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I'm going to second the sentiments left by Karen, respectfully to your opinions of course. Believing that she is absolutely correct in her views. As I believe now that these connections are what killed this beautiful filly. It was ego and it's just that simple I think! Why else run her in the biggest and most prestigious race in the world?
The Paul Moran article is fabulous and he predicted this would in fact happen to this great filly!! Thanks Karen for posting it!! It helps to put this tragedy into better perspective. I'd urge you to read the article Railbird!!
Karen posted an article ths morning on the main board by Paul Moran. Please go read it here!! It'll lend new light to your views as it has mine and many others I'm certain. Here is that article. Eight Belles Deserves Better This author makes some eye opening remarks that well they make better sense than anyone I've listened to thus far!
I completely respect your view. And if she had broken down DURING THE RACE, I would say you were spot on. But I'd like to respectfully disagree with you that the owners running her in the race killed her, for the very reason that it happened during the gallop out.
If Rick Porter had just sent Eight Belles straight to the Derby without any sort of consideration, well, then I might blame it on ego. But they debated this decision for weeks. They made a point of cross-entering her because if her post didn't set her up for success, they didn't want to push her. They considered every possible angle and whether she came into the race right.
She had already beaten up on her own division time and again. The next logical step for her was to step outside of her division and take on a bigger challenge--just as Rags did in the Belmont last year. If she had finished 10th in the Derby, I might say the owners just ran her because of ego and that she didn't belong there.
But her finish proved she belonged, and that they'd spotted her well.
She was moving at a slow gallop when the accident occured. It's not something that the stress of racing caused. That's something that could have happened in the paddock, or during a morning gallop. Hell, even galloping out after a race against fillies! People are so quick to point fingers at people for racing fillies against colts when they break down, but forget that they break down racing against their own gender (Go For Wand, Pine Island, Gallant Secret) too.
I'm a lifelong racing fan and I hope to work in the industry once I'm done with college. I don't push accidents under the rug--I think Eight Belles' death, along with Pine Island's two years ago and Chelokee's breakdown, is just more proof that Churchill needs a synthetic surface. I think Barbaro's accident should be remembered because of all the good he did for laminitis research. There is a difference between sweeping an accident under the rug....and understanding that there's nowhere to place blame for the accident.
Loving racing isn't about sweeping accidents under the rug. It's about celebrating the highs, being devastated by the lows, but not walking away because of the lows....just working to eliminate them.
I'm not afraid to lambast the connections of a horse when I think they're to blame for an accident--I absolutely ripped George's connections after the BC. But I don't believe this is one of those cases.
I sincerely hope everyone on this board understands this point of view.
I will not mence words with you nor will I go into my experience and knowledge to qualify the way I think and feel.
You did not change my mind and you have a lot to learn.
Karen Macmanus - Dallas, Texas
How long have you been following racing?
[soap box speech]
Without mincing my words - although I feel sorry for many of her connections, I feel none for Rick Porter. He is one of the worst thoroughbred owners - having had a bit of success he thinks he knows it all, and is in love far too much with himself and the media.
I said weeks ago that this filly did not belong in this race - it happened because she had not prepped against the boys. The example I use, is like the best high school football player, going to the Super Bowl. He could well be good enough to be there, however he would never have taken so many hard hits, he would not be playing above his physiological limits. Going into that race something was going to break, either her legs or her heart -
[/soap box speech]
Someone posted this article before Derby Day. I thought it offered some interesting insights on fillies racing w/ the boys. I've copied some excerpts here:
Why the Filly Has a Chance
By Jim Squires
Yet most so-called experts believe that Eight Belles, winner of five races, second in two others and undefeated in four starts this year, has a better chance against the colts [than Proud Spell], mainly they say because she is bigger and more formidable looking than Proud Spell. Of course no one has offered any statistical or scientific evidence that size makes much difference to racehorses. Speed and heart seem to have more to do with it. And Jones-trained fillies always seem to have plenty of both.
Any doubt to the speed part should have been dispelled Sunday morning when working back-to-back, Eight Belles and Proud Spell blistered the Churchill Downs main track dirt in the second- and third-fastest five-furlong drills of the day, 58.20 and 58.40 seconds. Only massive and celebrated Colonel John, working for the first time on dirt, stopped the clock in 57.80 and immediately became the favorite of Churchill Downs backside habitués, at least until Big Brown gets to town. But according to Brisnet speed ratings, one of handicappers’ most prized tools, Colonel John has yet to break 100 in six races, 98 being his best. Proud Spell, meanwhile, has run a 99, a 100 and a 102, and Eight Belles has hit a 99 twice and a 103. Big Brown has scored the highest with a 110 in the Florida Derby and a 102 in an impressive allowance race............
Conventional wisdom holds that colts are generally bigger and stronger than fillies and as a result of having testicles instead of ovaries naturally intimidate the fillies, causing them to give up. Females don’t have a lot of influence in racing conventional wisdom, which of course sent Giacomo off at 50-1.
Breeders of racehorses often see things differently. A lot of fillies, especially until they are 3 or 4 years old, are stronger and faster than the colts. Like humans, they tend to mature earlier and get their act together physically and mentally before the colts do.
In fact, 3-year-old races may be the best time for the girls to take on the boys. Anyone who has been watching Proud Spell run since she was a beginning 2-year-old in Jones’s barn will attest they haven’t made the horse that can force her to give up. She was once a workmate of another filly in Jones’ barn named Once Is Enough, who was born and raised on my farm, and who was leading her maiden race by six lengths when she suffered a slab fracture of her knee. Once is Enough grew up with colts and never saw one she couldn’t run into the ground.
Forget that nonsense that intimidation is a male prerogative in the equine world, too. Young females often run the colts off their food in the pasture. And a lot of big handsome colts have had to be moved to safer quarters just to protect them from a dominant, mean-tempered little filly. Ask the people who worked for Todd Pletcher about the toughest 3-year-old in that herd they had contesting the Triple Crown last year which one was most intimidating to working company in the morning.
If Curlin could talk, he could tell you how intimidated that filly was in the stretch at Belmont. You’d think Rags to Riches would have stopped some of this nonsense by now.
What keeps horses from winning the Kentucky Derby has nothing to do with gender. It is the excitement of the cavalry charge from the gate to the first turn that saps their energy and leaves them breathless and staggering with a furlong left to go. When the door slams at the eighth pole, it hits both colt and filly with equal force.
But there are two big obstacles for fillies facing colts for the first time, that could be easily overcome by experience in earlier prep races. When running against one another, fillies do a lot of talking in the gate, shrill whinnying for the most part. But the sound of colts in the gates is different, more slamming around, grunting and snorting. Colts seldom whinny in a race gate. This can be unnerving to fillies, who are often in a hurry to leave, sapping adrenaline as object of a chase.
The other is that fillies don’t run the longer races as preps. Eight Belles has never run longer than a mile and a sixteenth, while several of the colts have contested one or more contests of a mile and an eighth. Of course, Rags to Riches had never run a mile and a half, and grunting, snorting boys didn’t bother her a bit.
Outstanding Thoroughbreds are those like Eight Bells who run with their heart. Porter and Jones knew she belonged in the Derby and that is why they ran her. Regret, Winning Colors and Genuine Risk have won the race. If a filly is good enough she deserves to enter. Fillies have raed colts for hundreds of years and have won. No one had a problem last year when Rags to Riches beat Curlin in the Belmont.....would everyone say that was done for greed? She belonged in that race as Eight Bells did in the Derby due to her ability.
This is a horrible, unspeakable tragedy but as Mr. Jones said and all horse lovers and owners know...a freak thing like this could have happened in a field, paddock or barn...not only a racetrack. He was not condoing what happened to Bells, just trying to make people see that horrible things can and do happen to horses if they are simply walking to the barn or running in the field.
What needs to happen is for breeders to stop inbreeding and the sport start banning those who use drugs on their horses from the sport for life. Reform is what is needed not forming opinions of people based on what is written or quoted in the press ...or even from the emotions we all feel right now. We must call for reform in the sport so that it is as safe as can be going forward.
In the meantime, I know that we can all agree that Bells was an incredible animal and that she will be missed forever. Let's not let her death be in vain and call for breeding and drug reform rather than bash her connections.