With one Tweet, he became a social media superstar not for what he did but for what he didn’t do. Cyrus, a yearling Thoroughbred colt, is probably familiar to many of you. His antics were well published. #RollCyrusRoll!
Out of the many photos and videos posted by Chris Brown of Cyrus’ failed attempts to do what all horses do after a bath—get dirty again in the sandpit—a wonderful story emerged. And thousands began to follow that story on a daily basis.
As Chris, wife Katie, Alice Pierce, manager of the farm where Cyrus resided with filly best pal, filly Poe, observed both Cyrus’ dilemma and the antics between the two foals sired by Hopportunity, they all wanted to share the story with more followers and fans.
Chris had an idea. Well, he was given a “hint” for an idea on social media. A book. But not just any book. A beautiful children’s book full of colorful illustrations telling of Cyrus’ adventures on the farm as seen through the eyes of a young horse.
With a story by Brown and written by Designated Hitters, the racing partnership Chris and Katie are involved with, Brown enlisted the artistic skills of college friend, illustrator Ben Fidler. The book: “Roll Cyrus Roll: The Adventures of Cyrus the Colt.” Included are his antics with filly friend Poe #GoPoeGo and other farm pals.
A young reader enjoying “Roll Cyrus Roll”. (Photo Trish/Twitter)
Fidler brilliantly captured the personalities of both Cyrus and Poe in arch and attitude in his beautifully rendered illustrations while Designated Hitters wove Brown’s story artfully into the text. The book is a wonderful journey introducing a child, or even an adult, to the wonderful world of horses.
What they produced is magical journey of youth and horses for readers of all ages to enjoy. The book is a large format soft-cover book with 22 pages of large print and stunning full color illustrations.
Photo Stephanie Justified/Twitter
A bonus to the story is Cyrus’ friendship with a little red cardinal named Fred. One day, Cyrus was out in the field when Fred landed on him. Seriously, a cardinal landed on Cyrus. For real. We have photos. In the book, Cyrus and Fred became fast friends and have many adventures together.
Announced for sale on Amazon just March 1, the book has already sold out of its first printing by Designated Hitters Press. It has received numerous five start reviews and many accolades on Twitter. Listed for $19.99 now with free Prime shipping, the book is noted for children ages 4-10. But this book is really for horse-lovers of all ages.
Show off your love for Cyrus, the horse that captured hearts around the world as #RollCyrusRoll became an obsession for horse lovers everywhere! To order from Old Smoke Clothing Co. click here. A portion of book proceeds will go to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. The TRF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to saving Thoroughbred horses no longer able to compete on the racetrack. #RollCyrusRoll
To order your book today click here. The second printing will be in stock April 24 so pre-order your copy now!
What people are saying about “Roll Cyrus Roll: The Adventures of Cyrus the Colt”
I loved it! I like how Cyrus found his own way to do things. It was encouraging that he didn’t have to do things the way all the other horses did. — Luis, age 7, Arnold, Md.
I liked it, especially the part when the horses got sprayed with water and then got dirty again. — Oliver, age 5, Arnold, Md.
Photo Jennifer Kelly/Twitter
Two ears up for Roll Cyrus Roll being back in stock at Amazon! Grab your little foal this wonderful story of a colt doing things his own way. A must-read for all horse lovers & the young ones in their lives! — Little Sir Barton and Jennifer Kelly, Author, Sir Barton and the Making of the Triple Crown
ROLL CYRUS ROLL! Just finished reading it with my niece and honestly it’s a great great book. Lots of lessons to be learned! It’s ok to be different! — LNJFoxwoods
Photo Ann Bastin/Twitter
Taking the opportunity to showcase a phenomenal book, Roll Cyrus Roll — it’s really a good/fun read for anyone! And better, a portion of the proceeds benefit the Thoroughbred Retirement Fund. Happy birthday to ME!, — Ann Bastin, Rockfield Farm, Greenwood, Ind.
It’s a great read and should be in all schools. — Les England, McDonough Ga.
Harlow reading her new favorite book. Can you guess what it is? She is mesmerized! She is rolling along with her new friend! Hint! — Harlow and Anne, Saratoga, N.Y.
You Guys Did an Amazing Job with this Book! Can’t wait for the sequel…. WIN CYRUS WIN… which is what we will all be shouting. Thanks so much for sharing Cyrus and Poe during Covid! — Stephanie Justified, Atlanta, Ga.
Kelsie ’15, Texas/Twitter
We had story time today, featuring #GoPoeGo and #RollCyrusRoll! Both horses enjoyed it. And Honey—a descendant of a Triple Crown winner herself—hopes they BOTH grow into speedy racehorses one day! — Kelsie ’15, Texas/Twitter
Hey @nytimes Children’s Books. When are you going to review “Roll Cyrus Roll: The Adventures of Cyrus the Colt”? It’s the perfect children’s book with great illustrations, a moral, and proceeds of its sale going to a great cause. #RollCyrusRoll #NYTimes — Howard H. New York
Photo Rickelle Nelson/Twitter
Look who made it to Churchill Downs in time for the Kentucky Derby! Chris Brown and Katie Brown! It’s amazing! A portion of the proceeds goes to Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation so Win Win! Thanks for the help Evin Munson! — Rickelle Nelson, Louisville, Kentucky
“When I opened the book I saw it with the eyes of a five-year-old and was taken back to when I fell in love with horses gazing at my first book, “The Big Book of Horses.” Every page was a joy to view and read. Kids of all ages will fall in love with horses, too, reading this story!” – Maribeth Kalinich, Editor, Past The Wire
Cyrus gives his own five star review.
To learn more about Designated Hitters or to inquire about a partnership click here.
Follow the continuing story of Cyrus and Poe on Chris Brown’s Twitter page. Watch them as they go into their racehorse training. The video that started it all! #RollCyrusRoll
A chat with Chris Brown: Inspiration, aspiration, ambassadors and what’s next
Q: When did you have inspiration for the book?
Brown: The inspiration to write a book truly came from Cyrus’ fans. It seemed every single week there would be a comment “this would make a great children’s book”. At first you just laugh, but then after seeing it over and over again from fans it became “Why not try it?”. Dan Heim, a friend and racehorse owner for Designated Hitters Racing, LLC had writing a book on his bucket list so we just went for it.
Dan really helped shape the direction of the book. Once we realized we had a good story, it went from a joke to a much more serious endeavor. We spent months rewriting and polishing the story, editing, etc.
We self published, and I am even shipping out of my own house. We probably bit off more than we can chew, but that’s kind of our personality. We like to win and be challenged. You really can’t own racehorses without that mentality.
Q: When did you bring Ben onboard? Did he come out and watch the foals for a while to get an idea of their personalities? Or just refer to video and photos?
Brown: Dan and I knew from the start illustrations were going to be as important, if not more important than the story. People know Cyrus, they have expectations. If there is no ear floof, there is no Cyrus.
Going to Ben was a no brainer for me, we were actually roommates at Gettysburg College for 2 years. I knew Ben had illustrated a few books, I knew his talent, I also am close enough friends that I could give him honest and direct feedback.
Ben watched videos, I sent him pictures, and he immediately understood what we were going for.
I believe this book is truly Ben’s best work. He went above and beyond, and the details are everything we hoped for.
Q: How do you, Katie, Alice, feel about Cyrus and Poe being ambassadors for horses? Bringing fans closer to how horse’s lives begin, bringing in young fans and new fans?
Brown: While there’s no doubt in my mind Cyrus and Poe are ambassadors for racing, I still don’t think the industry as a whole gets it. We’re trying our best, but at the end of the day it doesn’t seem like the people at the top care much about fans anymore.
Cyrus and Poe receive more interaction than almost anything racing related, yet I never hear from anyone involved in racing to help promote the game, despite me reaching out multiple times.
We’re just going to keep having fun and doing our thing, but at the end of the day racing can only have ambassadors if they want ambassadors. If their vision for the future is relying on ADW’s instead of the racetrack and horse experience, I can’t control that and I fear it will be the end.
Ultimately owners want to win in front of fans, that’s why everyone dreams to run at Saratoga.
We’re at a crossroads, thousands fewer mares were bred last year because of Covid. Owners are leaving the game. Without a set of fresh thinking soon.
Q: Do you see a sequel? Cyrus and Poe in training? On the track?
Brown: Yes, this is certainly in the queue. I personally don’t have the time for it right now, but I know if Dan and Ben continue to put pressure we will have a sequel. Poe was a minor character in Roll Cyrus Roll….so it would only seem appropriate to have “Go Poe Go” next in line. She definitely has her own fanbase!
Q: Do you see more merchandising for these ambassadors? (I do!)
Brown: Writing a book was never, ever about making money. I honestly have no idea how anyone makes money writing unless you have a best seller. We wrote the book because fans asked, and we thought it might be fun. I think we actually caught ourselves off guard when we realized we wrote something good with a nice message.
We’re giving some of the proceeds to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, again because that was important to us.
The T-Shirt popped up because fans asked and Old Smoke Clothing Co. jumped in to help. So I guess that’s a long winded way of saying….I would expect merchandise to be organic.
If the industry wants to actually help us promote, then it’s far more likely! If we continue to have to do everything on our own…I wouldn’t expect quite as much progress!
By Maribeth Kalinich, Editor