Monday, January 29, 2007

Rest in Peace, Barbaro

I can't believe I'd just mentioned the other day how Edgar Prado's clear thinking when he pulled Barbaro up in the Preakness probably saved the horse's life. Now I have to modify that to "prolonged the horse's life." Barbaro, 2006 Kentucky Derby winner and a great racehorse, was euthanized this morning.

Before today, there were times I was sure he'd be put down, so it's remarkable--and testimony to his stubborn strength--that Barbaro made it for 8 whole months after his injury. A broken cannon bone, broken sesamoid bone, broken long pastern bone, dislocated fetlock joint, and a shattered pastern bone: even with all the screws they put in him, we all knew he'd never race again. But I admit I was hoping he'd mend enough that one day he might be able to cover mares and there'd be lots of little baby Barbaros running around.

But complications (laminitis, an abscess) simply got the better of the big guy.

Chelle and I were in Yosemite National Park the weekend of the Preakness, and we'd hiked up to the top of Vernal Fall along the Mist Trail and then came back down via the John Muir Trail, keeping a close eye on my watch. We had to be in Curry Village by 3:00 in time for the Preakness. (Her money was on Brother Derek; mine was on Sweetnorthern Saint.) We wound up sitting next to a guy who'd put $200 on Barbaro. So when he broke out of the gate early, I turned to him and said, "Wow, your horse wants to run!" He beamed. Barbaro was dutifully loaded back in the gate. When the race started, the beam on that man's face quickly paled and a collective moan of distress travelled across the room. I felt ... sick. Just sick, watching Barbaro's hoof dangling like that, and watching Edgar Prado choking back tears.

Now he's gone.

But what is that saying? Whenever a door slams shut, God opens a window somewhere. Barbaro's mother is pregnant right now with a full brother to Barbaro, and the foal is due in early spring. And Gretchen Jackson, one of Barbaro's owners, pointed out that "at least he's finally out of that stall now." And she imagined that Barbaro is galloping in heaven, chasing Secretariat.


The Biggest Fan of HapplessTigger said...

Nicely done Tiger... the sad thing is that many will mourn his passing and not ever be aware or care that many horses break down every month at tracks across the country - we've seen too many ourselves... let's also not forget American Ivy who broke down at Golden Gate Fields yesterday... and all the others that have died and will die while entertaining us... RIP to all of them.

Joyce said...

They are bred to run and they love to run, and it just kills me every time one of them falls. It's the only aspect of horse racing that I hate. Been watching TVG all day ... the outpouring of grief has been amazing. People think racehorses are mistreated and not well-loved, and it's just not true. They are marvelous, beautiful creatures, every one of them.