The Heartbreak of Racing

June 23, 2011 § 4 Comments

This is the problem with the thoroughbred racing industry.

A very young horse, Eight Bells, broke both her front ankles racing her heart out.

At the Kentucky Derby.

She came in second.

Filly Eight Belles broke both front ankles after the wire in the Kentucky Derby. She was euthanized on the track while Big Brown's victory was celebrated.


Just after the race finished, she rounded the curve and was pulling up, and both front legs collapsed out from under her.

The video is heartbreaking to watch.  And it’s not even the worst video out there (she is in second place at about the 2 minute mark, then they show her collapsing at 2:16).

Go to YouTube, and search for horses dying at race tracks.  Or any such search.  And you can watch to your hearts content (or break) horse after horse break bones as they run, then collapse and have to be immediately euthanized.


I’ll tell you why.

The magnitude of what happened was slow to reach the fans at Churchill Downs. Not only was a horse down, but it was the filly. And horse racing — with the memory of Barbaro still fresh and the death of a horse coming only a day earlier on Kentucky Oaks Day — had to confront grief one more time.

Because horses are raced as early as two years old.  But their bones don’t stop growing, and fusing together until they are at least four years old.  Anyone with any knowledge whatsoever who raises horses for sport other than racing, knows not to even get on that horse until it’s three.  That’s when you first introduce the horse to the saddle and bridle, maybe back the horse, then send it out to pasture for another year to finish growing.  Even at the age of four, training is light and short.  Mainly because the horse is still “young” and has a short attention span.  Often because even at four years of age the horse is not completely done growing.

“There was no way to save her. She couldn’t stand,” trainer Larry Jones said. “She ran an incredible race. She ran the race of her life.”

Yeah.  Say all the sentimental shit you want buddy.  The “sport” of racing killed that horse.  The owners killed that horse.  You killed that horse.

These race horses are racing by the time they’re two.  That means they’ve been in training probably at least six months, if not closer to a year.  With a rider.  On their back.  On those poor, weak bones.  This is the ONLY reason so many horses break down on the track.

“Losing animals like this isn’t fun. It’s not supposed to happen,” he said. “We’re heartbroke. We’re going to miss her, no doubt.”

Yeah, not to sound harsh, because I’m sure there is some real emotion in there somewhere, but you’ll also miss the money you would have made off her too.  If you actually cared about each horse as an individual, and not only for what they can do make for you, I’d feel bad for you.  Like the owner who does everything to keep their horse safe, and it dies in a freak – stupid – paddock accident.

Bramlage said the fracture in Eight Belles’ left front ankle opened the skin, allowing contamination to set in. At least one of her sesamoid bones was broken, too.

Bramlage was hard-pressed to make sense of yet another breakdown that reminded fans of Barbaro’s horrific injury two years ago in the Preakness.

Yeah, I can make sense of it for you asshole.  As a vet, I think you’d know.

And I call him asshole, because he knows why horses are breaking down… but doesn’t say anything.  Why?  Well, probably because he gets paid a handsome salary and doesn’t want to lose that!


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§ 4 Responses to The Heartbreak of Racing

  • Loni says:

    I have a book that was printed in the early 60s titled “A Plea for Sanity in Horse Racing”. Even that long ago there were people aware that horses are raced far too early in life.
    But then, again, it’s all about the money, eh? They get the good ones off the track when they’re young and then the breeding lottery starts.
    And the ones that aren’t good? We all know too well what happens to them.


    • Not A Breed says:

      Absolutely Loni. We sure do know where those horses end up for the most part. The sickest part is seeing the racing plates still on the horses as they’re bought by the killer buyers at auction.


  • Lauren says:

    Please do not slander an industry of which you clearly have no knowledge. Your blog post is full of fallacies and misconceptions. It represents to the uninformed public a “version” of “truth”, your truth, and that simply is incorrect. Please feel free to contact me at (email redacted) and I would be happy to answer any questions you have.


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