Photo credit: Wireimage
Big Brown was pulling away from the field, accelerating with every powerful stride toward the finish line in the Kentucky Derby. The crowd of 157,770 was on its feet and cheering as the big, unbeaten, muscular bay crossed the line first, 4 3/4 lengths ahead of the filly Eight Belles. Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. was still celebrating, along with thousands of happy bettors, as Big Brown and the 19 other horses in Saturday's race galloped out around the first turn at Churchill Downs. It took a few minutes to sink in, but anyone watching those horses soon realized that one of them had fallen to the track. "It's the filly," someone whispered. She went down about a quarter mile past the finish line. In just a few minutes, the joy of the Derby and the promise of a new Triple Crown season were upended when Eight Belles was euthanized by injection on the track. She had broken both front ankles and could not be saved. "This horse showed you his heart," winning jockey Kent Desormeaux said, "and Eight Belles showed you her life for our enjoyment today. I'm deeply sympathetic to that team for their loss." Big Brown did everything his owner said he would do. An explosive finishing kick put away his rivals for his fourth consecutive victory. Eight Belles, meantime, was attempting to become the fourth filly to win the Derby. Her owners chose to keep her out of Friday's Kentucky Oaks so she could run with the boys in the Derby. And run she did. Big Brown's start from the outside post did little to hamper his charge when the field turned for home. Under the urging of Desormeaux, the 2-1 favorite cruised to an easy victory to become the seventh undefeated Derby winner. The last one was Barbaro in 2006. That wasn't the only reason thoughts of Barbaro were hard to ignore on this Derby Day. The breakdown brought back memories of the 2006 Preakness, where Barbaro shattered his right rear leg just after the start. The colt was euthanized months later, after developing laminitis from the catastrophic injuries. In two weeks, Big Brown will race in the Preakness as the only 3-year-old with a chance to become the first Triple Crown champion since Affirmed in 1978. "We're ready to roll," Dutrow said.
You know, I'm not a big horse racing fan (well, not at all) but I am fascinated by the Kentucky Derby ... all those big hats and stuff. It's such a long-standing, time-honored American tradition. I am a bit appalled that horses have to be put out of their misery just because they break their ankles. I think someone should create a rehabilitation/retirement home for horses who suffer breaks like this. Can't they make big wheelchairs for the poor dears and save them from early death? Meh, it's just a thought. Anyways ... congrats to Big Brown anyways!!! [Source]