Sunday, May 4, 2008

Silent Sunday: In Memory of Eight Belles

The joy I felt as Big Brown brilliantly galloped over the finish line, winning the Kentucky Derby yesterday afternoon, was immediately replaced with a deep and profound sadness at the premature and tragic  loss of the beautiful and talented filly, Eight Belles. Her fatal  accident was an immediate reminder that the Sport of Kings is never held without enormous risk and sorrow.

My heart and well wishes go out to Eight Belle's connections, owner: Fox Hill Farms, trainer: Larry Jones, breeder: Robert N. Clay and Serengeti Stable, and her jockey, Gabriel Saez.

Fly with the angels, sweet Eight Belles.

Join me in sending condolences to Eight Belle's connections by leaving a comment.


Anonymous said...

This should not have happened. Protections need to be put in place so that these injuries are reduced significantly. I don't know if that looks like going to all synthetic tracks, not racing so frequently, having thorough exams of their legs prior to racing, waiting until horses are older and their bodies/bones are more mature....I'm not sure. But something really needs to change. It is so saddening that these horses fight so hard to win and we are not protecting them from these situations.

Anonymous said...

Sad that something so "freaky" would happen during the Derby...

Vicki said...

This is such a tragedy. I think what makes it worse is that is was the Derby, and on national TV. The most troubeling thing was that it happened during the galloop out. Just doesn't make sense. I will not be surprised if they find that something happened before she broke down. RIP beautiful girl.

Anonymous said...

This is a definite tragedy...first Barbaro, and now Eight Belles. Add to that the fact Big Brown has foot / hoof problems, it really makes you wonder if this industry (if you can call it that) shouldn't be monitored more closely. Both Barbaro and Eight Belles died needlessly at the hands of idiots trying to make a buck. Just my opinion, sorry if I offended anyone.

Janet Roper said...

I am both grieved and angered by Eight Belles untimely death. For the most part, the racing industry pushes the youngsters too fast and too hard, just for the almighty win. Horses become commodities, instead of living, breathing, sacred creatures. One journalist (in my opinion) had the gall to say that Eight Belles ran the race of her life. No, she was forced to run a race to her death. My understanding is that she had a big heart, but even a big heart can only give so much.

As an animal communicator, I can't help but wonder what horses such as Eight Belles and Barbaro are trying to tell us, and what insights we humans are losing out on by not listening to the wisdom of the horses.

Jo, I appreciate you giving this tribute to Eight Belles and sharing your heartfelt condolences.

Janet Roper

Anonymous said...

Tell me God NO!! Not another loss over racing! There is a reason I WILL NOT ride my horses BEFORE 3! Their bones usually are NOT developed enough for this kind of stress!
My heart goes out to the owners. Luckily it was my 50th and I missed this! (won't watch anyways. Tired of seeing horses get all busted up.)But I also feel so badly for ALL who had to see such a being go down the way she did! Poor Prado! Also don't know the name of Eight Belles jockey but God be with him also! Please folks! Horses are forever! Let's let them mature to a good age so they can enjoy their 'run for the roses' many years after. A good thing does take time! Let's try to make them change the ages so we won't have to watch more breaks of bones and hearts!
Forgive me...just my opinion!~rc~

Luvbarbaro said...

Janet, Very Well said! I am almost embarrassed to admit that I am a horse racing fan, so I did watch all the "Churchill Downs" pre-shows this week. I am also very angry & very sad for Eight Belles. Many of the ESPN reporters, prior to Saturday, did say they were surprised she was running in the race. That she will get bumped around, she's not a Big filly like some of the filly's who have run in past Derby's were etc... I feel badly for Larry Jones, the trainer, but right now I'm having a hard time forgiving the owners for letting their filly run in the Derby, when she could have easily run Friday in the Kentucky Oaks-- and won!

May You Rest In Peace Beautiful Girl Eight Belles!!

Anonymous said...

I have to ask the question...what is perceived to be the difference between horse racing and greyhound racing? Most states have made dog racing illegal. Where is the justice in racing horses that are too young to have well-formed bones?

Seeing this happen again in a major horse race just breaks my heart!

Rest in peace, dear Eight Belles.


lj (%) said...

I'm very saddened by the tragedy at Churchill Downs in yesterday's Kentucky Derby as are we all. Everyone in this racing industry (and yes it is an industry) knows well that changes need to be made. Nothing happens fast enough for everyone's standards.

Maybe it is just that they start horses too young. I've always felt that 2 YO was too young. I know the Derby horses are 3 YO. But many times they'll start at age 2. Maybe they ought to breed for stamina, more than for speed. I agree things need to change but where to start, and what exactly to change first, . . . I do not have the answers.

LuvBarbaro, you stated that Eight Belles was not a big filly, . . ? Well if 17H. is not big to you then I don't know what is!! And they had every right to enter Eight Belles in the Ky. Derby, and she'd more than proved she could compete with the boys at that level. And what makes you think she'd have been any better off racing in the Oaks than she was in the Derby? She'd most likely have broken down in either race.

Also, . . there is no way of knowing she'd have won the Oaks the day before. This is horse racing and we never know for sure the outcome.

Jockey Gabriel Saez is whom I feel most sorry for today. His very first Ky. Derby ending in such a tragedy. I hope he will have much success in future Derby's as I thought he rode a brilliant race in such a large field as they'd had yesterday. The jockey was not at fault, and did not pull his horse up too quickly as has been suggested on other forums.

Accidents do happen, and all the time too!! This was unfortunate and tragic and I'm deeply saddened for all the connections. There doesn't need to be anyone specific to blame I don't think. Hope we can all learn from this tragedy. And go on to tomorrow.

Eight Belles, may she always be remembered for being the great racehorse she truly was! A filly with a big heart who gave it all in her final race!!

RIP, Eight Belles!

Luvbarbaro said...

Jock4hire- I realize she is large for a filly, however as far as competing against the boys, I don't agree with it -- at all!! Just my opinion!

We now have Eight Belles deceased, don't you wonder why the ONLY break down yesterday was the FILLY????

Last year when Rags beat Curlin by a nose at the Belmont, she was then injured and out for the season. Now of course she is retired and sound Thankfully, however Curlin is still racing and is strong as ever -- obviously!! I'm sure you get the point!

Do you remember a filly named Ruffian who was also a "Large Filly?!!"

Anonymous said...

For some strange reason this has been a topic with my husband and I. Yes, thorobreds are usually a tall horse. 17 hands is a nice size in height but being tall doesn't mean that their bones are developed! I see this first hand with our own horses. 2 is just too young to start them at! Even 3 can be small for a while. We need to recognize this fact and try to do whatever we can to prevent any further terrible deaths do to this result! I DO NOT watch RACES! They scare the heck out of me!
Sorry! I am sad! ~rc~

kneadstoknow said...

Just adding my two cents here!

First cent: I agree with everyone that has said that starting them out so early in their formative years makes no sense at all. Why start a horse who has not developed their muscles and joints to their fullest extent? It is an accident waiting to happen, as far as I am concerned. We put them to the greatest strain on their bodies, which are not ready to take that strain. In my opinion, horses should not be raced until at least 4 years old, when their bodies ( and their brains) have developed more fully.

Second cent: It is a travesty, in my opinion, to have 20 horses break from the starting gate. Many of these horses are still fairly green, and the noise alone must be very frightening to them. Why not limit the KD to no more than 12-14 of the very best horses? It is an accident waiting to happen to start off with 20.

Well you have my two cents. It won't bring back Eight Belles, but maybe, if the racing industry would be more patient and realistic, fewer horses would be injured in this tragic manner.


lj (%) said...

Luvbarbaro, and All Readers,

When I'm wrong, I like to think the best thing to do is come right out and say so!! I hope you all can forgive my being flawed.

Luvbarbaro wrote me some of her personal insights yesterday, and it got me to thinking, and to doing some research!! Lord, forgive me for being so remiss!!

I'd stated here yesterday that Eight Belles had proven she could run with the boys. Wrong as I could be! I'd based that on her Ky. Derby race, and nothing more. I've at least had the sense to do more investigation into the history of Eight Belles by way of her PP's and since Luvbarbaro's e-mail to me! I'm sorry for not doing so before!!

I'd not watched any of the pre-race broadcast which no doubt would've shown me what I learned since yesterday. And that is that Eight Belles was not in this race for any reason other than to feed an overblown ego of an idiot owner who just as surely killed that filly, as if he'd put a gun to her head!

Why? 1st: Because she had never faced the colts before (I'd not known this), giving this owner way too much credit. He not only raced her for the first time with colts in the Derby, but the toughest in the whole country to boot!! Idiotic and brain dead comes to mind!!

Why? 2nd: She'd never won a G-I event (I'd not known this), prior to racing in the most prestigious horse race in all the world!!

Why? 3rd: This filly had never run further than 1 1/16 MI. (I'd not known this) and the Ky. Derby aint the place you wanna find out if your colt or filly is up to the task of gettin' the distance!

I'm sorry ya'll for being such a dummy! I'd not paid enough attention to the reasons for this happening! I made an error in my judgment, and I do apologize to all here and especially to Jo, who's so graciously allowed me to voice my opinions here.

What I've learned is valuable info, and had it not been for Luvbarbaro I might not have looked into this in such depth that I did! She's an inspiration to me, I hope I'll be wiser next time. But thanks for giving me a push. I owe you one, thank you!

RIP, Eight Belles!
jock4hire :^(

Mrs Mom said...

Thank you for stopping by Oh HorseFeathers! KTK. Hope you enjoyed the visit there.

Onto Eight Belles- I have to wonder about the possibility that microfractures were already there, weakening the joints. Does not seem all that far-fetched to me right now... Dont think we will ever know though, as I doubt that post-mortem radiographs were done. Or if pre-exsisting damage would be indentifiable after the "new" breakage...

Dr. Deb Bennet has a great study posted up on why NOT to ride before horses are 4. There is actual physical proof on bony development... Great read, and I will try to dig the link out and post it if anyone would like it.

Anyways- thanks again for stopping in at Oh HorseFeathers! Feel free to "rant" anytime over there ;)

Anonymous said...

I have a video by a Native American horse trainer. He says 'Anglo's are in too much of a hurry for the end result.'This I have to agree with! Thanks to the person who said they need to be atarted at 4 as my young horses aren't even fully bloomed until 5. It would be terrible for the horses if racing was stopped altogether like dog racing though. The horse industry is already having more horses being put down, sold to Mexico and or Canada to eat or just flat abused or being dumped as they can no longer feed them. This is alarming news to me! A horse should be forever! If you plan on breeding do so for the love of this creature. Keep it! Horses are forever. God Blerss you Eight Belles! ~rc~

Linda - Nickers and Ink said...

So sad.

As a horse lover (and a journalist), I find the media frenzy bothering me as well. Can't we just mourn the loss a while?

Because I have a few young horses (2, 3 and 4 years old), I find it unfathomable that equines would be raced so young. It's all about turnover. Tragic.

We're just now starting training on the 3 year old. Who would race a horse before his skeletal structure is fully formed?


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