Late this afternoon I’ll be watching the Preakness at Pimlico, the second leg of the Triple Crown. The odds-on favorite is Big Brown, winner of the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago.
But there is a shadow over today’s race. It’s the memory of what happened at the Derby when the filly, Eight Belles, finished right behind the winner but then broke her two front ankles and had to be put down. (I remember when I was a little kid in Ontario being at a sulky track with my Uncle Jack when a trotter broke his leg and was shot in the head on the track with a rifle.) Immediately the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals seized on the tragedy, calling for Eight Bells’ jockey to be suspended and the sport curtailed. “It’s a dirty business and no better than dogfighting,” PETA charged.
Which begs the question (asked by many after the Derby): “Is horse racing cruel?”
Many say it is. Horses are mainly bread for speed, not strength so they have barrel-chested lungs held up by spindly legs. Many argue that three-year-olds are too young for the rigours of racing. Racers are bred for speed, not strength and then, ironically, race only a few times and are put out to stud. Is there something cruel about this whole regimen?
I have only been to a major track a few times in my life, mainly Saratoga in New York state where I did not see Secretariat race but did see the magnificent horse paraded on the track on his farewell tour.
Do you have any interest in horse racing?
Have you been to any tracks?
Do you think horse racing is cruel?
Will you be watching the Preakness this afternoon. “Oh Maryland, my Maryland.”
You won, Jim/ Big Brown won the Preakness going away and stands a good chance of winning the Belmont in three weeks to become the first Triple Crown winner in 30 years.