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Howdy. We've moved from Cayce, but St. Elizabeth of South Rose Hill or Lizette de Waccamaw de Sud just don't do it for me.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Tears on Derby Day

Izzy and I have made a point of watching the Kentucky Derby for over a decade now -- I think since he first discovered Walker Percy's recipe for Mint Juleps.

I always tear up at the singing of "My Old Kentucky Home" just before the race. There's no good reason for it, but it always happens.

This year, there was also a reason for tears at the end. After an incredibly hard fought race, Eight Belles, who came in 2nd by 5 lengths but who beat the 3rd place horse by 2-3 lengths, "broke down" just after the end of the race. She sustained compound fractures of both front ankles and was euthanized on the track. In looking for more info, I came across message boards filled with angry comments -- about the sport, about NBC's coverage, etc. All I can say is that it was quite sad to see such an athlete reach the end of her career and life. But after so much time was (ultimately futilely) spent last year on trying to "fix" Barbaro, maybe this was the best thing to do.

In the interests of social commentary/application, I'll note that Sen. Clinton had been reported to be a fan of Eight Belles, given her long-shot status as a filly running against 19 colts. Kind of sounds like some of the early Dem debates. Now that we've seen a 2nd place finish and a humane dispatching of a mortally wounded combatant, is it time for another 2nd place finisher to "dispatch" her own campaign? Any bets as to when the chattering classes will begin making this same analogy/suggestion?

In the interests of full disclosure on the above question, I've got no dog in this hunt. I'd vote for Obama as speech-maker-in-chief, but not as Commander-in-Chief.

Updated with picture, link at 9:30 PM.


St. Izzy said...

I was especially impressed with Barbaro’s Derby win last year when he had such a clumsy start out of the box. It looked to my untrained eyes like he was just too eager and uncontrolled at the start. And then two weeks later he again dug in with too much power and shattered an ankle. It was a heartbreaking attempt at recovery ending in laminitis.

Again to my untrained eyes, it looks like a similar tragedy today. Eight Belles had an amazing run and looked like she hated being bested by Big Brown. When his afterburners kicked in and he easily broke away from the pack, Eight Belles took a moment and then broke away herself; there was nearly as long a gap between Eight Belles and the pack as there was between Big Brown and Eight Belles. I think she dug in with too much power, that she forced her body to give too much in the attempt to keep up. I willing to bet that, at speed, she first cracked one ankle and then, favoring that one, cracked the other. And then her speed kept he pounding and the fractured compounded.

However it happened, this is two tragedies in two years. Fast, strong, winning athletes whose spirits were too great for their bodies. Is there any way to prevent this happening again? Is there some way of training these animals that will keep them from injuring themselves? Or some way of breeding stronger ankles?

Prodigal Jon said...

this has nothing to do with horses but I loved your comment on my site, stuff christians like. I implore you to please keep commenting. I am in the process of writing the book version and are turning to smart,funny people like you for awesome ideas. Seriously I am about 12% funny on most days. That's it.

Mattheus Mei said...

I'm sure I wasn't the first, but perhaps one of the first within your blogosphere to make the tongue and cheek comparison.