I recently attended the 134th Kentucky Derby as part of a small film crew hired to film the big race. I’ve worked as a production assistant almost every Derby for twelve years now. I look very much forward to the event and love being a part of it. I’ve had the privilage of literally sitting on the track under the rail while Smarty Jones thundered by me, the sound of the horses hooves near deafening, but thrilling as can be to witness so closely. I enjoy all the hoopla and celebration surrounding the Derby and take great pride in our city and state during this time. This most recent Derby wasn’t all that different than others in the past. We had glorious weather, the second largest attendance in its history although it has always seemed just as crowded to me as ever. We had a great line-up of horses as usual and it was hard to decide which one to bet on, as usual. But this year I bet on the filly Eight Belles in hopes to see history made since only a handful of fillies have ever won the race. I bet her across the board and was thrilled to see her finish in second place. Soon after crossing the finish line however, she broke down on the track and was quickly euthanized due to life-threatening injuries and I’m sure, tremendous pain. A dark cloud soon descended over the track and there was this wierd mix of grief, anguish, sadness and the celebration of victory, all at the same time. There was a palpable feeling in the crowd as you could see the confusion and mix of emotions on many people’s faces. It was a tragic ending to an otherwise glorious event and left a feeling of deep sadness and regret for me personally. Here I am with a winning ticket to be cashed in on the horse who just gave her life for our entertainment and I feel torn as to what to do about it. So here is what I decided to do in Eight Belles’s honor. I cashed the ticket and donated my earnings plus a little extra to a Thoroughbred rescue organization. There are many non-profit organizations like the one I gave to that rehab race horses, retrain them for pleasure riding, prevent them from being slaughtered and find them loving homes. Perhaps you, like me, were at a loss of what to do. I’m not saying this is what you “should” do. I’m only saying it’s what I needed and chose to do and wanted to provide a link to The Thoroughbred Adoption Network which has many sites listed to choose from and read about if you so desire. Thanks.
May 06, 2008