Mixed emotions.

450_ap_big_brown_080503.jpgThe first thing I did when I awoke this morning (excited to head for the remiera, as we were in caorlina to accompany the Doge in his Buccintoro for the Festa della Sensa) was to check the results of the 134th Run for the Roses.

People ask, what do you miss about the States? It’s not dryers, it’s not garbage disposals; it’s certainly not having a car. It’s things like the inevitable tearing up along with 150,000+ Churchill Downs attendees as the band tunes My Old Kentucky Home prior to unleashing twenty powerful three-years-olds to pound their hearts out in a race some call the most exciting two minutes in sports.

This morning, I was expecting to quickly Google who won, then watch the re-run on youtube before heading out for the day. Instead, the headlines in the browser window search results broke my heart. Immediately recalling the valiant recovery attempts of the amazing Barbaro, yet another tragedy. The filly Eight Belles broke both her front ankles after running a hell of a race, surging ahead of eighteen other colts down the back stretch, all except the winner. She was euthanized immediately, even as Big Brown enthusiasts were dizzily celebrating their horse’s thrilling victory.

So, before we all speed off to speculate what Big Brown will do in the next two jewels of the Triple Crown, before we dive into discussions of why owners don’t choose to breed for resilience along with speed, as we remind ourselves of the heavy medication standard in horseracing, before I recount the events of the Sensa day, I wanted to pause a moment to honor the efforts of this young lass that held her own among the lads, with hope that we don’t hear of another of these accounts for some time to come. Or ever.

To Eight Belles. She was a contender.

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