Death of a Champion
The story of last year's Kentucky Derby winner, Barbaro, has really touched me for some reason. As I'm sure you know by now he suffered a tragic injury at the Preakness last year. Every effort was made to help him heal but in the end he was in much too much pain. His owners were forced to make the difficult decision to euthanize him on Monday. I don't follow horse racing all that much, but ever since I had a job that took me to Louisville a few times during Derby season, I always feel a bit nostalgic when I watch the coverage on TV.
My friend Dave, a Louisville native, hosted me for the Derby one year and made sure I got to all the best parties. I was struck by the welcoming and friendly community and the way the whole town, no matter who they are, celebrates the event. It was a great weekend.
Smarty Jones was the winner that year. He was a long shot as I recall even though his record that season was undefeated. He went on to win the Preakness and I thought for sure that Smarty Jones, MY very first Derby winner, would go on to be the first horse in years to win the Triple Crown. But by time the Belmont Stakes came around he had slowed down. The sports commentators said he was tired. He was washed up by the end of the season.
It struck me how like a dancer the career of a thoroughbred is so tragically short. None of us wants to think of our prime being over in the blink of an eye like that--maybe that's why Barbaro's death has received so much media coverage. It speaks to us all.