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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Everything Falls Apart

- With one bad step, it all came crashing down. First and foremost is the concern for Barbaro, whose career-ending injury was described as “very life-threatening.”

"There are some major hurdles here," said Dr. Larry Bramlage, a renowned equine surgeon who was the on-call veterinarian for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. "This is a significant injury. His career is over. This is it for him as a racehorse. We're trying to save him as a stallion."[NY Times]
And with that most unfortunate step, you could feel the entire sport deflate, as reflected in the faces of the connections of the race winner Bernardini. All the anticipation of the last two weeks, the questions and debates that make the game so vibrant became all for naught. Instead of the most publicized portion of the racing year culminating in a historic sweep or, at worst, a compelling rematch between the Derby and Preakness winners, the Triple Crown Trail will sputter to its end in a Belmont Stakes with no compelling plot line, and the likelihood of the smallest crowd and ratings in some time.

It’s another body blow to the sport, but, as Frank Stronach told the national TV audience with somewhat of a shrug, “That’s horse racing.” It’s not just that horses break down, but that sometimes it happens when a whole lot of people are watching. And besides being heartbreaking, thanks especially to TV replays showing Michael Matz and his wife D.D. at the moment it happened, it’s just damn ugly, gruesomely and hauntingly so. Not long before, the record crowd (or at least the ones who were still conscious) and other fans around the country saw as exciting a finish you’ll ever see when Better Talk Now split horses to take a three-horse photo in the Dixie Stakes. Yet what many of us will remember instead is the horrific sight of Barbaro’s flailing rear leg and the tearful embrace between Edgar Prado and Peter Brette. Life, and horse racing, will go on, but it will take a little while to recover from this one. Certainly more than three weeks.

- Bernardini is the first Triple Crown race winner for his sire AP Indy.

- Sweetnorthernsaint was as dead on the board for this one as he was live in his last two. Perhaps his backers were tapped out. Though Michael Trombetta was pleased with his colt’s second place finish, he was very emotional about Barbaro.
"Give me a while before I say anything--I just can't talk right now...Our performance was great, and obviously he got a great trip. It looked like he stumbled a bit coming out (of the gate). He might have grabbed a quarter. I think it is incidental, but I don't think it's an excuse...This is terrible (what happened to Barbaro)." [Bloodhorse]


Anonymous said...

I've seen them all....Ruffian, Timely Writer, Go For Wand. It's gut wrenching. The Philly TV stations down at New Bolten interviewing 10 yo's crying, carrying signs Get Well Barbaro.

Frank Stronach is a horses ass BTW. I now know why Gulfstream turned out an indescribable mess.

Anonymous said...

Re: Frank Stronach

Google "Rich Guy, No Class". It takes you to the Magna web-page and the dumb Canuck's bio.

Mike E said...

ah, fuck. I just wanted to have some fun and win a little easy cash, by beating a 3 to 5 Favorite...just like every other time I bet on horseraces. I do feel Barbaro will make it. Which doesn't make the moood tonight any less spooky.
Do you think it possible that Barbaro knew he was hurt, and busted out of the gate to spare himself from running the race? It seems like odd behaivor, for a horse who seemed to genuinely love a good race...

Anonymous said...

So sad. Everyone around me was glassy eyed, including my jaded self.

Found his bucking on his way to the post a little strange. Do not remember him doing that in the Derby. Perhaps he sensed something bad was coming? I do not mean to imply he was already injured, of which the speculation has already started.

Anyway, finished reading my horse vet books, and I would have to say that unfortunately his odds of surviving are a lot less than the 3-5 he was to win yesterday. First, needs the tendon and blood vessels to have remained in tact. While the initial upper fracture is common and would present little problem on it's own (in fact it is similar to Alex's injury which led to retirement), the lower is very concerning. Will need to insert a rod to stabilize or even replace the bone if it is shattered badly enough. Then of course he has to be an excellent patient. Essentially needs a miracle, but at least the trainer has a history with those.

Like everyone, hoping for the best. Ignoring for a moment my concern for any horses life, the industry could really use a stallion that possessed both speed and stamina.

Filly Pundit said...

Stronach came off as a huge ass yesterday. You can't just shrug and say "that's horse racing". Sure, you have to be able to deal with breakdowns to be a fan, but it doesn't make it easy.

I wanted Bernardini to win and I'm thrilled that A.P. Indy got his classic winner, but my heart breaks for the Barbaro people, and perhaps even more for any little girls out there that fell in love with him after the Derby.

Anonymous said...

When I saw him break down coming out of the gate, I left the room. Didnt want to see it. I havent seen the race and wont ever watch it.I hate it when a 4000 claimer at Suffolk breaks down on camera. This was more then I could stand. Hope and joy swallowed up by despair in a second.

Green Mtn Punter said...

As a horse lover, could you posssibly have your heart broken any more than it was yesterday at Pimlico? That's the stuff of high tragedy- and in front of how many millions of people? It just proves once again, in the coldest and cruelest way possible, that there are no sure things in racing and in life. My heart goes out to Barbaro, Michael Matz, Peter Brette, Edgar Prado, and all of Barbaro's connections.

thecalicocat said...

I always think the best time of the year is from the beginning of the NCAA basketball tournament to the Belmont, which also coincides with spring. This year, I think the best time of the year is already over.
Barbarovwas the first horse to break down at the Pimlico meet.

Walter said...

...just woke up, and of course this is the first place i came for the story...i assume that Barbaro is still with us...that's certainly encouraging...i feel really bad for the horse, and of course the connections as well...suffice to say i'm rooting HARD for Barbaro (as we all are), in the only race that really matters...

Christina said...

Hey Alan...good call first of all on the great Better Talk Now/Dreadnaught/Artie Schiller finish. BTN made a great move, even if it was to get around his own fading rabbit. When I bet him he was 9/2, but he did go down. I'd still like to see the Mig get his mount on Artie back though.

At least something good happened yesterday. Every year we head to the Preakness Infield, wade through puke and piss and masses of human trash all in the name of the Triple Crown. My fiance asked me what I boxed in the feature. I was like...BOX? Why waste the money? I knew who won the Preakness LAST week. Went to the back of the clubhouse turn to snap pics of the field, I just thought I missed him. Then my family called and told me the tarp was out. I was born when Ruffian went down, and I was too young to remember Go for Wand...I've seen my share of breakdowns and I'm the type to get a lump in my throat when Flip De Lite went down in an AOC on a Saturday at the Big A. But this was just....awful. There's one word for it...heartbreak. That's it.