Horse racing has been accorded the title of 'The Sport of Kings' and I always found it exciting until the drama in the great stakes races proved to include more fatalities than thrilling wins. I began to dread the Triple Crown Races and the Breeders' Cup Races whenever I watched them. I almost would hold my breath until every horse had made it past the finish line, praying none would buckle or fall.
I was at Belmont when 'Go for Wand' broke her ankle during the Breeders' Cup Distaff. In fact, from where I was seated, my view of the tragedy was unimpeded. I watched in horror as her life was taken then and there on the course. Perhaps the worst part of it was her incredible courage and determination in the face of her injury. With a broken ankle, she actually FINISHED the race before she was forced down again. There are those who argue that animals should not be raced at all for the amusement of human beings but in this world of ours, animals and humans still live and work in partnership. Animals thrive on human care and love as much as humans respond positively to the love and loyalty of animals. The sight of a thoroughbred running like the wind is one of the most thrilling experiences. If it had been an isolated incident, my pleasure in horseracing would have been restored in time. As it was, however, each year's high stakes races produced more fatalities.
Now, finally, new practices have made fatalities less of a risk as each horse who participates in a Breeders' Cup Race is examined thoroughtly by a veterinarian at least three times during the week prior to the Race. Many horses have been forced out of the running by these stringent new tests, but at least they continue to live!
Perhaps we will see our second year of Breeders' Cup races without a terrible fatality...
Meanwhile, I need to research an answer to an old question of mine: Why do the Horses in the States run 'widdershins', against Nature? One would expect them to run the course clockwise rather than anti-clockwise.