Saturday, May 21, 2016

Exaggerator Wins Preakness

There will be no American Triple Crown champion this year.  Nyquist, who was undefeated going into the second leg of the Triple Crown this afternoon, lost to Exaggerator, who had finished in second place, behind Nyquist in their four previous meetings.  Nyquist was the betting favorite, and most people had hopes of another Triple Crown winner, but it was not to be.  Nyquist popped out of the starting gate and was immediately engaged in a speed duel with two other horses for the first half mile.  As it was a wet track, most riders avoided the rail - except Kent Desormeoux, on Exaggerator.  Kent began his racing career at Pimlico and Laurel, and knows the track well. Other jockeys went wide around the track, but Exaggerator stayed on the rail and made up ground until the stretch.  Nyquist was tiring after a torrid pace, but finished in third place, just a nose behind Cherry Wine. Exaggerator, however, came out wide at the top of the stretch, swept by the front-runners and then angled back inside.  Stradivari, who was making his Stakes race debut finished in fourth place, with temperamental Lani in fifth.  The rest of the order of finish was: Laoban, Uncle Lino, Fellowship, Awesome Speed, Collected, and Abiding Star.  Uncle Lino was vanned off the track, after duelling early with Nyquist.  He had some inflammation in his left foreleg, but was not lame after returning to the barn area.
   Unfortunately, there were two deaths of horses in the Preakness undercard.  The first race was won by a 9-year-old gelding named Homeboykris.  He had been claimed last December, and was going to be retired and turned into a riding horse when he lost his interest in racing.  Homeboykris won his race, had his photo taken in the winner's circle, and began walking back to his barn.  He collapsed on the way, apparently from a heart attack.  Everyone was stunned.   At the end of the fourth race, on the turf, Pramedya took a misstep and fell.  Her fall was due to a bad break, and she was euthanized on the course.  Her jockey was taken by ambulance to a local Baltimore hospital, where he was treated for a broken clavicle.
  Breakdowns and injuries are the worst down-side of horse racing, for the creatures involved in running.  It comes with the territory - and it is upsetting and horrendous. I still remember Ruffian, and Barbaro - and I cried reading about Black Gold and other thoroughbreds who had the will to win, but whose bodies couldn't stand the stress.  I love watching horses run - whether in a race, or just out in pasture having a good time.  Having been involved with horses throughout my life, I realize that racing is a business, and money is, usually, the bottom line.  But I also know of pleasure horses that suffer missteps and are terribly injured.  I've lost horses to colic, to laminitis, to lightning, to old age, to liver and kidney failure.  I've seen them cast in stalls, impaled on fence posts, and completely wrapped in barbed wire...  Accidents happen everywhere - on the race track, and off.  On the farm, on rides, at horse shows, and on the road.  Even though our equine friends are generally much larger than we humans, they are still incredibly delicate creatures.  A single blow in a certain spot can kill a horse.  Running free, in pasture, having fun, a horse can turn an ankle, break a bone, fall and suffer a back injury - anything.
   I am never happy about the death of any animal - humans or others.  But death happens all around us, every day, in almost every way, shape and form imaginable...  I mourn for the two horses who lost their lives today.  But I cannot damn the racing industry - I have seen too much in 60 years of life on this planet.

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