It’s no surprise that most people readily assume that I love horseracing. After all, my last mystery, TRIPLE CROSS, took place at the Kentucky Derby.
I do love watching horses run, but I don’t love horseracing. I love horses, and there’s the difference. In my opinion, any equine sport, whether it be the Olympic disciplines, barrel racing, endurance riding, etc., becomes less horse friendly at the upper levels where considerable prize money, reputations, and ego come into play. So, it was nice to see Rachel Alexandra’s connections (she won the 2009 Kentucky Oaks and Preakness) withdraw her from the Belmont Stakes scheduled this Saturday because they were thinking of her longtime health.
clipped from www.nyra.com
“We know the media and many fans would have liked to see her run in the Belmont Stakes -- we feel the same. But all of us sincerely interested in the horse must agree that we only want to see her run when it is best for her. While she is in great shape, having strong works, and recovering well from her amazing performances, we feel Rachel deserves a well-earned vacation. Since March 14, Rachel has won four graded races with just two weeks rest between her last two victories. We will always put her long-term well-being first. And, of course, we want to run her when she is fresh.”
I applaud them. They put the horse first.
Now, if you haven’t seen this year’s Kentucky Derby or Oaks, you’ve missed two outstanding performances by two special horses.
In the 2009 Kentucky Derby, Calvin Borel (a.k.a. Calvin Bo-Rail for his penchant of sneaking horses through gaps that open up along the rail) guided Mine That Bird from dead last to a stunning victory that made the rest of the field look like it was running in slow-mo. An amazing performance. In fact, the announcer was so focused on the horses that had comprised the race most of the way around the oval, he didn’t even notice Mine That Bird until the horse had pulled into a comfortable lead. After watching the video, back it up just a bit and watch Borel and Mine that Bird fly over to the rail in three strides and explode down the rail.
If you were impressed with the Derby, the Kentucky Oaks will blow you away. Rachel Alexandra, who went on to win the Preakness, proves she can run with the boys, no problem. What a special horse.
Here’s to Saturday and the Belmont Stakes. I’m hoping Mine That Bird continues his winning ways.
Kit, I totally agree with your view of racing and various levels of horse related competitions.
This year, I wasn't going to watch the Kentucky Derby. I had watched last year, witnessing with everyone else, the tragedy of Eight Belles. But like you, I love horses, and yes, I watched the KD as well as the Preakness. Two magnificent animals in Mine That Bird and especially Rachel Alexandra.
I do not agree with the hard training and racing of the young horses (2 & 3 yo), but I doubt restrictions will ever be made on the age issue. The racing industry is too lucrative. Make the money on the horses while they're young. But I suppose that's another post!
I was also happy to see they had decided not to run Rachel in the Belmont. From the press releases, I was reading between the lines the past couple of weeks. I was feeling they would hold her out of the Belmont. It's my view, she will be more valuable after she's done racing so they are preserving her for her next life in the breeding end of it all. I'm sure she'll be one of the lucky ones though.
Will be interesting to see how Mine That Bird does. He's definitely a scrapper! I loved how he came from behind without anyone even paying attention to him. Good ride from Borel too!
I know exactly how you felt about not wanting to watch the KD. In fact, I didn't watch the 2009 Derby and Oaks until much later, on YouTube, after I'd heard how both races had played out. My taste for it ended when I watched Barbaro break down in the Preakness. I'd had inner conflicts with racing anyway, always fearing a breakdown when I watched a race. Then Eight Belles. Thank God I didn't watch that race on TV!
Yep, "scrapper" best describes Mine That Bird! What a tough little horse!
Leslie, thanks for following Equestrian Ink and taking the time to write such an insightful comment!
I missed every one of the Triple Crown races, darn it. Had stuff going on each day. Thanks for the recap and the video clips.
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