Tuesday, January 30, 2007

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.

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At 12:55 AM, Blogger kevin said...

Hi Michael
I like your post yesterday regarding the circumcision and Aids vaccine.

I believe whether you are circumcised or not will not give you any real protection. I want to see more research before i agree with that.

I hope you are having a great day in New York city.

Kev in NZ

At 12:19 PM, Blogger YOY said...

The story of Barbaro has bothered me too. That despite the fact that horses are my #2 phobia...after public speaking. I can admire them from afar.

Horseracing is big here with all the thoroughbreds coming to Saratoga for the month of August. The Travers Stakes is billed as the fourth race in the triple crown.

At 12:36 PM, Blogger Donnie said...

I thought it was sad that after all their heroic efforts to save Barbaro, he still had to be put down. What a shame.

Horses are beautiful, majestic animals. I'd love to ride one one day.

At 5:42 PM, Blogger Dave Brousseau said...

As you might expect, Louisville took Barbaro under its wing after he won the Derby, and after his accident his condition was a lead story on the local news for several days. The community's reaction to his euthanization was similar. Churchill Downs (where the Kentucky Derby is run) is posting condolence cards at the track, for folks wishing to send their sympathies to his owners. Online condolences can be sent to http://www.vet.upenn.edu/barbaro/

A friend asked me what the big deal was about all of this, and while I think some of it has to do with the very public way in which he was injured, I think a lot of it is that feeling you describe in your blog: We've seen him win one race (in OUR city), and we all feel as though we have stock in him.

Thanks for the kind comments about Louisville. Anytime you and Scott are up for a visit, I'd be happy to host you again.


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