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NY Times Documentary

I have not watched it yet.


I haven’t watched it either but my first thought is “Times?, Horse racing? Must be Derby time…”


Racing writer Bill Finley noted that it’s mostly a rehashing of previous “special reports”, though he made sure to say that the message is still an important one.

I haven’t seen it, don’t plan on it any time soon.

Surprising that anyone in racing gives Joe Drape the time of day.


Forgive me if this seems a stupid question: what makes you say that? Is it the Times generally or Drape himself?

I watched the doc, have racing industry dependent family, and I didn’t hear Drape say anything objectionable or untrue.

The point filmmakers offer about better, more horse-centric race oversight in Ireland, the UK, Australia, and Hong Kong can be born out by comparing horses’ ages, race, and career lengths there and here.

Is our HISA problematic or corrupt already?

While I’m not asking for a roasting, I would like to know if I’ve missed something obvious about the film’s thesis or methods.

Response by the Paulick Report


To answer the question about Drape, I can only state my impressions–The Joe Drape I recall from decades ago was very willing to bathe himself in the glory of the sport when that was the mindset of his editors. When the NYT started hating on the sport, Joe was more than willing to help them with a bunch of pieces that I thought were unfair and sensationalistic.

The last thing a journalist should aspire to is being unfair and sensationalistic but there you are.


He certainly grabbed for his share of American Pharoah’s glory, rushing headlong to get the biography with his byline on it into print.

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From your link:
The Times also sadly buried its interview with Arthur Hancock III, a fourth-generation breeder who along with his wife Staci Hancock, were instrumental in pushing for the passage of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act. “There is a new sheriff in town, and he means business,” Arthur Hancock said of HISA. “If we don’t get rid of the drugs and thugs, they’re going to get rid of us.

Thanks for the link, but this seems an odd observation.

While, as I’ve admitted, I’ve apparently missed lots of the Times’ coverage of horse racing – not sure why as I’m a subscriber and TB owner/rider – this statement is simply untrue if we consider the Times’ documentary as part of their coverage. Hancock is one of the heroes of the film and is front and center at every possible horse-centric turn.

Neither I nor my BFF, a former exercise rider, once married to a TB breeder, had clocked HISA’s formation, nor the full scope of the FBI’s case that prompted its formation. I may be oblivious, but she still stays up with the TB world.

I’m grateful to the doc for bringing that all to the front for us, and I’ll pay closer attention from here on, for sure.

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Being first definitely matters to reporters.

Are there any reporters writing about US TB racing for national outlets whom you would recommend?

Unfortunately Bill Nack passed away a few years ago. Offhand I cannot think of anyone outside of industry publications.

The sports media is definitely more focused on the negative, when they can be bothered to write about racing at all. Even the two most recent Triple Crown wins only got a few column inches.

As a kid I collected every article in our local (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) about Seattle Slew and then Affirmed. Both horses got front page billing plus about 1/3 of the Sports section dedicated to their accomplishments. I was too young to have followed Secretariat, but I’m sure he got the same treatment.

What was odd about Drape’s authorship of the American Pharoah book was that it came hot on the heels of several negative articles.

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Also from my link:

Then, after the race, and a near-flawless week of racing at Churchill Downs, the Times posted what one friend called “another bullshit piece” by Joe Drape titled “How Humans Failed Racehorses,” which failed to mention how humans did not fail horses last week. The Sunday piece was a particularly lazy rehash of the pre-race criticism of the industry without providing readers with context and perspective about the ways in which federal racing officials, and the folks at Churchill Downs, worked since the 2023 Kentucky Derby to better protect the horses in their case. By Sunday morning, the story was “no breakdowns at Churchill.” The Times missed it.

And that’s a problem for the “paper of record”. It’s misleading its readers.


Pat Forde is pretty good or at least he’s fair.

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