I believe that people like Joe Drape are in many ways more dangerous (to horses, that is) than the Bob Bafferts of the world. Drape is an unabashed racing fan who also happens to be an accomplished journalist covering racing for a major mainstream publication – in fact, the major mainstream publication, The New York Times. He, and by extension his paper, lends respectability to horseracing. What’s more, by being a regular critic of an industry that he in no way wishes to see end, he conveys to the masses that all that’s needed is a bit of tidying up – that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with exploiting, abusing, and killing horses for gambling.
Of course, with the recent kill cluster at Churchill Downs – 10 deaths in 24 days – being covered by virtually every outlet in the nation, Drape has been forced to weigh in. One of his more reprehensible pieces was “At Churchill Downs, Humans Failed the Horses Again” (5/7), in which he wrote, “animal rights advocates want to know who is responsible.” Uh, no we don’t, Joe. That was settled a long time ago.
But Drape’s latest, “Requiem for the 7 Dead Horses of Kentucky Derby Week,” plunges to new depths. In it, he goes horse by horse, offering mini obituaries because, he says, no one else was doing it. An example, from his “requiem” for “Snowball” (aka Freezing Point): “Within an hour, [they, the exploiters] were saying tearful goodbyes to him. After the colt was euthanized, the vet passed on a locket of hair from his mane as a talisman.”
Yes, Drape had to say something about these deaths. Meanwhile, he utterly ignores the thousands of other documented (by HW) kills of his beloved “sport.” And make no mistake, he knows all about them. But they – those other poor, beautiful victims – don’t fit his narrative. It’s disgraceful. And that goes double for “The Newspaper of Record,” which allows Drape’s vile fluff to be its official word on a deadly serious matter.