By Karen Valby
March 16, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

And she’s…slow out of the gate! Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit, an account of the racehorse who lifted American spirits during the Depression, gimps along for its first hundred pages, saddled by loosely connected anecdotes and confused scene-setting. But the author, who’s written about thoroughbred racing for over a decade, recovers when she focuses on the unlikely champion with ”baseball glove” knees, the half-blind jockey who rode him to glory, and the stoic trainer who called the horse ”son.” The stirring depiction of Seabiscuit’s 1938 triumph over War Admiral, a victory shared with 40 million Americans via radio, could convince the most tightfisted of readers to make a trip to the track.