Raced to Death – Eight Belles’ Avoidable Tragedy

Eight Belles, a beautiful filly, finished second in today’s Kentucky’s Derby and then broke both her front ankles causing her to be euthanized on the track.

Maybe you’re like me and just don’t get the appeal of horse racing. It makes no sense to me why anyone would want to push physically immature animals to physical extremes when injuries may well equal death for the horse. And those fatal injuries seem to be a tragic tradition. I don’t follow horse racing but like many people, I followed Barbaro’s fight for life after his 2006 racetrack injury which ultimately resulted in his death in early 2007.

This August 2007 article taught me a few things I didn’t know about horse racing. One being that there is no national governing body.

After Barbaro’s breakdown in the Preakness, Bowen and others in the industry realized that they were at a loss to answer a simple question —- How frequently are horses injured? —- which only exacerbated the public outcry over the incident. As a result, the summit participants proposed an injury reporting system that would standardize the process by eliminating inconsistencies from track to track.

Well, that’s one good thing I guess. At least we may get some more reliable numbers on a broader scale than what we’ve seen in the past. And maybe those numbers will help effect change in the racing world. Sadly, there is one more to add to the tally today.

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