Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Farewell to Barbaro

Like many people addicted to horses, I've been following Barbaro's valient fight to live, which ended yesterday. I am heart broken over his death.

I'm not particularly fond of Thoroughbreds or their breeding. They should allow some more Arabian blood into the breed to add some substance and to make up for the fact that every single one of them can be traced back to just three stallions--all of them Arabians, mind you. Not a great deal of diversity in that 300 year old gene pool. They are terribly in-bred, which leads to all kinds of problems. Not, mind you, that that had much to do with the terrible miss-step at high speed that Barbaro took in May.

He was magnificient in the Kentucky Derby and I was convinced he'd take all three races. He clearly tried to save himself (and bless the jockey who immediately realized something was wrong) by getting off that leg.

Knowing that racehorses are often euthanized for less damage than the shattered leg, I was amazed that the owners took the steps they did to save his life. I really admire them for doing it.

I checked in on the website that had been set up at the hospital in Pennsylvania to see how he was doing on a regular basis. There were ups and downs, but yesterday morning I heard a report on NPR which did not bode well: the surgeons had to do more work over the weekend.

In retrospect, the report was on the air about the same time that Barbaro was put to sleep, but I didn't learn that until about 10 hours later as I drove home from Hollywood. I felt like I'd been suckerpunched and started crying. I cried pretty much the whole way to the barn to see my own horse and I start crying whenever I see another article or talk to someone about what happened.

Barbaro was never going to have a come-back race like Depression era hero Seabiscuit, but I think everyone wanted him to have a good life at stud, which would have been the happy ending. Unfortunately, he joins the ranks of racings' great tragedies, like the filly Ruffian or the Australian Phar Lap.

No comments: