Grand Theft Horse

By The Horn Book Magazine

On Christmas Eve 2004, Gail Ruffu tiptoed into the Hollywood Park Racetrack with one goal in mind: to horse-nap Urgent Envoy, an injured thoroughbred. It’s a whiz-bang attention-grabber of a start to Neri’s comics=format ‘second-hand memoir’ about his cousin. The former trainer and twenty-percent owner of Urgent Envoy had recently learned that her co-owners planned to race the horse even though he was still recuperating from a fractured leg. So, for Ruffu, her Christmas Eve escapade was a rescue mission. Neri details all the events leading up to the fateful evening, as well as the drawn-out legal battles that followed. Wilkin’s expressive and dynamic ink panels, in brown and white, bring an immediacy to the emotional and financial turmoil Ruffu endured. Intense and candid, the story underscores the risks and rewards of uncompromised activism. Final pages include photographs of Ruffu, as well as her personal plea for reforms in the horse-racing industry.