Luck of the Draw

Luck of the Draw cover;

A middle grade novel for ages 8-12+, Luck of the Draw is told by Lucky, one of the slowest racehorses the world has ever known. Even though Lucky gives racing his all, he never manages to win a race, and soon finds himself working as a jumper and dressage horse. No matter how hard he tries, Lucky seems to fail at all disciplines. Despite his lack of success, Lucky remains upbeat and hopeful. He is determined to find his life's purpose, and eventually learns that succeeding in life doesn't always involve winning trophies and ribbons.

A portion of the proceeds from Luck of the Draw benefit ReRun, a national non-profit rescue for Thoroughbred ex-racehorses. Cover art by Debbie Lund. (ISBN: 1-4392-0363-6)

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Honorable Mention: Middle Grade Fiction

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Story Monsters Approved! Middle Grade Fiction Book

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2021 EQUUS Film & Arts Fest Honorable Mention (overall literary)

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"When I was a foal, my mother would sometimes ask me to jump a tree stump in the field. She said it would help me to develop agility for racing. I could never clear the stump. I would charge at it and either trip or jump and knock my back legs. Even with this fresh in my mind, I wanted to put my heart into something and succeed...

...I'm not sure how I did it, but I flew right to the lead and held on as we passed the first turn. I could hear two horses, one on each side, start to creep up on me, but I just couldn't let them beat me. Even though Cal tightened his reins and asked me to slow down, I took off, gaining at least three lengths on the other horses. We made what would be the final turn for home and I was still leading the pack!

Suddenly, Storm Cloud, the black horse, came surging up on the outside. I dug in and held on as best I could, but he overtook me. If I couldn't have first, I would at least have second, I thought, as we approached the wire. Without warning, Runaway Sable, a bright bay, charged up from the inside for second. Third, I would still have third! But despite digging in as best as I could, I tired, and a gray horse, Sullivan’s Journey, overtook me for third by a nose.

I looked up and saw people sitting in the stands looking down at the track, but I didn’t see one of them looking at me. Still, Cal pulled me up and proceeded to pat me like I had just won the race.

'It's okay, Lucky!' shouted Cal. 'You did great, you've just gotta listen to me next time and not move so soon. We still beat one of those nags, right?'"


"We cannot all be Michael Phelps. For some of us, no matter how high we dream, no matter how hard we try, our fate is not to win gold medals, trophies, or ribbons. This encouraging story will inspire the young person who will not be a future Michael Phelps that their happiness depends on the way they embrace life, on the positive attitude they give to every circumstance. I fell in love with Luck of the Draw."

D.B. Pacini, California-based songwriter/vocalist, poet, and author of short stories and two novels, The Loose End of the Rainbow and Emma's Love Letters.

"Bought this book as a gift and am very glad I did. It was a great read and will be passed on for more to enjoy."

—John Waterman, US

"Lucky, or Luck of the Draw, had some pretty bad luck. This is a wonderful story for children and adults. I hate spoiler reviews, so all I will say is it will not disappoint you and yours!"

—Gloria Picchetti, Chicago, Illinois

"Luck of the Draw by Diana Tuorto reminds readers that every living creature has a purpose, although sometimes it’s difficult to find that purpose. Luck of the Draw, or Lucky as everyone called him, was bred, born, and raised to be a racehorse. The only problem was that Lucky was undoubtedly the slowest racehorse in the world. He never won a race. Sold and trained in jumping and dressage, he discovered something else he didn’t do very well. Then he met Kerry, who had to face her fears after a serious riding accident that took the life of her special horse. Not only did Lucky have to prove himself as a hunter pace horse, but he also had to help Kerry recover her nerve and restore her passion for riding – and, yes, for winning. Diana Tuorto’s young people’s novel, Luck of the Draw, is a classic horse story that will bring tears to readers’ eyes. Lucky is anything but lucky, at least, until the end of the story. Told in first person narrative, from Lucky’s point of view, this story has the classic feel of a good horse story, like Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty. The mother-son communication between Lucky and his mother is as compassionate and compelling as it had been for Black Beauty, and the important lessons imparted to the young foal can be transcribed to any young person: always be caring and do your best at all times, no matter what obstacles bar your path. As for a purpose? This kind-hearted racehorse that couldn't win a race attracted considerable love and attention both from other horses and his different handlers, too. The story is a touching and engaging read."

—Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite

"Luck of the Draw is narrated by Lucky himself. Born with the possibility of becoming a racehorse—albeit the off-spring of 'the two worst racehorses to ever escape the slaughterhouse'—Lucky kicks[!] off his story by summing up his racing career in one word: pathetic. Soon after leaving his mother, Lucky’s natural enthusiasm is reined in by sobering realities. He learns that a racehorse can stumble on the track and suffer an injury that leads to tragedy. Despite his willing eagerness, he learns that 'giving his all' isn't always good enough to secure a niche in racing circles. At each hurdle Lucky encounters, he does his best, he gives his all, yet oftentimes, although he never falters, he fails to clear the top rail, literally and figuratively. In the face of increasing frustration, Lucky wants to be 'good at something.' Don't we all? Diana Tuorto has anthropomorphized Lucky, allowing him to tell his own story and permitting him to reveal his personality in a style that will be appealing to young readers. After losing a race and watching the champion horse being led into the winner’s circle, Lucky confesses to being 'completely embarrassed.' Certain twelve year-old readers, no doubt, will be able to identify with Lucky’s emotion. In another instance, Lucky feels 'disappointed' in himself when he is unable to express comfort to the trainer he believes he has failed. Tuorto’s narrative method is designed to translate the adventures of a young horse into a learning experience for readers. Dare I say that Luck of the Draw is designed to teach universal truths as well as spin a yarn in the tradition of Black Beauty? Yes, I dare. For readers unfamiliar with the world of Thoroughbreds, Luck of the Draw is informative. For instance, I am a novice to the horse ring. After reading this novel I now know what these words mean: crossties, lunge, and dressage. Read this book. Find out if Lucky discovers his life’s purpose. See if he is satisfied that 'the best thing for the inside of a horse is the outside of a barn.'"

—Harold N. Walters, on behalf of Armchair Interviews

"Luck of the Draw touched my heart and inspired me to continue to have hope in the face of the hardships that these horses go through. Often, one can get so down about the racing industry because so many horses go to a horrible life of auction and then slaughter. Your book emphasized that there can be caring individuals with big hearts that help these horses get a new career. Thank you, Diana, for helping us see a horse’s point of view. You also have a beautiful style to help teach many individuals who may not know much about horses, but want to learn about different disciplines and opportunities that are available to these animals. Most of all, thank you for spreading the message that it isn’t just about the ribbons or what some people define as "successful.” It's about finding your heart and finding the inner peace and beauty to bond with a stunning animal that gives both the person and the horse a second chance."

—Margaret DeAngelis, New Hope, Pennsylvania

"Luck of the Draw by Diana Tuorto is a fantastic book and a must-read for all horse lovers, no matter what age you are. The book is written from the horse's point of view, which I loved very much. Lucky's life lesson is something that we can all apply to our own lives. Everyone is good at something; you just have to take the time to find out what that is. I highly recommend this book to everyone, especially young horse lovers."

—Melody Wolfe, Castile, New York

""Have you ever entered a race and come in close to last place? Lucky is not very lucky when it comes to racing. His mother only raced in one race in her career. Surely there is a way he can be useful, but not in racing. Jumping high scares him. He tries to be successful, but it does not work out for him. He finally finds what he has been searching for - like a wish come true! What he finds is more than just a gold trophy and honor. This is a book all horse lovers would really enjoy, even if your only exposure is the Kentucky Derby or just watching horses when you get a chance. You will find yourself hoping Lucky will be on top of the horse world. I really love and enjoyed this book because I like horses. I went to Kentucky on a vacation and remembered some of locations mentioned in this book. Luck of the Draw by Diana Tuorto is sure to be in the Winners Circle of Books of 2008!"

—Brianne Plach, age 11, on behalf of Reader Views Kids

"Luck of the Draw is a book about a plucky horse who never gives up on his belief in himself and in the goodness of humans. He heals his own dilemma by helping another; a girl who suffered a bad fall in which her beloved horse and her courage were lost. Lucky's steadiness and understanding help her to get "back to herself" again. Nothing preachy here- just a warm and tender story."

—Esther M. Leiper, Poet Laureate, White Mountains Region, Jefferson, New Hampshire

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