Federation of Canadian Poets

Praise for Ballads of the Turf

A unique, one-of-a-kind collection. Daily Racing Form, New York

A beautiful lilting read that bares the soul of Thoroughbred horse racing. Gerry Belanger, Eclipse-Award-winning trainer

The poems are witty and rhyme with an engaging rhythm, galloping along as they tell of the human and equine characters that make up the equine world. Horses in Art Magazine, Jamul, California

CrownThe Queen much enjoyed your amusing verses. Susan Hussey, Lady-in-Waiting for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II


Sandy Hawley for The ScoreIt will take you to a horse racing place you can't get to anymore, Down the Stretch Magazine.

I feel some Robert Service energy and hear some Edward Lear. All in all it quite rollicks around the track. Dr. Laurie Ricou, Editor, Canadian Quarterly of Criticism and Review, University of British Columbia

Loved it: wistful and charming. Galvin is racing's Robert Service. Curtis Stock, nine-time Sovereign Award winning sportswriter for the Edmonton Journal

A first in verse, a look back at a slice of racing history, the memories that horsemen treasure. Sandy Hawley, one of the sport's greatest race riders. Eclipse Award winner (twice), a Member of the Order of Canada and a Member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame

Bill Galvin lived among the Damon Runyonesque-type characters of whom he writes, while toiling on the backstretches of almost every major racetrack in North America . . . giving him the inspiration to write of the unforgettable characters who populate his ballads. The Mississauga Public Library

A joyful canter down memory lane for those of us who enjoy (and remember) life in the world of Thoroughbred horse racing. Linda McLaren, Horse Lover

Doctors Orders: Your backstretch ballads are better than medicine. They are the read that I prescribe for everyone who loves horses and horseracing. Dr. John McNie, DVM, PHD

Only a racing man, and only a racing man who knows the game and the backstretch as well as anyone alive could have written Ballads of the Turf. Happily you don't have to be a racing man , or woman, to enjoy them. They are hugely entertaining. If by chance you are a racing person, it will brighten your horizons and make you understand why you love the game. If you're not, prepare to enter a delightful new world of the wild characters who occupy the racetrack backstretches of North America . Stanley F. Bergstein, Executive Vice President, Harness Tracks of America and regular columnist for Daily Racing Form, New York (deceased)

A hidden treasure of poems and stories from another era of horse racing. A joy from cover to cover. Bill Heller, ThoroughbredStyle Magazine

William Galvin's collections of stories is a favorite for the critics and even the Queen of England has a special place on her bookshelf for this wonderfully illustrated book. Kentucky Monthly Magazine

If life were a horse race, then Bill Galvin has enjoyed a Triple Crown existence. Dave Winer, The Mississauga News

Galvin's poetic history brings the backstretch to life, its sights, smells, sounds and stories. The poems celebrate real events, real horses and real people, their dreams and particularly their partnership with their horses. The poems celebrate the tales that have passed into backstretch lore. And by the very nature of their rhythms, they give us a sense of the spirit that touches the entire racing community. Ronald C. Johnson, Assistant Professor of English (retired), University of British Columbia

Galvin has done in poetry what Jim Coleman did in prose: gathered the winners, losers, heroes and hopers of the shedrow for a loving look back at the horse racing world that was and thankfully, still is. Jim Taylor, Vancouver sports columnist for 25 years, sports biography author and Sports Media Canada Lifetime Achievement Award recipient

For those of us who pine for the daily articles on the lore of horse racing, or missed them during the romantic era of horse racing, they have been revived in magnificent detail in Ballads of the Turf. Racetrackers will enjoy reliving their earliest memories of what horse racing was all about. Louis Cauz, Historian and Archivist, Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame (retired) and author of The Plate: A Royal Tradition

William Galvin has captured the timeless essence of life on the racetrack in his collection of poetic vignettes. Bill Tallon, Canadian editor of the Daily Racing Form (retired)

Ballads of the Turf tells of the real-life stories of the Damon Runyonesque-type characters who lived in the tackrooms of our nation's backstretches and spent the better part of their lives caring for the needs of their four-legged pals. Jim Bannon, Thoroughbred racing analyst, handicapper and broadcaster par excellence

The backstretch is brought to life by Galvin’s poetry. There are many tales treasured by Thoroughbred handlers who are responsible for the daily care of these gallant four-legged wonders. The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, Saratoga, N.Y.

I would say that your ballads are real ballads both in subject and in form. The one difficult aspect of any ballad, because they are usually complex in subject, is the tendency to change the structure of the verse in the middle of the story. Several times, in fact. Even Robert Service does this. But, using Robert Service as the gold standard, and off the top of my head, I would give your verse a B+. It is very rhythmical, and continually interesting, and changes its structure in the middle only occassionally. But, overall, considering its subject and purpose, I would give it an A. Ronald C. Johnson, Assistant Professor of English, retired, University of British Columbia

William Galvin’s Ballads of the Turf was recently acquired by the Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays at Brown University, the famed Ivy League university in Providence Rhode, Island and the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto. The Mississauga Arts Council

If ever there was book that totally reflects the romantic era of Thoroughbred horse racing, it is Canadian racing’s best seller Ballads of the Turf and Other Doggerels. ChapterandVerse.ca, a showcase for Canadian Talent

A paperback charmer The Washington Thoroughbred

I greatly enjoyed Ballads of the Turf, which gives a window into the world of horse racing, with all its joys and sorrows, and a keen sense of what life was like for the horsemen in the 1940’s and ‘50’s”. The poems make a fine compliment to the accounts Jim Coleman wrote for the newspapers, and together preserve a vivid record of this hard but fascinating life. Andrew Taylor, Department of English, University of Ottawa.

Congratulations on the publication of your book, Ballads of the Turf, and its inclusion in the Mississauga Library System. The Mississauga Library System.

Puss n Boots DayA wonderful collection of racing history and a welcome addition to our equestrian library. It will be enjoyed by all. Lisa J. Hall, the Aiken Thoroughbred Hall of Fame and Museum, Aiken, S.C.

My gratitude to author Bill Galvin, a very accomplished man within the racing industry, and in his pursuits of fund raising for very notable causes. Gerry Philip, horseman.

I have just finished reading your Ballads of the Turf. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have often wished someone would write about the characters and stories I’ve long enjoyed here on the backside. Many of the people you wrote of, I have only heard about, but a few I have had the pleasure of meeting. Thanks, again. Tom Gostlin, Thoroughbred Trainer.

It could be a “poster” poem for racehorse rescue and re-homing. says the Washington Thoroughbred, of “The Giant Killer”, a touching story of the last days of a Thoroughbred race horse. The Giant Killer is featured in Ballads of the Turf.

Feature Stories (2006 – 2009)