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A horse is never in the right place when it costs it, it's life. In my opinion. You don't think she broke down do to the many stress factors that the race brought on??? How could you not?? The actual stress of running the race is what caused her eventual death( her legs to break causing her to be put down. Why do you think they have the Kentucky Oaks ? That is a worthy race for filly's and the horses do not know one race from the other, all they know is that they were trained to run against other horses ( and of course some of this comes natually) but it is the owners and trainers who want the ultimate ego satisfaction when they do what they did to Eight Belles. She had never run a race that long, she was not a G-1 horse and she had never raced against boys.
Her legs did not break going into the shoots, they broke after the tremendous stress put on them by the race. She was born to run, but not to go beyond her limits and that is where her humans come in. And her trainer had already made some noise about not being completely happy about her Kentucky Derby entry. If she had a different starting gate (like Big Brown) they would have pulled her, they left her in because of the good position. How is that for a reason to have your horse run in the Derby? Not good enough for me!!!!!
My heart goes out to Eight Belles, she was a beautiful, talented filly and deserved much better than this. I will not feel sorry for her conections. They retired Rags to Riches because she was not the same after her race, I read she had a hair line fracture.
Railbird, I will join you in sending condolences to Eight Belles connections. I know they are heartbroken. I, too, experienced such heartbreak & it was with utter disbelief that I witnessed it happen. I don't know if you have read my post of the other night when I told the story of my filly, at just 1 1/2 yrs. old, breaking down in the same way as Eight Belles. I saw what happened since I was watching her as I stood in the pasture at the water trough waiting for it to fill. My filly, Two Socks, (I called her Socks) loved to run & run as fast as she could. She was the happiest little horse who would race around the pasture for the sheer joy of it. At the end of her run, she would prance over to me nickering. God, I loved her. I was there for her birth & I was there at her death. The day of the accident, as she raced across the pasture & was nearing a patch of woods, a group of deer came out of the woods. Socks startled & tried to pull up too quickly. She was shortening her stride , trying to slow down too quickly & her body's momentum kept going forward. She buckled at both "ankles" & went down, breaking both of her front legs. My vet explained about her momentum going forward as she was shortening her stride under herself. He likened it to suddenly putting on the brakes in your car while driving 50 miles an hour. The momentum of the car would force your body forward as the wheels are attempting to stop the car. He also said that it is a freak accident that one may never see again. As soon as I saw what happened to Eight Belles, especially so far past the finish line, I immediately thought of Socks. The vet, Dr. Bramlege, also said he had never seen anything like that happen before. She did not break down during the race & finished with her ears up. Those of us who own horses know that that is an extremely good indicator of how a horse is feeling. She was fine as she crossed the finish line. It is not fair to blame Eight Belles connections. She did belong in that race. She proved that by coming in a very clear 2nd. I wish others would not dishonor her magnificent accomplishment by saying she didn't belong. Freak accidents happen. Who should be blamed for my Socks's same breakdown? Should I have kept her locked up in her stall, so she couldn't run? I think all would agree that would have been cruel.
Over the past 24 yrs, my husband & I have owned a horse farm & three we got as just retired off the track TB's. When we got them, we thought they would love being out in the pasture with the other mares. We thought wrong. Two of the three were miserable & spent their days pacing up & down the fence line of the pasture. They became disinterested & depressed. They stopped eating with the gusto they did when they first came to us. When they saw us, they would crane their necks looking at us as if to say, are you coming for us, now? The rest of our mares would go about their business of grazing, playing, etc. My husband discovered that if he took them out for a ride every few days & let them have their head, they would run like the wind. I think they thought theywere still working & then they were happy. Occasionally, we took them out together & the competition between them was something. Neither one wanted to give up the lead to the other. We didn't do that too often because I was worried about coming off & getting hurt. I don't have any connection with a race track. But, I do know horses. They are their happiest when they have a job. They love to run & are competitive. So, did we do them a favor thinking they would be happy retired, spending their days in a pasture with the other mares? The answer is no. They would have been perfectly content to continue racing. Their behavior clearly showed us that.
Eight Belles clearly, from all I had seen of her on TV, was a very happy horse. She was well loved. She proved she belonged. Then...just as with Socks, a freak accident. To start casting blame does nothing but further hurt those who are already devastated. I hurt for Eight Belles, I hurt for her connections & I hurt for my filly, Socks. I know what that devastation & utter disbelief feels like.
right to be there, it cost her, her life. How many times would you tune in to watch the Kentucky Derby if the 1st, 2nd & 3rd place horses broke legs upon the completion of the race? For what ever the reason was. This is happening to much to many horses. And it should not be tolerated by the viewing public.
The mark of a successful race is to start by entering the shoots alive and to run the race including the gallop around and end the race alive ( for both horse and jockey).
am sure you know whereof you speak and for me--i don't care who her owners/trainer are/is today...had my own opinions before the race but i will let that be dealt with by all those on the track like you and others in the know---
i am just deeply saddened and know those who loved her(whether the right way or not but loved her) have to be heartbroken..........
I haven't posted much about Eight Belles and her breakdown for a number of reasons, one being that I know I have been too emotionally crushed to make a whole lot of sense. The mental picture that I will always have in my mind of this majestically beautiful filly laying there in the dirt of Churchill Downs with her red and white "tube socks" on...helpless and hurt...well, all I can say is unfortunately that image will stay in my mind forever. I can only liken it to a small child that was lovingly dressed by their mother to go to school and then being hit by a car on the way. There's no other word to describe it but tragic.
Another reason that I have not posted is because, to me anyway, there are just too many unanswered questions. There are too many "what ifs" and "whys". Personally, I feel like unless the necrospy reveals some underlying cause for this (such as heart failure for example), I don't think we will ever know exactly what happened to Eight Belles during the final moments of that day. I'm not a medical person, I could be wrong and I certainly hope that the necropsy sheds some light on this for all concerned including her connections, the general public and also for the future safety of all the other horses out there that will race again.
I honestly don't think that, at this point anyway, anyone should be blaming anybody else for this because we just don't know. I'm sure that there is enough guilt and sadness over Eight Belles to go around. Should the necropsy produce some hard facts as to where to find the fault or to place the blame then that will be a different story. Until then I don't think there is a whole lot more that we can do except to mourn the premature death of a beautiful, young and talented filly. Does the racing industry need reform? You bet it does but it needs to be presented with facts and figures, not emotional pleas. I think the best way to honor Eight Belles and all the horses that have gone before her is to continue to gather facts in addition to taking the facts that we already have and to try and help make these changes possible so the future horses can race in better conditions, on better surfaces, with tighter regulations and with stronger breeding than they now have. There are many problems that we have to overcome with regarding to the racing industry. Again, I feel like the problems do not lie in any one area but in a multitude of areas.
For those people (both on the forum and also off) that would like to lay the blame solely at the feet of Rick Porter and Larry Jones, I will leave you with the following thought:
I take you back in time to The Belmont Stakes of 1973. Secretariat just took the Triple Crown by finishing this race by an amazing 31 lengths in the record time of 2:24 flat. I was watching that race at home with my Dad. I can remember that day as clear as if it was yesterday. I remember saying to my Dad " He's going too fast, he's not going to be able to finish...he's going to kill himself!". "Why are they letting him run so fast?". Well obviously that was not too fast for Secretariat but...no one knew that until he did it. I am not the only one who questioned that at the time. It turned out well...Secretariat is an equine hero to this day. His jockey, Ron Turcotte, is remembered as a great jockey who had the "guts" to let Secretariat run that day. His trainer, Lucien Laurin, is remembered as a super trainer. His owner, Penny Chenery, is remembered and is still considered to be a most gracious lady and a wonderful horse person and owner. They are all held in high esteem.
Now let's, for a moment, consider what might have happened on that June day back in 1973. Secretariat could have broken down in the stretch...he could have totally collapsed for no other reason than, as some on here have said, he "ran himself to death". No one knew that day what might happen but there were many that watched that race who held their breath...fearful of what might happen. If that had happened Ron Turcotte, Lucien Laurin and Penny Chenery would all have been remembered in a far different light than they are today. Today they, along with Secretariat, are remembered as "heroes" in the equine world. They are remembered as wonderful, caring people who loved their horses and took good care of them, always putting the horses' welfare above their own...as they should be. However, if tragedy had befallen Secretariat, they would be remembered as the villians who ran Secretariat to his death. They would have done nothing different than they did but that's the way equine history would portray them.
As I said before, there are just too many "what ifs" going on here to blame any one thing or person(s). No matter what, there will always be unknown factors in horse racing. I truly hope that things can be learned from Eight Belles' death so those unknowns will, in time, become less and less.
I was upset last night when I heard that PETA was going after the jockey.
From what I read PETA wanted the jockey suspended DURING the investigation into EB's breakdown. That goes on his permanent record for always. What happens if the investigation shows that EB had a massive heart attack, which threw her sideways--causing one ankle to snap and then the other??? Is that the jock's fault--I think not.
However, with that being said if the investigation shows that the jock SHOULD have pulled EB up then I agree.
But let's let the system work. Suspending someone without due process is setting bad precedent in all other areas.
Beautifully stated......too many what if's...
Thanks so much for putting into words how I feel.
Thank you for that very driven comment!! I appreciate it! The world would've cried and mourned forever over such a what if!! Glad it went the other way for Big Red!!
You made a point that nobody else brought up! This is a Gamble business and that gamble doesn't come at only the mutuel windows! It's a gamble for the jocks, the horses, the trainers, owners, and just about everyone involved.