Joe Drape, author of Black Maestro, The Epic Life of an American Legend, was named the winner of the first Castleton Lyons-Thoroughbred Times Book Award. The honor was bestowed in a ceremony at Castleton Lyons Thoroughbred Farm in Lexington, Ky., on April 14. Drape received a first-place prize of $10,000 plus a trophy. A panel of judges made up of recognized writers, authors, and editors selected the finalists that vied for the award, given to works published in 2006. Drape, a reporter for the New York Times, was presented the winning check by Tony Ryan, owner of Castleton Lyons.
Drape’s award-winning book, Black Maestro, published by Harper Collins, chronicled the life of Jimmy Winkfield, the last African-American jockey to win the Kentucky Derby. Through meticulous research and brilliant writing, Drape transports the reader back to early 20th century America, revealing the horrors of rampant racism and Jim Crow laws that sent a two-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey packing off to czarist Russia.
Ryan said, “The winning author, Joe Drape, wrote a cracking good book on the life of Jimmy Winkfield and is a great standard bearer as the first winner of this award. One of the reasons we created this award was to help promote the great sport of horse racing. By recognizing and honoring outstanding literature, I think this helps do that. We plan to immediately start work on the 2007 award and continue to sponsor this event in future years.”