Standardbred Inspires Children's Book

Veteran pacer Derek Bromac N enjoyed a long career on racetracks in both his native New Zealand and the United States — a career that stretched much longer than most. While an injury as a 13-year-old took him away from pari-mutuel racing and into the barn of Wisconsin native Amber Sawyer to recover, his heart never strayed too far from the racetrack. Sawyer, captivated by Derek Bromac N’s sheer drive to compete, put the gelding’s gallant story into words — words that turned the lifelong harness racing participant into a published author.

“I wrote about his amazing life shortly after he won (for the last time), then put it in a folder on my bookshelf,” Sawyer said in a recent profile published by the Beaver Dam Daily Citizen.

Five years after Derek Bromac N, now 20, earned his final career win by way of a 2:00.4 mile in an $845 conditioned pace at the Ironwood (Mich.) fair in August 2015, Sawyer decided it was time to share that story with the world. And with racing on Wisconsin’s modest county fair circuit on hiatus for the summer of 2020, the 38-year-old Sawyer — who has eight driving wins and 87 training wins to her credit — found herself with the opportunity to bring that manuscript to life.

“This spring, when COVID was in full blast, I really needed something positive and happy in my life,” she continued. “I came home and decided to make a phone call and see what I needed to do to get the ball rolling.”

The final product is the children’s book Love to Race, which features mixed-media illustrations from Sawyer’s longtime friend, painter and art therapist Tami Joe DeLisle. Since its public release in early November, Sawyer has sold approximately 300 copies of the book, largely through a variety of establishments in and around her home town of Mayville, Wisc. — an hour’s drive northwest of Milwaukee.

While Love to Race may not have been Sawyer’s first foray into published writing — her work has also been featured in Hoof Beats — it may well be her only book.

“I haven’t honestly thought of anything that can top this one,” she said. “This true story is told from my heart, and is something that will never happen again.”


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