For Whom The Belles Toll

by Ed Meyer

posted on September 9, 2008 in General Discussion, Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby | No Comments >>

In the cowboy movies, the bad guys always have the black hat. It is easy to see trainer Larry Jones. He always has a big white Stetson on top of his head. It is his trademark. You know, what the good guys wear….

On May 3, 2008, a beautiful filly faced off against the boys in the Kentucky Derby. Big Brown drew off to etch his name in the history books, and the runner-up was a hard knocking gal by the name of Eight Belles. She was the second place runner in a very tough field. Jockey Gabriel Saez rode her to the best of her efforts but is was not going to be her day. Things just got worse in that final eighth of a mile past the finish line. She went down, and the world drew a breath of sadness. Words will never be able to tell the story. It was a very sad day for racing, the Kentucky Derby, and her connections. A void that will never be filled again.

Changes are coming. She did not leave this game untouched. In racing, she made us happy to watch. In death, she will make a great sport safer. There are safeguards going in place about steroids. All medication is being examined as if it could have played a role. I think we will eventually see racing in the United States take a cue from England, Ireland, Japan, and many others. None to be used……

She excited 157,700 fans that first Saturday in May. She was laid to rest under a magnolia tree outside the Kentucky Derby Museum garden. For the 200 who attended, they were paying tribute to a hero. One that will make changes in our sport. As “Candle in the Wind” played at Churchill Downs in the Museum garden, many will be wanting to honor her legacy by ensuring safety in all areas of our sport.