and dog breeders, was shunned.

Two years ago, Zelinger first came to Lexington for the Agricultural History Society’s conference in Lexington during which he visited the Keeneland Library and saw a display of books and journals about horse breeding that triggered his idea.

“I knew I wanted to come back,” he said. Zelinger spent five days at the Library as Keeneland’s Scholar in Residence, modeled after the in-residence fellowship program at the National Sporting Library in Virginia that supports graduate research toward the production of dissertations.

Bernard, who has a Ph.D. in accounting from the University of Washington and is assistant professor of accounting at the London Business School, spent nearly two days at the Keeneland Library researching information related to his investigation of the impact of the Beyer Speed Figure on handle since its introduction in 1992. Therefore, he needed mutuel pools for most every race from 1991-1995, a search that required the use of the Library’s collection of Daily Racing Form material.

“We’ve come up with an idea for a research project that depends on finding a setting in some kind of a financial market – in this case horse racing – where we have (access) to the availability of a useful, decision-relevant summary measure of information,” said Bernard, who became an avid handicapper when he lived on the West Coast.

Bernard said he learned about the Keeneland Library several years ago and later began emailing Keeneland Library Director Becky Ryder about the information he was seeking. She helped him find what he needed on his brief trip.

“It’s worked out way behind my wildest expectations for how well this could possibly go,” he said.

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