Sunday, May 04, 2008

A Winning Filly Goes Down

While I realize we are a country at war and mankind faces bigger problems right now, I am completely depressed today by the sudden demise of Eight Belles, the filly who ran her heart out in Saturday's Kentucky Derby, broke both ankles and had to be euthanized right on the track. I'm trying to figure out if it is my love of horses or my strong feelings of sisterhood that this tragedy has aroused; possibly, it is a little of both.

Eight Belles was no ordinary gal. She was first filly since 1999 to run in the Derby and much was made of her ability to "hang with the boys." She was poised to be the wagering favorite in Friday's Kentucky Oaks, an all-filly showcase. But her owner and trainer decided to run her against the boys despite the fact that she had never done so before. She had, after all,solid credentials with a four-race winning streak.

"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."

Jones' voice broke and tears glistened in his eyes as he considered his barn without Eight Belles' head poking out of her stall.

"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."

Hillary Clinton, who made a comparison between herself and Eight Belles, asked her constituents to root for the filly on Saturday. Though Clinton didn't attend the race, she'd asked Chelsea to bet on Eight Belles, who still came in second at 13-1, thus repaying her fans' faith by returning $10.60 and $6.40.

No doubt, numerous allusions, jokes and comparisons to the filly will be made when folks, once again, ask Hillary to pull out of the race. I can hear the lines being typed out even as I write this - something about her still being proud about coming in second or some such nonsense.

Anyway, I'm heading up to the barn today, to have my father and stepmother meet all my horse friends. I now realize there is only female in the bunch, and she is pregnant and picked on by her paddock mates, both boys, Ben and Robbie.

Maybe I'll bring her something extra.

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