“Eight Belles showed you her life for our enjoyment today.” — jockey Kent Desormeaux, who won on Big Brown.
The camera cut away from her, but it should have stayed on her. Eight Belles had run herself half to death yesterday, and now the vets were finishing the job as she lay on her side, her beautiful figure a black hump on the track. Horses don’t just fall down like that, you thought as NBC flitted away, cowardlike, from the sickening picture to the more appealing image of the Kentucky Derby victor, Big Brown.
Eight Belles collapsed after crossing the finish line, her front ankles broken so severely she could not be taken from the track. “She didn’t have a front leg to stand on to be splinted and hauled off in the ambulance, so she was euthanized,” said Larry Bramlage, the Derby’s veterinarian.
There is no turning away from this fact: Eight Belles killed herself finishing second. She ran with the heart of a locomotive, on champagne-glass ankles for the pleasure of the crowd, the sheiks, oilmen, entrepreneurs, old money from the thousand-acre farms, the handicappers, men in bad sport coats with crumpled sheets full of betting hieroglyphics, the julep-swillers and the ladies in hats the size of boats, and the rest of the people who make up thoroughbred racing.
More about the murder of Eight Belles at Pet Connection