Saturday, May 20, 2006

Heartbreak At Pimlico

Most of the time, when we see a competitor carted off the field of play, we pray that in the worst case, they'll be back later that year, and that their career is not in jeopardy. That's not the case tonight with Barbaro, the Kentucky Derby champion race horse, whose life is in danger after breaking his leg in two places early in the Preakness Stakes today.

It was a weird race as Barbaro broke early from the gate, and had to be corralled, and led back to the gate. He got off to a clean start the second time around, and appeared to be running fine until he took one bad step. As soon as Jockey Edgar Prado pulled him up, the race itself took a backseat to the fallen champion. Watching the race live on television, you could hear the life sucked out of the crowd as soon as it happened.

As a horse racing fan, and devoted watcher of the Triple Crown, this is the most horrifying moment I remember from any race, beating out the injury to Charismatic in the stretch run of the 1999 Belmont Stakes. Charismatic's career ended, but he underwent successful surgery that night and his life was saved. Obviously, I hope that the same will happen for Barbaro.

Now, with that being said, Bernardini ran a good race, but with the way he dominated the field on the back stretch, it's clear that this was a very weak year for Triple Crown horses. He's just about the only one who might have had a chance at keeping up with Barbaro. I'll still watch the Belmont, but I don't have high hopes.

For those who want to watch, here's the video of the race and the immediate post-race coverage, courtesy of YouTube:


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