Filed in Uncategorized by on June 10, 2008 0 Comments

Big Brown never had a chance in the Belmont — and another Triple Crown contender bites the dust.

Kent Desormeaux, his jockey, gave him the worst ride in a big race since 1957, when Bill Shoemaker misjudged the wire in the Kentucky Derby and blew a sure win on Gallant Man. (In the 1986 Run for The Roses, Shoemaker made amends when, at age 54, he triumphed aboard Ferdinand.)

Happens to the best, and this includes Hall of Famer Desormeaux who was clueless this time around. Desormeaux (case of nerves in riding for destiny?) didn’t know which way to turn after leaving the gate, so he tried inside, outside, sideways, backwards, every direction but straight ahead – so if he was confused, imagine the horse.

But as race-trackers will be talking about the jockey, animal rights activists, like PETA, will be talking about the horse. They’ve already damned thoroughbred racing as greedy and inhumane and some, after the fall of Barbaro and later Eight Belles, even want the sport dissolved upon the proposition that it’s “abusive” and “dangerous” to the animals.

Yes, it’s dangerous, and so is football, boxing, hockey, baseball, skiing, walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming, bathing, driving and flying.

Eating can be abusive and dangerous and sex, for sure, can be hazardous to your health.

From the man who went up in a balloon but never came down (the story made headlines for a while) we learn that balloons and ballooning can prove fatal.

Therefore, if we ban racing, we must ban these other human activities as well, and if we stop the breeding of horses, we must likewise stop the breeding of humans.

Given the odds, it’s safer being a horse. We should be the first to go.

In the 134-year history of the Kentucky Derby, there’s been only one fatality, and that was Eight Belles.

The same can’t be said for mountain climbing, about which PETA is silent. We’re animals, too!

Should PETA and other animal rights activists succeed in banning thoroughbred racing, well, there goes a billion dollar industry, along with all those jobs. Thousands of ranches and breeding facilities will have to be shut down and joining the ranks of the unemployed will be farmhands, jockeys, trainers, grooms, hotwalkers, agents, blacksmiths, veterinarians and the thousands who make a livelihood operating the nation’s racetracks.

Racehorses are bred for one reason, to race. Later, some become show horses. But it’s all about the thrill of speed and, from a breeder’s point of view, to find the horse that will run true to his or her pedigree. Genetic consistency (like father like son) is a virtue to be found in most thoroughbreds but lacking in most humans.

Thoroughbreds chase the wind. They are admired for their will to prevail and we love them, and learn from them, on the shoulders of their tenacity and valor.

They (generally) lose more often than they win but they never quit on us. They’re always ready for the next race.

Life is all about losing by a nose but never giving up.

The Jockey Club registers some 35,000 foals each year.

Do the math. No horse racing, no breeding. These 35,000 foals, then, would not exist. We’d be minus the only animals we breed to near-perfection. They’d be unborn.

That would be more than harmful. That would be brutal.

  The Bathsheba Deadline: An Original Novel Jack Engelhard’s latest novel, THE BATHSHEBA DEADLINE, now available in paperback, places journalism at the center of our war on terror. Engelhard wrote the international bestselling novel INDECENT PROPOAL that was translated into more than 22 languages and turned into a Paramount motion picture starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore. He can be reached at

[Engelhard wrote the racetrack classic THE HORSEMEN, cited by NY Post columnist Ray Kerrison “the best, sharpest, most vivid portrait of life around the racetrack ever written” in a review for the National Star. THE HORSEMEN, unfortunately, is out of print from Regnery Publishing. Also, Engelhard’s column against cruelty to horses, titled “Castoff Horses – A Study in Cruelty” in the Philadelphia Inquirer – has been installed in the Congressional Record.]


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