A random look at the life and times of Jim Rising recovering radio addict and newspaper columnist.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

R.I.P. Eight Belles

“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” Winston Churchill
I am not a big fan of horse racing. Up until yesterday I had nothing against it. I have been to Pocono Downs fewer times than the fingers on my right hand, mostly to be a part of the Miss Pocono Downs beauty contest.
But just as I always watch the Super Bowl, the World Series and other big sporting events I will usually try to watch the races of the Triple Crown.
I like all the pomp and circumstance. The Kentucky Derby with it’s mint juleps and “My old Kentucky Home” sung by men in suits and ladies wearing ridiculous hats always seems like it might be a fun time. But it wasn’t a fun time yesterday. Not for the filly “Eight Belles.” It was eerily reminiscent of the Preakness just 2 years ago in 2006 when Barbaro fractured three bones in and around the ankle of his right hind leg. Barbaro put up a brave fight and hung on for eight months before he was finally put down.
The decision for Eight Belles was much faster. She was euthanised before the roses were presented to the winners after finishing second but in doing so fracuturing both of her front ankles. The big filly never left the track where she had wowed the horse racing world, alive.
Earlier on “Derby Day” the long suffering wife and I in our travels drove by a stable. In the front yard was a gorgeous young horse. “Look, a pony!” I said.
The wife said “That’s a colt.” Once again putting my lack of knowledge in it’s place. We turned around and drove by the animal again, which was so young it was not used to cars and pulled at his handlers grip on his reins. It was full of piss and vinegar and you could feel it’s young life force from yards away even inside our car.
I have never been accused of being an animal rights activist. I have hunted in my life, caught many a fish and I don’t use humane mouse traps. I have always found the protests about circus animals a little silly. But I may have to rethink this whole thing. In the top part of this column I mentioned the term “sporting events.” I did so in connection with games played by men.
The event yesterday at Churchill downs is not in my new opinion a sporting event. Given the choice of watching that young colt run in a meadow or die in a race trying to please it’s masters is no longer a choice for me. I think my Triple Crown watching days are done.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with you up to a point about the horse racing. I too watched in stunned silence as they announced that Eight Belles was down. I vowed I would never watch live what I had the misfortune of seeing taped on HBO and other venues-that is the crippling of a horse athlete. To watch in horror as a horse continues to run while its front leg is dangling at a grotesque angle is to know what it means to see the end of a champion. How many human runners would continue under those conditions-with a rider on their back? I celebrate the incredible beauty that is horse racing. But if you really want see a sport with some real muscle behind it watch bull riding. I dare you to find a sport in which a hapless human stands as much chance of being pulverized as winning the purse at the end of eight heart-pounding seconds. The bulls don't break their legs. The humans sure do. But then again I could be wrong.