- 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]