I’m not a bleeding heart, and I’ll never be a member of PETA – you can bet that much.
I didn’t cringe even a little or entertain the idea of becoming an animal activist after Kentucky Derby champion Barbaro suffered what could be a fatal injury in the opening stretch of the 131st running of the Preakness Stakes.
Maybe a few Pimlico patrons wondered what they were doing dressed to the nines, sipping my monthly income out of a glass and watching little people ride big animals around a circle, but I didn’t question it.
In case you didn’t see it, Barbaro – a 3-to-5 favorite to win the Preakness – made it about 100 yards before his jockey, Edgar Prado, dismounted the champion horse because he was worried about it.
Barbaro was diagnosed with a fractured ankle, hardly a concern for the average person.
Just because horses can’t just lay back and let the bones heal doesn’t mean he should have quit. Because a horse has only a couple arteries running through their legs, a fracture can sometimes cut off the blood flow to the limb, rendering it useless.
Just because Larry Bramlage, the on-call veterinarian at Pimlico, described Barbaro’s injury as “significant” and said that “there are at least a couple of things that are very life-threatening for him” doesn’t mean his jockey should have given up on the Triple Crown. I mean, no horse has won the Triple Crown since 1978. Just because Bramlage said Barbaro’s career is over doesn’t mean this is it for him as a racehorse.
There are some surviving tripod horses. In fact, some horses go on to contribute heavily to society.
According to idausa.org, an animal rights Web site, around 800 racehorses die each year from fatal injuries suffered on U.S. racetracks. An additional number of approximately 3,566 sustain injuries so bad that they cannot finish their races – that’s just good news for businesses.
In a July 26 issue of The Blood-Horse magazine, there was a story reporting that 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand was slaughtered for food in Japan. Countries such as Japan and Italy consider horse meat a delicacy, with some horses selling for as much as $500 in auctions for their meat.
Some may cry, “Inhumane!” but I think it just makes the sport better. Wouldn’t you run faster if you knew that if you didn’t win, you would end up as food?
Like every other American, I happen to love horse racing.
In fact, I like to bet on the ponies from time to time.
There’s nothing that says “United States” more than getting rich by exploiting things – especially big, wild animals. Nothing more awesomely American than donning a big hat, sipping $1,000 drinks and shelling out millions of dollars just to push a 24-month-old, half-ton creature to its brink in the name of sport.
Horse racing will endure. I mean, here’s a sport with no major safety advances in 140 years – it has stuck to its traditions, and by golly, it’d better keep doing it.
That’s the great thing about this sport.
That’s why I don’t understand why everyone was crying into their mint juleps Saturday.
I know myself and millions of others won’t remember Barbaro. There will be a hundred more Barbaros and an even deeper obsession with a horse winning the Triple Crown.
People will continue to bet their paychecks on ponies, and those nice old women with fancy hats will keep coming to races in droves.
We will all sing a song, observe a moment of silence and tip our hats, and the horse racing business will continue as usual.
You can bet on that.