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Posts Tagged ‘Eight Belles’

Belmont Stakes: Big Brown Runs and Studs

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Big Brown

With the Belmont Stakes coming this Saturday — and a potential Triple Crown winner — the sports world again turns its gaze towards the horse racing industry and this year, all eyes are watching Big Brown. Can the horse with the UPS tie-in complete the Triple Crown, something that hasn’t been done in, well, a freaking long time? Will his cracked left hoof hold up to a 1.5 mile gallop while carrying jockey Kent Desormeaux?

If the reports are from today’s test run are to be believed, it certainly looks like Big Brown will be up to the challenge on Saturday but will he be able to hold off the seemingly made-for-the-Belmont thoroughbred in Casino Drive? Trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. doesn’t seemed concerned:

“There’s not any issues with our horse,” Dutrow said. “He’s right on target. He’s by far the best horse in the race.”

These comments come on the heels of a little horse-racing trash talk from from the Big Brown camp towards Casino Drive and the rest of the field.

Obviously, Dutrow isn’t worried about the safety or ability of his horse (and by safety, I’m referring to whether or not the cracked hoof would give Big Brown problems).

In other Big Brown news, after he retires, the horse has certainly has his future planned out — one of impregnating willing mares. According to reports, Big Brown will receive $100,000 each time he gets a female horse pregnant… and I thought Las Vegas hookers were expensive. Of course, you don’t get to impregnate one either (eww), but I digress.

Finally, it has been revealed the final resting place of Eight Belles will indeed be at Churchill Downs.

An Interview With Doctor Lawrence Bramlage

Dr. Larry BramlageBecause we are in the grips of horse racing’s run for the Triple Crown, the subject of horses and their safety has been brought back to the forefront — especially when you consider the tragedy of Eight Belles. With this in mind, I pursued an opportunity to interview Dr Lawrence Bramlage, the attending on-call* veterinarian of the Kentucky Derby.

Dr. Bramlage also oversaw the euthanasia of Eight Belles after determining the severity of her injuries; something he’s never before witnessed during his career as a medical expert for the thoroughbred industry.

In our interview, we asked Dr. Bramlage some questions about the Eight Belles injury, potential prevention methods, Big Brown and Derby Pie. Needless to say, Dr. Bramlage went to great lengths to educate some of us who may have been in an uproar about animal cruelty and horse racing. Our interview was conducted via email and because I’m no expert when it comes to matters of the horse-racing industry, some of my questions may seem elementary.

Thankfully, Dr. Bramlage’s answers were not:

Intentional Foul: Dr. Bramlage, thank you for taking the time speak with Intentional Foul. In your report, it was revealed Eight Belles had fractures of the cannon and sesamoid bones in both front legs. What, in your professional opinion, contributed to the severity of these injuries? Was Eight Belles fighting the “slow down” commands she was being given or did she perhaps step incorrectly while she was slowing?

Dr. Bramlage: She was slowing down perfectly just like you want a horse to do. She was decreasing her momentum without abruptly stopping. She was relaxed and the jockey had her perfectly balanced. There is no good explanation for how she got the fractures. In her last three strides she showed lameness in the right front on two, then dramatically shifted her weight to the left. That is when the left fractured and she went down. Obviously she overloaded the right as well.

There is no indication of anything wrong until those three strides. Horses occasionally sustain injuries during a race that shows up as they slow down, but no one associated with racing that I have talked to has ever seen anything like this event.

Continue reading our interview with Dr. Bramlage

What Can Big Brown Do For You?

Big Brown

The Preakness is tomorrow and while you are enjoying all the debauchery, be sure to remember there’s a semi-important horse race going on tomorrow. You know, if going to a horse track to watch horses race is your type of thing — a legitimate question for all the in-field attendees.

If you are actually interested in the race, the other questions surrounding The Preakness are can the horse who launched a million UPS trucks (not really, but he did get his name from the shipping giant) win the second leg of the Triple Crown? If he does, will anyone in attendance be sober enough to appreciate it? Another question, deftly tackled by Pat Forde, is whether or not two-weeks is a sufficient enough lay-off for modern horses to compete the Triple?

I’m not sure Seattle Slew or Affirmed had these issues to worry about, but nevertheless, the concerns are out there. Others tend to stem from the Eight Belles tragedy and while they are legitimate, I’m not sure if they won’t just fall on deaf ears. The horse racing industry is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry (especially if you include the gambling aspect) and while the immediate destruction of one of these beautiful creatures leaves a lasting impact on the general sporting public and generates tons of shock waves, it won’t derail horse racing from moving forward.

We are in the middle of the Triple Crown season and it’s the industry’s time to shine and if the Barbaro saga didn’t dampen their spirit, nothing — not even the destruction of Eight Belles — will.

Anyway, enough op-edding for now; let’s look at the race. Can Big Brown complete and win leg number two of the Triple Crown? Considering the fact he’s a 1-2 favorite (for every $2 spent, you get $1 in return), it’s pretty obvious where Vegas’ feelings lie. When you look at the rest of the field’s odds, you can get the distinct impression Big Brown is the only horse worth paying attention to.

The second lowest odds are for Gayego, who comes in at 8-1. After that, the rest of the entires have double-digit odds. To me, this seems to indicate either Big Brown will destroy the field (in a winning way) or some enterprising gambler is going to make a lot of money off the likes of Macho Again (20-1) and Riley Tucker (30-1). With that in mind, I’m going to go out on a limb here and pick Big Brown to win, place, and show.

In other news, ESPN’s Randy Moss looks really intense. God, I love bad choices in online video freeze-frames.

Randy Moss

Don’t take any crap from that ESPN 2 crew, Randy.

The Derby Shows Beauty, Horror of Horse Racing

While the Big Brown celebration is legitimately deserved — his performance was incredibly dominating; so much so it seems his opponents have thrown in the towel for the Preakness — the sadness concerning Eight Belles is legitimately deserved as well. The only filly to appear in the 134th running gave an incredible performance as well.

Unfortunately, her run ended in despair after she broke both front ankles after crossing the finish line. Because the damage to her legs was so extensive, Eight Belles was euthanized on the track. In light of the horrific ending to Eight Belles’ promising racing career, PETA has, of course, shared their opinion with the rest of the free world.

And while it may be a bit misguided, the fact of the matter is, seeing Eight Belles succumb like she did is enough to make any animal lover question the need for horse racing. While Mike Vick gets vilified for his role in a dog fighting ring (deservedly so), the horse racing industry continues on its path unimpeded.

What makes this even harder to take is it’s doubtful Eight Belles will be remembered with the same passion devoted to Barbaro, especially after the initial buzz tapers off. Personally, I’d prefer to remember her like this instead of debating whether or not NBC should have shown more footage of her horrific ending.

Eight Belles

But maybe that’s just me.