“In crisp, elegant prose, Drape captures his subjects and their sport as they wind through a wildly eventful season of racing.” —Laura Hillenbrand, #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Seabiscuit
Rich in detail and crackling with wit, The Race for the Triple Crown is a personal narrative that captures the affecting stories of the Thoroughbred racing world. From ostentatious owners, to radiant unrivaled horses, to young trainers trying to make a name for themselves, everyone has a gripping story, and all are in search of the sport’s Holy Grail. How they get to and through the enormously famous races is a tale of action, high-stakes finance, and impossible odds. Told in the compelling voice of the award-winning New York Times sportswriter Joe Drape, The Race for the Triple Crown is a vivid portrait of a year in the life of the oldest, most majestic sport in the world.
“If you ever wondered how it is that horse racing grabs people and then never lets them go, you’ll find out when you read this book. I loved it!” —Jane Smiley, New York Times–bestselling author of Horse Heaven
“A first-rate and absorbing account by one who knows his material—a wonderful book that leads the field from starting gate to finish line. A delight for both aficionado and novice.” —George Plimpton
“[Drape] opens up a magical, mysterious world—and he does it with equal parts humor, affection and wisdom.” —Bill Minutaglio, The Dallas Morning News
Drape, a racing enthusiast and sportswriter for the New York Times, spells out the daunting odds of a horse making it to the Triple Crown: "Of the 35,078 registered thoroughbreds foaled in North America in 1997 the crop eligible for the Triple Crown in 2000... only 19 in the starting gate at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby. That's 0.005 percent for the entire crop of foals." In this breezy, yet informative look at the highest level of horse racing, the author traces the lives of a handful of preeminent horse owners, trainers and jockeys in their preparations for the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont. Drape bases his narrative on the colorful coterie attracted to serious racing, from the chic trainer D. Wayne Lukas and his $3,000 suits to Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum and his private Emirates Airlines Boeing 747, on which he routinely travels to high-stakes horse auctions to bid millions of dollars on a single colt. Describing how the trainers must come up through the ranks to prove themselves before they begin attracting owners with deep pockets, Drape highlights the sport's grittier side, while simultaneously developing the characters whose horses and egos eventually clash in Louisville, Ky., on the first Saturday in May. Readers unfamiliar with the exclusive world of horse racing will especially enjoy Drape's skill at building drama and shifting focus among the major players to keep the story fresh. Disappointingly, however, he never ventures behind the scenes of the trainer's job to explain how these elite animals are turned into racing giants (for these details, readers should pick up Laura Hillenbrand's recent Seabiscuit). Nevertheless, Drape's zeal for his subject and his comprehensive knowledge provide a gratifying read.