On Monday, we celebrated Memorial Day. We celebrated our soldiers who fight to protect our rights and freedoms and have even made the ultimate sacrifice in order to do so.
Thinking about that made my mind wander. It made me wonder why thoroughbred racing doesn’t have a day to remember our fallen heroes? After all, if weren’t for them, the horses, there would be no racing.
It is for this reason that I’d like to dedicate this piece to those that were taken from us far too soon:
Barbaro: The son of Dynaformer was brilliant indeed. A force to be reckoned with no matter what the surface, he had such amazing talent that he was able to take the Kentucky Derby in tour de force fashion. However, it was not just his brilliance and heart on the track that drew us to him, but the courage he displayed off of it.
Nobody will forget his battle. Nobody will forget the pictures of his leg after the surgery to repair it. It looked more metal than flesh or bone. Nobody will forget his battle with laminitis and how, for a brief moment, it looked as though he would pull through.
Tragically, it was not meant to be. The disease would go on to spread into his two remaining healthy feet. At that point, the only humane thing to do was to let the colt go.
Eight Belles: What could have been with this fleet-footed, steel gray filly? During her sophomore year she was untouchable — so much so, that her connections decided to try her against males in the Kentucky Derby. She ran a gallant second to the undefeated sensation Big Brown, but, after crossing the wire, tragedy struck.
Was it a bad step? Was it genetics finally catching up to her? We will never know. All we will know is that, in a split second, we went from elation to depression. Never have I seen a horse sustain the types of injuries that she did.
Thankfully, she was released of all pain as quickly as possible. The only wish I had was that her trainer, the outstanding horseman, Larry Jones, wouldn’t have had had to endure what came after. Jones has about as genuine a love for horses as you will ever see; yet, instead of being able to grieve the loss of Eight Belles, he was forced to defend his character against extremists who believe that racing is somehow cruel.
Lost In The Fog: Who knows how long this horse housed cancer within his body. Yes, the diagnosis was made in August of 2006, but I believe it could have been growing even before that.
During 2005, Lost in the Fog was a force of nature in the sprint division. He captured eight stakes races in a row, one of them being the Kings Bishop. He suffered his first loss in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. He lost again in his 2006 debut and, while he won his next start, it wasn’t nearly as dominant of a performance as his winning efforts in 2005.
In the Smile Handicap he ran an inexplicably bad race, finishing ninth, beaten by eight lengths. It was only a month later that he was diagnosed, and only another month hence that he lost his life.
He was a bright flame that was subdued far too soon; however, we shall not forget him or the thrills he gave us on the track.
These are only a few of the ones who left their mark on us. They were bold, brilliant, beautiful and magnificent. Their brilliance and dominance was unrivaled when at their best, and it is a tragedy that they were taken so suddenly.
However, while they might be gone in flesh, they are alive in memory. The thrills they gave us on the track, the brilliance and courage they showed, will never be forgotten.
So, in honor of those that fine animals that lost their lives, take a moment to remember them. Take a moment to remember their sacrifice.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily state or reflect those of US Racing.