Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Eight Belles and Derby tragedy

What a sad tragedy it was last Saturday in the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby. The talented filly, Eight Belles, died after finishing second when her two front ankles broke. She had to be euthanized right on the track.

Eight Belles was a great horse with a tremendous competitive streak as witnessed by her second-place showing against the boys in a talented field of 20.

She ran her best race of her career that day and paid for it with her life.

Horse racing is a tremendous sport and has a great history. But changes need to be made to prevent injuries such as the one Eight Belles suffered.

One change must come in terms of breeding. So much of today's breeding is geared toward speed and that can be dangerous on a young 3-year-old body.

Also, medication is an issue. Too many horses are on medication and go to the track injured but because of the medication don't feel it. There simply needs to be more oversight by horse racing officials on what trainers are giving to their horses.

Two years ago Barbaro suffered what turned out to be a life-ending injury in the Preakness. That was a very tragic event.

Eight Belles' death is more tragic to me in some ways. The fact that she broke down right after the race in what was a tremendous race, was a sad ending to a great day.

I followed the career of Eight Belles closely over the last few months. She was getting better each race and those close to her felt she could race against the best, regardless of gender. They were right.

Let's hope her legacy is always remembered.

- Felix