The media has been asking if horse racing is still as dangerous now as it was last year.  Duh.  Let’s see, there have been some changes, surface things.  Different whip in use, and while there have always been overuse of the whip penalties, the whip does not usually make the animal break down.  They have gotten rid of toe grabs in some states, which were welded to the aluminum racing plates (shoes) the horses wear.  Breeding however is unchanged.  Every single entrant  to the Kentucky Derby has a dose or three of genetic flawed material. 

Is horse racing safer today ?  No.

BUT what the spotlight on racing HAS accomplished is this.  In the last few weeks, there have been top horses, on track for the derby that have been scratched – some with obvious physical concerns, and today, for the first time ever that anyone can research, the morning line favorite for the Kentucky Derby was scratched from the race.  The horse I Want Revenge has a soft tissue injury.  The ultrasound scan and xray don’t show anything BUT THERE IS A FILLING IN HIS ANKLE – and until this year, being involved at the level I was, most trainers would have run the horse.  Not smart trainers, but overall he would have gone to the track this afternoon and run.  We see horses who should not run everyday.  Big Brown last year with his horrible feet.  Horses should not run on acrylic feet.  His feet were so bad there was a blog that featured his feet.  Scary.  Once again people, the horse has bad feet.  Yes, he won the Kentucky Derby.  He has bad feet.  Now he is at stud, siring multitudes of foals who stand a 50/50 chance of having………..bad feet !  And that is just the FEET.  Racing is on such tenuous ground right now, they all know they can’t risk another public breakdown like Eight Belles, the second place finisher in the Derby last year.  She broke both front ankles in the gallop out after finishing and fell, and was euthanized on the track.  She was by a known unsound sire, who the farm proudly is advertising for a “reduced fee of $112,500”.  DUH !  The fact that there are at least six related to this filly running today ?  OMG how stupid are breeders ?  Welll……………….

For the first time since 1970 I won’t be watching the Derby.  I will see a rerun perhaps, but for me it is a sad ending to 39 years of anticipation and pride. 

On his way to victory, Ferdinand in the 1987 Kentucky Derby.

In my pasture stands a grandson of Seattle Slew, the Triple Crown winner in 1977.  His other grandsire is Ferdinand, the winner of the Kentucky Derby in a breathtaking ride by Bill Shoemaker.  My Slew has Ferdinand’s head, and magnificent way of going.  He had a chip in his knee and his racing owners kindly dumped him off with the meat buyer at the racetrack.  My friend bought him and sent him to me.  That was particularly hard for me to find, as Ferdinand died after an unremarkable stud career in a slaughterhouse in Japan.  The last owners didn’t even call the folks here in the states who bred Ferdinand to see if they wanted him back.  To save his grandson is a great joy to me.  I am thrilled all over each time I see him out there.  Seattle Slew I saw in Kentucky in the mid 1980’s, which was the last time I saw my boy Affirmed.  Affirmed won the last Triple Crown title in 1978.  That is winning the Kentucky Derby at 1 1/4 miles the first Saturday in May.  Then the Preakness Stakes at 1 1/16 miles at Pimlico in Maryland.  Then on to the Belmont Stakes, 1 1/2 miles at Belmont Park in Elmont New York.  Our horses of today can’t hold a candle to the horses of the 1970’s.  Structural time bombs, they sadly have the same elegant intelligent speed and want to run – but their bodies cannot keep up.  Thoroughbred breeders have bred themselves into a box with no bottom. 

What is fashionable in racing is to breed for speed.  The Raise A Native bloodline  has it in spades.  In fact, Affirmed was related to the genetic screwup and while he was sound, retired sound from the track, when bred to others of the era who were unsound, never made it to the track mares – he never reproduced himself.  That is the case with a lot of top racehorses, stallions or mares alike.  But that is another rant in another blog.

For today, it is off to get chores done.  Kona was here for her breakfast and I hear the critters wondering where that girl who feeds them is.

Rain on and off here today, hope it is nice where you are !