The Gods have spoken: Ban Horse Racing.
After the horrific injury to Barbaro two years ago, I vowed never to watch another horse race. I had already been disappointed by the incredible close calls of horses over the past ten years, as one after another they came up just short of a triple crown win. The last triple crown winner being in 1977, when Affirmed beat Alydar. After those wrenching losses, I couldn't bear to watch another loss. As many people, our hopes and dreams get tied up in certain things, our ballclub, our friends and families, people, places and things. I knew that it was a giant projection, but still, it was the hope of everyone that finally a horse could do this feat. We all fell in love with Smarty Jones and were crushed at the last second loss in the Belmont.
But after a brief period off, I came back and started to watch again. I watched a tremendous horse named Barbaro and fell in love with his power and grace. I was absolutely shocked and horrified when he came up lame and spent day after day checking the news for updates, the horse harness they developed gave me hope that Barbaro would be put out to stud and all would be well. Alas, as in all life, my hopes and happy dreams were crushed and dashed against the rocks when they had to put Barbaro to sleep. I vowed never to watch another horse race.
Yesterday I was reminded that today was the Kentucky Derby. I laughed and bitterly told him I would never watch another horse race. But at 3:00PM today, I broke down and decided to watch. What could possibly go wrong this year? They would have resolved any of the issues that took Barbaro. The odds, in my mind, were so against a tragedy that I weighed the facts and decided to watch. It couldn't happen again, could it?
No, it couldn't. It was far worse.
After a phenomenal race, the young Philly Eight Belles collapsed after crushing its front two legs and had to be euthanized immediately. As soon as they showed the horse on the ground, I knew it was either dead or massively injured. The incredible juxtaposition between the Kent Desmormoux win and the happy music trying to cover up the other nightmare, made me sick again. Fuck that, more than sick. I realized that something incredibly dark was at play with horse-racing. That besides whatever issues are at play that may contribute to the injuries, I again was reminded of the terrible anger the Gods must have at this sport. What I have witnessed since the mid-1990s to today has been nothing short of a punishment, a karma for something that has happened that makes no sense. I know that those who love the "sport" clearly are aware to the core of something black at the heart of horse-racing. They talk of boxing being given a black eye time and again, but there is no question that horse racing is the one sport that needs to be investigated and banned until the Gods are appeased.