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A Sobering Derby | Superfectablog v3.0

Racehorses in History

June: Fairy Chant
b. 1937
Why: A champion at 3 and 4, Fairy Chant won the Beldame twice. She was in the money for 26 of her 42 races.

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A Sobering Derby

Big Brown’s victory is rather muted in light of the fate of Eight Belles (I feel a bit guilty about cashing our across the board ticket on her); it’s hard to cheer for Rick Dutrow in any case, but especially under these circumstances. At least she got to prove she was head and shoulders above this field. Bring on Casino Drive and Tomcito in the Belmont…

Edit: Another reason to hate NBC’s coverage – why did they feel the need to add on a special extra view of her breakdown?

At least there’s one other upside — Todd Pletcher now has a special place in history as far as last-place finishes.

Further edit: Upon reflection, this year’s Derby seems like a case in point regarding the fragility of the American thoroughbred; Big Brown’s foot problems were explained in some detail to the general public and Eight Belles showed the tragic results of what decades (or centuries) of breeding for precocious speed over soundness (certainly her sire, Unbridled’s Song, is no shining example of ideal fitness) can result in — although it’s equally possible that simple bad luck was the major factor. The role drugs like Lasix (and its illegal counterparts) might play has not even been touched on (yet).

I’d still like to see more robust blood brought in from Europe, South America and the Antipodes. The fact that we’re mourning the death of a filly whose sire had famously bad feet while celebrating the victory of a possibly freakishly fast horse with equally poor hoof health does not bode well.

10 comments to A Sobering Derby

  • Ernie

    Agree: NBC’s replay of the fatal accident was borderline ghoulish.

  • dana

    Yeah, I just got home and watch it. Incredible…

  • Anonymous

    Will Farrish came to my Derby party and Chelsea Clinton was wearing the SAME hat I was wearing.

    Susannah

  • Sparky Duck

    Good, I needed someone else to confirm that Rick Dutrow was a bit of a jacka%@

  • Sharon Crute

    Another thought, American race tracks are notorious for packing down tracks on stakes days to produce dazzling speed, times and ratings. The teeth on the harrowing apparatus are adjustable. Floating a muddy track will also pack it down. Who cares about these insane times? The fans, the breeders, the owners. Most trainers will tell you, speed kills. Will the synthetics alleviate this tendency from racing management? We’ll see…

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  • Jennifer

    I’ve been reading your blog for quite awhile, and have always enjoyed it immensely. Never felt the need to comment before now, but I, like I think many racing (and TB)fans are, felt the need to just express what’s been going on in my mind since this happened.

    I am sad for Eight Belles, sad that her body couldn’t support the heart and class she showed. But, after being around horses most of my life and being involved with race horses since I started riding in one way or another I know, as most of us do, that it is an unfortunate and unavoidable part of what it means to work with horses. She could have just as easily broken down in the Oaks, the next time she ran, the next workout, as a broodmare in a pasture. I’m sickened by it all, and never have I felt so miserable after a Derby.

    But most of all, I’m sad for this sport. I’m sad that the first thing I did when I came to work this morning was begin defending what happened, to have to say that yes, it’s unacceptable, yes it was awful, yes, I’ve had a rock in my stomach since it happened. But it was such a freak accident.

    And in defending, feeling like an ass because you know it sounds cold. You know that saying that you have seen first hand the competitiveness and will and heart of these animals to just RUN sounds unbelievable, because how can that be true when they have men with whips on their back? Knowing that there are bad elements of this sport that don’t deserve to be defended.

    I hate that all I’m reading now is propaganda, PETA targeting the jockey, people who have never worked with or much less been near a race horse who continue to assert that it is cruel, that these horses don’t want to run, don’t enjoy having a job. The generalization that each and every person ever involved in racing one way or another are greedy, money grubbing bastards. I sure as hell don’t keep good company then I guess.

    What I (and what your post touched upon) would like to address is the breeding. The fact that her sire is notorious for unsoundness, but keeps getting booked each season. THAT is what really needs to change in this industry. That’s what will heal the wounds. That and cleaning up the drug use, seriously suspending those who don’t play by the rules.

    So what do we do until then? How are we all, yet again, dealing with defending the good parts? Is it just a lost cause? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

  • allora

    Couldn’t agree more with what you and Jennifer said. I hate that Jezebel posted about this sad event. And I just can’t bring myself to comment over there (to defend my beloved sport) because I know I’ll get atttacked when they really should just stick to fashion. And yeah, NBC did not need to go searching through tape to find the fall. I could’ve lived without seeeing her lying on the track, as well.

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