For those of us standing trackside, near the entrance to the paddock, there was no way to see what happened near the backstrech. The fabulous filly, Eight Belles down on the ground with two broken ankles. Word quickly spread, and we abandoned our mission of talking with some of the Derby jockeys and trainers, and headed for the backside.
When I got to barn #37, you could feel the somber mood in the air. Those involved with Eight Belles looked stunned. Trainer Larry Jones is normally one of the most jovial characters at the track. But his grief was evident. There were some contentious moments, as some involved with the horse wanted the media and the cameras to go away. But this was a major news story, in the biggest horse race there is. Eventually, Jones did speak with us. He said these horses are like family. It was difficult for him to contain his grief.
Now come the questions. Did Eight Belles, racing against the boys, push herself too hard? Does Churchill Downs need to go to a synthetic racing surface? Would that have made a difference?
It's the second time in three years a horse breaks down in Triple Crown race. Does the average fan really want to watch horse racing, when these kinds of things happen?
I also wonder how many people cashed tickets on Eight Belles? Perhaps, anyone who won money on the horse, should make a donation to benefit retired horses.
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