Saturday, May 20, 2006

Breaking

Here's the thing about Thoroughbred racing: You pick a horse, and you're either right, or you're wrong. You win or you lose.

Then we have the That's Horseracing moments.

At 6:15 today, we were either one more race away again from the Triple Crown, or we weren't. I was fairly sure we would be, but also fairly sure that Barbaro wouldn't finish the thing in the Belmont. He's a young three-year-old.

The youth showed at the gate. "All eyes on Number Six," said the announcer, and Barbaro, having heard his cue, crashed through his starting slot as his fellow colts stood and awaited the bell.

Well, that was that. Horses who pull that type of thing either injure themselves doing so or expend so much energy in the process that when they need a new gear at the finish, there's no fuel left to shift into it. Barbaro was led around and re-stood.

Fifteen seconds after that, I lost the ability to say that I have never seen a horse break down during a televised race. Barbaro was pulled up as the rest of the pack, the shot at history, continued without him. He tried to run on even as his the hoof of his right hind leg dangled at a forty-five degree angle from his ankle. The jockey, Edgar Prado, was in tears; so, live and wired for sound in the NBC booth, was Gary "This Was Not In the Contract" Stevens.

These are the three scenarios when a horse suffers an injury during a race:

Bad: The jock pulls him up and the horse walks back to the barn under his own power

Worse: An equine ambulance shows up and vans the horse away

Change The Channel Very Quickly: Track officials and a veternarian examine the horse on the track, then erect a white screen

I don't think I have to tell you what happens behind that screen.

Barbaro is packed in a narrow, padded trailer tonight. He's lost a lot of blood; now the race is to save him as a stud.

I don't want to write about this anymore at: mb@blondechampagne.com

12 comments:

zaftiguous said...

As one who is STILL brought to tears by the memory of watching Ruffian brought to down earth when I was six years old...I'm with you.

Lisa Chumney said...

MB, I heard of the injury and immediately thought of you. I am not an avid fan but I am saddened by animals getting hurt. I am sad for you being such a fan also.

Cbell said...

I wept as soon as I saw him pulled up. My heart was in my throat and I could only hope that he would be saved for a studfarm. Such a brillant animal to be taken out of his career at such an early age.

Jenib said...

So sad...

Dantelope said...

Just when I thought I'd hit rock bottom for depression...

amy lou the reader said...

This is very, very sad. I'm glad I didn't watch the race.

James Baker said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I haven't watched a race since I was a child. BUT...I happened to be channel surfing and found the Preakness (sp?). I thought of you, and I had heard of the possibility of a horse completing the Trip Crown, so I tuned in.

I COULD NOT BELIEVE MY EYES! I admit, I started crying.

OMG, I think that you've made a fan of me though.

Prior to it turning into 'the Preakness from h-e-double hockey sticks', I started getting caught up in race fever. Watching the trainers warm up the horses (and yes, I almost typed horsies), the excitement of hearing Gary's voice (and thinking, Hey! I know someone who's met him! Sorta), watching them all line up. MAN! I loved it!

Than they had to go and make me cry :(

Tamar

Anonymous said...

I thought of you as I watched the race this weekend. You're what first peaked my interest in horse racing and the new boyfriend is the one that got me watching. If things like that happen, I may not survive the sport.

HelloBettyLou said...

I too thought of you when I heard of Barbaro's horrific injury. Such a young horse with so much potential...it is truly very sad. I hope he gets better to at least stud, if you look on CNN.com, he is eating and flirting with the mares in his stable so that's a good sign.

MB said...

Please hang in there, anonymous. The beauty of this sport far outweighs the pain. The longer you follow, the more it becomes a metaphor and preparation for life.

Lisa-roo said...

It was like watching Charismatic crash down a few years ago... as a future horse vet and current biology student, THIS is what keeps me studying and working hard to keep this sort of thing from happening, and when it does, someone's got to know how to fix it.

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