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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The "Truth" According to Joe Drape

Undefeated Gotham winner Vyjack showed some unusual versatility coming from far off the pace after being near or on it in his first three races; including his game front-running win in the Jerome (which I still can't accept being run at Aqueduct in January).  And it's not like he was taken back behind a lightning pace.  The pace was in fact on the slow side compared to other races on the day, going 24 and 48 3/5 to the half.  So it was a lively third quarter of 24 flat into which Vyjack commenced his move, and he sustained it well despite being five wide.  When he changed leads mid-stretch, he re-broke and closed with a nice rush.  Nice looking colt.

Pedigree-wise, Vyjack shows some mixed signals in his female family.  By Into Mischief (Harlan's Holiday), he's out of a Stravinsky mare who's a half-sister to the crack Maryland sprinter Disco Rico.  His third dam, Capp It Off, was also a stakes-winning sprinter; and a look further down the pedigree shows names like the sprint champ Smoke Glacken and BC Sprint runner-up Crown of Thorns (the horse, not this rock band, who followed me on Twitter after I posted this tidbit there.)  On the other hand, he's a half to route winner Prime Cut, and his second dam is a half to Miss Slewpy, who won the Ladies Handicap at 10 furlongs.

Now, here I was gonna go off on one of those 'the Derby ain't what it used to be' rants and argue that pedigree isn't really all that important anymore when it comes to picking the winner, and so on and so forth.  But I'm as sick of writing that stuff as I am of reading about the Derby months before the fact, so nevermind.   However, I was looking for past Derby results charts, so naturally visited Churchill Downs' official Kentucky Derby website, and went to the history section.

There, I was surprised (or not so much) by what I did (and didn't find).  For one thing, somebody there has apparently forgotten to post links to the results charts 'powered by brisnet' (the website that the company purchased and neglected) for the past two years.  And, if you search the years before 2009, all you get is a replay (which I can find on You Tube) and the chart comment.  That's it.  I's the vaunted Kentucky Derby and the official vaunted Kentucky Derby site.  One might think that they would put just a little effort into it.  Especially for some of the more storied winners from the past; even Secretariat gets the same lame treatment.  That's just weak.  But, then again, Churchill Downs, as a public company focused on its bottom line, has priorities other than racing nowadays.

That matter of how much Churchill cares about racing was a topic of debate and discussion on a Twitter conversation I stumbled upon yesterday between a Churchill employee and our buddy Joe Drape.  And I was surprised (or not so much) to read this tweet by our favorite Times reporter. 

  They are a gaming company now and no longer a racetrack company. Sport on last legs & CD knows it best of all.
  To which I couldn't help but reply:
  .@joedrape Right on re: CD and we all appreciate yours and the NYT's efforts to ensure the sport is on its last legs
  To which he replied, in his usual pithy manner: 
  the truth hurts
  And I'm thinking...the truth??  What truth is that, exactly?  That the Times is trying to kill the sport?  Because there's not a grain of truth in the statement that horse racing is on its last legs.  You can surely argue that the sport is not thriving; that it faces tremendous challenges, and that the industry is not doing enough to meet those challenges, nor to help it grow.  But on its last legs?  Dog racing is on its last legs.  Jai-alai is on its last legs.  Seth MacFarlane is on his last legs as an Oscar host.  Individual tracks may be on their last legs as a live spectator venue.  But horse racing as a whole?  I don't see how any objective person can say that it is on its last legs.  Handle is holding steady as race days decline.   And seriously, can you really spend a day at Saratoga or Del Mar or Keeneland or Oaklawn or Churchill....or even, yes, Aqueduct in the dead of winter with its ground floor packed with refugees from OTB....and tell me this game is on its death bed?

And I find it more than just a little disturbing that the lead racing writer for the New York Times would write that; especially in light of his role in the paper's efforts to drive the sport to the sorry state which he seems to crave.  (Don't really know why he does; seems to me that he'd be standing on the unemployment line with everyone else.)  To me, it's rather telling and casts a bright and unflattering light on the thinking going on at the Paper of Record when they publish those stories which so distort and twist the truth to fit that very agenda.  And I think that those people who defend the reporting should think about that the next time they see Death and Disarray at America's Racetracks on the NY Times' front page.


Anonymous said...

Beautifully said Alan...

I know when I go to GULFSTREAM, its packed, nice people, new people, old people, beautiful place to go, Last Florida Derby day, they had to close off all of the parking lots, and if anyone has ever been there you know how big the parking lots are.. When we walked in, after parking close to a mile away, you could not even get to a machine, or teller to place a bet, it was completely packed, Horse Racing is def. not dead...If other tracks had a plan, cared about the player, the game, it could thrive again, its a beatiful game, beautiful sport....

jk said...

If you want to see an example of an organization/industry on its last legs, look at a 10 year chart of the NY Times stock price.

Figless said...

jk...GREAT retort..Alan should tweet THAT!

Has Drape written an article praising the positive results of the safety initiative this winter, (don't want to jinx this but the point is important)?

Doesn't fit his agenda, hmmmmm.

He goes on Francesca's show and claims he LOVES the sport, sorry, not buying it. The Times hates gambling in any form and any legalization of casinos in NY State will need to overcome that hurdle, hopefully they are as aggressive in their opposition of the coming initiative as they are in trashing racing.

Anonymous said...

Belmont tack room 4 days ago, conversation between 2 trainers: "this game is dead".
It's funny the chasm between gamblers and horsemen re: the same subject.

Anonymous said...

I really liked your article! Vyjack is actually a gelding. His coltish behavior was interfering with his training so his connections decided to go ahead with the procedure.

steve in nc said...

Racing has always been a dead-end disrespected beat at the Times.

The only Times racing correspondent I remember who actually cared about and understood the sport was Steve Crist, and everyone who cared about him at the Times tried to dissuade him from taking and keeping that beat.

Harvey Pack once told me that Times racing correspondent Joe Durso, who came after Crist, actually hated the sport. I don't know if Pack had heard Durso say that or if he was responding to the total lack of passion or enthusiasm in Durso's articles.

Drape has passion but acts like he's covering organized crime. That tweet of his moves me past giving him props for helping expose some of racing's ills.

If he thinks racing is on its last legs, he doesn't understand the basics of the sport in the age of internet betting and watching.

Of course there's shrinkage - there are so many bad races and race meets still needing to be culled, which could explain the comments from trainers anon 11:59 quoted.

Modern technology means that racing, like most businesses, can get by with fewer workers, whether with two legs or four (or five, before surgery ended Vyjack's studdish ways).

But I believe we're likely to see the end of the American newspaper before we see the end of horse racing.

Anonymous said...

To me,it's rather telling and casts a bright and unflattering light on the thinking going on at the Paper of Record when they publish those stories which so distort and twist the truth to fit that very agenda."

Great stuff!I'm starting to like you Alan:),you finally get It!Now take it out of the horseracing department and spread it throughout the whole paper if you still read It."

My guess is that Mr. Drape will be in the unemployment line soon enough.

I know that Horseracing can use some quality leadership but what about the NY Times?

They purchased the Boston Globe in 1993 for $1.1 billion and paid $296million for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette in 2000.Hahaha!

Both are for sale again.It looks like they'll get $100 million for the Globe(basically what the land is worth in Boston)Same thing with the T&G,10 million for land.

Funny stuff Mr. Drape!

SaratogaSpa said...

Let's assume that more NY Times writers than not distort the "truth" like Drape does. What are we than to think about the "paper of record"?

kyle said...

Drape attackes the game because he has an inferiority complex. Anyone who has listened to him knows he has the handicapping chops of an 11 year-old girl. He tries to tear the game down because he's incapable of understanding or mastering it.

Kellsboro Jack said...

It really shouldn't be surprising that Joe Drape yet again has disparaging remarks against racing.

He hasn't had a positive article that doesn't at least have a few sharp elbows against the sport, business, and essentially fans too.

While LA Times sports columnist T.J. Simers was clear that he and racing were done being friends Drape continues to act as if supports racing. Et tu, brute?

Anonymous said...
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August Song said...

I suspect New York thoroughbred racing has begun a reversal, and will be thriving again in two more years. It will be in a lot better shape than the NY Times, or a narcissistic, sensationalistic newspaper hack like Joe Drape. Maybe, he'll end up at the National Enquirer? That would be very fitting.

Anonymous said...

Janes Addiction, Mountain Song

Anonymous said...

Jane's Addiction. Mountain Song

Anonymous said...

How many legs, or should I say how few legs is the NYT standing on these days. Desperate times call for desperate measures and the NYT doesn't just print "all the news that fit to print" anymore, it's becoming just another supermarket tabloid just like the rest

ballyfager said...

By responding to him you give him more credibility than he deserves. Nobody with a three digit IQ pays any attention to the NY Times.

How many racing people, or horseplayers, ever even heard of Joe Drape...or would give the slighest damn about anything he has to say?

Sulzberger himself is the very epitome of mediocrity. Until they get rid of him, it's the NY Times that is on its last legs.