The Swaps memorial at Hollywood Park…..site of many of his racing successes.

Racing in Callifornia is going down the tubes.  Sadly, once the casinos got the slots going,  and off track wagering got busy,  daily attendance dropped.  And dropped.  And dropped.  If it drops any lower, the only people there will be the folks who run horses and the concessions workers.  Well, almost.  It is sad to see.  Don’t get me going on the quality of today’s Thoroughbreds,  that is sad too.  In a brief nutshell,  back in the early 1970’s,  if a horse broke down,  he was done for.  If he broke a leg, it may have been casted, to try and save him or her.  Now, they try to rebuild the horses who break down, and BREED MORE OF THEM !  Now, just what is the thought process here ??  If a horse broke down,  it meant they were Not Sound.  They were given away if they didn’t die from the injury.  They did NOT find their way into the gene pool.  Not so any longer.  Broken horses are bred, and guess what ?  The babies they sire or foal BREAK DOWN !    There are accidents, and for that, yes, I would make an exception.  If it were a clear accident.  That is what happened to Barbaro – it began in my opinion when he broke through the starting gate for the Preakness Stakes.  Horses do that all the time,  and he should have been walked out for the vet.  He wasn’t though, he was reloaded and only managed 14  not quite correct strides before a catastrophic breakdown.  Years past, they would have brought the horse ambulance, dropped the screens and euthanized him on the track.  Not so for this courageous horse.  Here is a shot of his back leg, pre and post surgery.

The sad thing, (aside from the whole thing about this)  was that the horse had the attitude of an excellent patient.  What killed him was the horrid disease called Laminitis, which we know the cause of, but not how to stop it.  Lost lots of racings top horses when they were retired due to this…….Secretariat, Affirmed and of course poor Barbaro.  Dr.Richardson did an amazing job reconstructing that leg.  I suppose the horse might have been able to live longer but the films I saw of him walking when he was healing were very scary………poor boy !  To go from the suberb athlete he was to living from mid May to the following January like that.  He was an amazing horse, and he knew it.

They have a full sized statue in place at Churchill Downs, site of his Kentucky Derby triumph…….and his ashes will be interred there as well.  They are doing an official “unveiling” of the statue soon, and a lot of the “Friends of Barbaro” folks are going and meeting.  This horse affected people in ways not seen before.  Everyone had heard of him it seemed,  and I doubt that many were left unaffected by the horse and his struggle to live.  Because of him,  there have been millions of dollars raised and thousands of horses that were previously slaughter bound saved and rehomed.  Strides are being made to retrain or retire Thoroughbreds after their racing career is done.  It is a long process, in a lot of ways.  Now, Hollywood Park, the racing plant in Inglewood, California is in what is likely its final year.  There are plans in the works to raze the track and build homes and shopping.  To build a “shopping mecca” for the Southern California people.  I grew up outside of Los Angeles.  Folks, this is INGLEWOOD.  NO ONE GOES THERE EXCEPT FOR THE TRACK  !  It is in the heart of gangland, and they are delusional !  There is a horse owner who is launching a bid to save the track.  I fully support her, and went to her site and followed the link to sign the petition to save Hollywood Park.  If you have time, and are so inclined, perhaps you will do so too.  Here is her site,  http://www.savehollywoodpark.com/  There is a link the second item down to sign the online petition.  Thank you if you can do it.  We have already lost Bay Meadows in the bay area, and it just stands to get worse if HP goes too.

Hollywood Park was where I worked when I was a kid.  I met and chatted with a lot of the “celebs” there that were horse owners.  I could remember any horses pedigree (photographic memory) four generations back.  Made me an oddity, aside from the fact I am a girl.  Back then, women were not allowed in the barn area after dark.  Even owners, trainers or vets were banned after dark.  It was an interesting time to grow up, and in a wonderful place (well, once you got from the 405 freeway through Inglewood into the track that is). 

Enough , have to get to chores, enjoy the day !

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