Education: Attended Southern Methodist University.
Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, GA, former national desk reporter; New York Times, New York, NY, sportswriter.
Media Eclipse Award, from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, awarded for outstanding achievement in horse racing writing, 2002.
In the Hornets' Nest: Charlotte and Its First Year in the NBA, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1989.
The Race for the Triple Crown: Horses, High Stakes, and Eternal Hope, Atlantic Monthly Press (New York, NY), 2001.
Black Maestro: The Epic Life of an American Legend, Morrow (New York, NY), 2006.
Joe Drape is a sportswriter whose endeavors include coverage of professional basketball teams and key horse-racing events. His first book, In the Hornets' Nest: Charlotte and Its First Year in the NBA, recounts the exploits of the Charlotte Hornets during the team's initial season in the National Basketball Association. Wes Lukowsky, writing in Booklist, affirmed that Drape "writes with insight and compassion," and Barry Miller, in his Library Journal assessment, noted that Drape provides "some telling individual portraits" and evidence of "shrewd marketing strategies."
Drape followed In the Hornets' Nest with The Race for the Triple Crown: Horses, High Stakes, and Eternal Hope, an account of the individuals and events related to horse racing in the United States. In the Washington Post Online, Drape called his book "a labor of love … written as much from a horse player's point of view as well as a journalist." Patsy E. Gray, wrote in Library Journal of Drape's "romantic view of racing"; and a Publishers Weekly critic noted Drape's "zeal for his subject," adding that The Race for the Triple Crown proves "a gratifying read." Still another critic, Jillian Dunham, concluded in the New York Times Book Review that Drape "writes poignantly of his personal ties to racing."
Drape's next effort, Black Maestro: The Epic Life of an American Legend, follows the life and career of Jimmy Winkfield, who was the last African American jockey to win the Kentucky Derby as of the book's writing. A native of Kentucky and one of seventeen children, Winkfield won the Derby in both 1901 and 1902, then moved to Russia, largely to escape the extreme racial discrimination that he faced in the United States. Winkfield continued to work as a jockey in Russia, as well as in Poland and Austria, and was nicknamed the "Black Maestro." He eventually married a Russian aristocrat, and the couple fled the country at the start of the Russian Revolution. They settled in France until World War II, when the Nazis forced Winkfield to return to the United States, where he found work in South Carolina as a stable boy. Eventually Winkfield returned to France where his son owned a stable. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews praised Drape's writing, but expressed regret that he was unable to delve deeper into Winkfield's life, calling the book "an amazing story and an absorbing read for racing buffs, but those interested in the psychology of this singular athlete will be disappointed." In contrast, Sports Illustrated writer Charles Hirshberg remarked: "Drape's writing is not artful, but little art is necessary when a saga is as well researched and riveting as this one." Bill Barich, in a review for the New York Times Book Review Online, wrote: "Drape's narrative gallops along at a sprightly pace. Black Maestro reminds us how important black riders were in those early days, a fact that's often overlooked or forgotten."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Advertising Age, April 23, 2001, James Brady, "Brady's Bunch," p. 27.
Booklist, November 1, 1989, Wes Lukowsky, review of In the Hornets' Nest: Charlotte and Its First Year in the NBA, p. 516; March 1, 2001, Dennis Dodge, review of The Race for the Triple Crown: Horses, High Stakes, and Eternal Hope, p. 1217.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2006, review of Black Maestro: The Epic Life of an American Legend, p. 272.
Library Journal, November 1, 1989, Barry Miller, review of In the Hornets' Nest, p. 95; April 15, 2001, Patsy E. Gray, review of The Race for the Triple Crown, p. 104.
New York Times Book Review, May 20, 2001, Jillian Dunham, review of The Race for the Triple Crown, p. 38.
Publishers Weekly, March 19, 2001, review of The Race for the Triple Crown, p. 83.
Sports Illustrated, June 26, 2006, Charles Hirshberg, "Pilloried at the Post" review of Black Maestro, p. Z7.
New York Times Book Review Online,http://www.nytimes.com/ (June 4, 2006), Bill Barich, "Horse and Rider" review of Black Maestro.
Washington Post Online,http://discuss.washingtonpost.com/ (April 10, 2001), "Horse Racing."